The Detroit Red Wings made strides during the 2021-22 NHL Season, buoyed by the emergence of rookie phenoms Moritz Seider and Lucas Raymond and even helping to make fans think that their postseason drought stood a good chance of ending thanks to their having been in the Wild Card race in the first three months of the campaign.
However, they came crashing back to reality after the calendar turned to February, as glaring holes on their back end as well as in net were exposed. Detroit’s goals against average is now collectively the worst in the NHL, and fans had to endure several nights of terror that saw the Red Wings routinely allow five or more tallies (including games of eight, nine, ten and even eleven goals against).
Needless to say, there’s still plenty more work to do by GM Steve Yzerman before the Red Wings are actually ready to contend again. And as this season draws to a close, there are several players on the roster eligible to become free-agents. Who will and won’t be back next season?
D Marc Staal
The veteran defenseman has brought a stabilizing presence to Detroit’s blue line, and was also named an assistant captain prior to this season. And while he’s on the back end of his career, his mentorship could be a valuable asset should 2021 top draft selection Simon Edvinssona make the squad next year. Expect to see him return for at least one more season.
F Filip Zadina, RFA
It’s been a frustrating year for Zadina, whom the Red Wings were counting on to be a key part of their offense. With only ten goals on the season, Zadina has been extremely underwhelming compared to his draft position. However, Yzerman didn’t decide to part ways with him at the Trade Deadline, meaning that he could still see a future for Zadina in the Motor City.
F Sam Gagner, UFA
The veteran forward has proven to be a valuable commodity for the Red Wings, providing leadership in the locker room and also playing a key role on the penalty kill. He’s certainly earned himself another short-term deal with Detroit and has openly stated that he hopes to be back with the team next year.
G Thomas Greiss, UFA
Greiss has been both hot and cold this season for Detroit, though his goals-against average can be mostly blamed on the fact that the defense in front of him simply isn’t that good. He likely won’t be re-signed.
D Danny DeKeyser, UFA
The former Western Michigan Broncos defenseman is one of the last of the bloated contracts signed by former GM Ken Holland. Following back surgery, DeKeyser has looked nothing like the stable player that he was near the beginning of his career. He almost certainly won’t be back. Additionally, don’t be surprised to see him call it a career since it’s unlikely he’ll garner any interest from another NHL team.
F Carter Rowney
The 4th line forward has only appeared in 27 games this season thanks to injuries. He likely won’t be extended.
F Taro Hirose, RFA
The former Michigan State Spartan was signed by the Red Wings as an undrafted free agent but hasn’t been able to secure a permanent spot in the lineup. He’s mostly played with the AHL affiliate Grand Rapids Griffins
D Jake Walman, RFA
Acquired from the St. Louis Blues in the Nick Leddy trade, Walman has fit in decently with his new team and certainly hasn’t been shy of using his booming shot. Don’t be surprised to see him back next season.
G Calvin Pickard
The veteran netminder is a career backup who has spent the majority of his time in the Red Wings organization playing with the American Hockey League affiliate Grand Rapids Griffins. Should he be re-signed, it will strictly be to provide depth at the AHL level.
F Mitchell Stephens, RFA
Originally a high second-round selection in 2015 (33rd overall) by the Tampa Bay Lightning under Yzerman, Stephens could be brought back on a cheap short-term deal.
D Olli Juolevi, RFA
Juolevi was claimed off the waiver wire from the Florida Panthers earlier this year and hasn’t exactly impressed with no points and a -1 rating. Don’t expect to see him back.
D Brian Lashoff, RFA
The veteran defenseman has spent plenty of years in the Red Wings organization and could be brought back if only to continue playing with the AHL’s Grand Rapids Griffins.
The following players have yet to appear in NHL action:
G Kaden Fulcher, RFA
F Riley Barber, UFA
F Ryan Murphy, UFA
D Dan Renouf, UFA
G Victor Brattstrom, RFA
F Chase Pearson, RFA
G Filip Larsson