This article explores the 5 greatest rookie seasons in Detroit Red Wings history. From standout performances by young players to impressive stats, these seasons marked the start of memorable careers and made a lasting impact on the team.
The Detroit Red Wings are known for having employed some of the greatest players in NHL history. Household names such as Gordie Howe, Steve Yzerman, Terry Sawchuck, and others are enshrined forever in Red Wings history with their numbers retired, and their multiple accolades are something to behold.
But before these players became household names, they were just another figure on the roster. Let's look back at the greatest rookie seasons in team history that we've enjoyed.
5 greatest rookie seasons
The Detroit Red Wings were living right in October of 2002 as defending Stanley Cup champions with the addition of highly touted Swedish rookie forward Henrik Zetterberg.
He finished his rookie year with 22 goals and 22 assists for 44 points in 79 games, leading all first-year players. He also finished runner up in the Calder Trophy voting for rookie of the year, losing to St. Louis Blues defenseman Barret Jackman. Of course, he'd go on to win the Conn Smythe Trophy as the 2008 Stanley Cup Playoffs most valuable player in addition to succeeding Nicklas Lidstrom as team captain in 2013.
Lidstrom won four Stanley Cup championships, seven James Norris Memorial Trophies (awarded to the NHL's top defenceman), one Conn Smythe Trophy as the playoff MVP, and was voted into 12 NHL All-Star Games. The Red Wings never missed the postseason during his career, the longest in league history for a player never missing the playoffs. His rookie season was the beginning of something special with 11 goals and 49 assists in 1991-92.
Over 22 season with the Red Wings, Steve Yzerman endeared himself to hockey fans as both one of the greatest players and leaders the sport had ever seen. He burst onto the scene in the 1983-84 NHL season after being selected 4th overall by the Red Wings, who had originally planned to send him back to the minors for one more season of conditioning prior to making his NHL debut, but instantly changed their minds when they recognized he was a special player. He would score 39 goals and 87 points in his rookie season and finished second in Calder Trophy voting.
The Red Wings seemingly adopted Fedorov when they helped him secretly defect from the Soviet Union in 1990. For the better part of a decade, Fedorov went on to become among the most dynamic, explosive, and exciting players not only to don the Winged Wheel but in the entire National Hockey League. And he made his presence felt instantly during his rookie season of 1990-91 with 31 goals and 48 assists.
One of the greatest goaltenders in NHL history, Sawchuk dominated his rookie season with the Red Wings of 1950-51 with a sparkling 44-14-12 record with a 1.97 goals against average. He would easily win the Calder Trophy as the NHL's top rookie, and would go on to win several more accolades throughout his career that would include several Stanley Cup wins and Vezina Trophy wins as the NHL's top goaltender.