2023-24 Red Wings season preview: Is this the year they return to the postseason?
The Detroit Red Wings have finalized their exhibition schedule and are now gearing up for the 2023-24 regular season. This season carries heightened expectations due to the addition of several new players to the team. Collectively, they aim to achieve a feat the Red Wings haven't accomplished since 2016: securing a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Take a look below at our Red Wings season preview.
Tough competition in the Atlantic Division
The journey to secure a postseason berth will be a challenging one for Detroit, especially considering they belong to what is arguably the most competitive division in the National Hockey League, the Atlantic. The Tampa Bay Lightning, Boston Bruins, Florida Panthers, and Toronto Maple Leafs were all playoff contenders last season. Additionally, the Ottawa Senators and Buffalo Sabres are determined contenders in the hunt for a playoff position, alongside Detroit. The only team not expected to compete for a playoff spot this year is the Montreal Canadiens.
Detroit is certainly in for some tough competition within their division this year, as they are set to face their rivals frequently. There's some positive news, though. The Bruins are not projected to replicate last season's dominant performance with an impressive 65 victories. Additionally, the Lightning will be missing their All-Star goalie, Andrei Vasilevskiy, for the first few weeks of the season. This sets the stage for an anticipated three-way battle among Detroit, Buffalo, and Ottawa for one of the remaining playoff spots.
The Red Wings took a proactive approach to address their pressing need for a bona fide goal scorer. In a significant move, they acquired two-time 40-goal-scoring forward Alex DeBrincat in a trade with the Senators in July, promptly securing his services with a four-year contract extension. Additionally, the team added valuable goal-scoring depth by signing Daniel Sprong, who showcased his abilities with an impressive four-goal performance during the recently concluded exhibition schedule.
There's also optimism that third-year forward Lucas Raymond will rebound from his sophomore slump last season as he takes on a prominent role on the top line alongside captain Dylan Larkin and DeBrincat.
General Manager Steve Yzerman has emphasized the importance of improving the team's defensive performance. Although their goals-against numbers showed some improvement last season, it fell short of securing a postseason berth. To bolster their defensive capabilities, the Red Wings have welcomed the arrivals of defensemen Justin Holl and Shayne Gostisbehere. Additionally, they've added defensively-minded forwards in J.T. Compher and Christian Fischer to strengthen their overall defensive presence.
Anticipate starter Ville Husso to be more prepared for a substantial workload this season. His 56 games played last season marked a career-high, and he's expected to handle the pressure even better. Steve Yzerman has also bolstered their goaltending depth by adding veteran James Reimer and the highly regarded Alex Lyon, both of whom were part of last year's Florida squad. Notably, both Alex Nedeljkovic and Magnus Hellberg, who faced challenges behind Husso last season, have since moved on from the team.
Maintaining good health will be absolutely crucial for the Red Wings this season. Last year, they faced significant challenges due to injuries and absences. Gritty goal-scoring forward Tyler Bertuzzi, who has since moved to the rival Maple Leafs, suffered two broken hand injuries. Scorer Jakub Vrana was largely absent from the season, as he participated in the NHL Player Assistance Program for undisclosed personal reasons before eventually being traded. In addition, depth scorer Robby Fabbri missed both the beginning and end of the season.
These absences resulted in a substantial shortfall in expected goal production, which posed a significant obstacle to Detroit's pursuit of a playoff spot.
TL;DR (too long didn't read)
- As we kick off our Detroit Red Wings season preview, we're gearing up for the regular season to commence later this week, where Detroit will be facing some tough competition in the Atlantic Division.
- General Manager Steve Yzerman had a busy summer, making significant additions to enhance the team's depth in offense, defense, and goaltending.
- In our Red Wings season preview, we envision the team securing a postseason berth, clinching one of the final Wild Card spots.
Red Wings season preview: Final prediction
Despite receiving limited optimism from NHL Insiders who are not predicting Detroit to break their playoff drought this spring, we believe the Red Wings have a strong chance of securing a Wild Card postseason spot.
Last year, Detroit was in the playoff hunt despite missing two of their top players for a significant portion of the schedule. With the added scoring, defensive upgrades, and improved goaltending depth they have this year, the Red Wings should have the tools they need to finally break through and clinch a playoff spot thanks to the additions from Steve Yzerman.
Keep an eye on the Red Wings as they aim to secure one of the two NHL Wild Card spots.