Could the Detroit Red Wings' playoff drought be over?
When it comes to the NHL playoffs, few individuals command as much respect as Nicklas Lidstrom. The man is virtually synonymous with postseason hockey, given his 20 consecutive seasons appearing in the playoffs—a record he holds alongside Larry Robinson. So when Lidstrom speaks about playoff potential, the hockey world listens.
Seven Years of Frustration
It's been a grueling seven years for the Red Wings, who have felt the weight of failing to qualify for the postseason since 2016. It's a sobering statistic, especially for a team that, prior to Lidstrom's arrival in 1991, missed the playoffs 13 times in 20 years. Now, Mr. Playoffs himself believes that change is on the horizon.
Red Wings' Transformation Under Nicklas Lidstrom & Yzerman
Taking on an advisory role to GM Steve Yzerman, Lidstrom is part of the brain trust behind a Detroit team undergoing significant change. The roster has seen new life breathed into it, most notably with the addition of two-time 40-plus goal scorer Alex DeBrincat.
“We have strengthened the whole team and I think we should be a playoff team in the spring,” Lidstrom confidently told expressen.se writer Gunnar Nordstrom.
Spotlight on Young Talent
Lidstrom didn't stop at the roster's veterans. He also highlighted the potential of the team’s young Swedish players, particularly Lucas Raymond.
Despite a drop in Raymond's production last season, Lidstrom is not concerned.
“He improved during the second half of last season, so I'm not worried,” assured Lidstrom. He believes that Raymond, now in his third NHL season, will come back hungrier.
“There can be a dip in the second year in the NHL when all opponents know how good you are and the courting becomes tougher. And everyone now knows how good Lucas is. But I am convinced that he will come back with a little desire for revenge.”
But the promise isn't confined to Raymond. Big forward Elmer Soderblom and Swedish prospect William Wallinder also got a nod from Lidstrom for their potential to contribute significantly to the team's future. Their growth and inclusion in the main roster could be the extra push the Red Wings need to get into the postseason.
“William has stepped up in Rögle and become more even in his game,” Lidstrom said. “He can be involved in all situations and the idea is that he will stay in North America next season. If he doesn’t get a place in the Red Wings before the start of the series, it will be Grand Rapids.”
“Elmer was unlucky with injuries at the end of the season in Grand Rapids,” Lidstrom said. “He absolutely has the potential to break into the team this fall even if the competition is tough.”
The Injury Factor and Future Prospects
Injuries are the bane of any sports team, and the Red Wings have had their share. Lidstrom expressed optimism about Elmer Soderblom, who had an injury-marred season in Grand Rapids. For prospects like Simon Edvinsson, who is recovering from offseason shoulder surgery, Lidstrom recommends a wait-and-see approach. The same goes for Albert Johansson, another young talent fighting for a roster spot.
“We’ll see if he’s ready for the (season) to start in October,” Lidstrom said. “But we are aware that it may take longer. And don’t forget that we also have Albert Johansson, 22, who is fighting for a place in the defense.”
TL;DR (too long didn't read)
- Nicklas Lidstrom, an icon in Detroit Red Wings history, predicts a playoff return for the team in the 2023-24 season.
- Lidstrom highlights the key players and recent changes that make this Detroit Red Wings' playoff chances high.
- Lidstrom is particularly optimistic about Detroit’s young Swedish talents, like Lucas Raymond and William Wallinder.
Bottom Line: In Lidstrom We Trust
With a playoff appearance record that's second to none, when Lidstrom speaks, you listen. His intimate knowledge of the game and the Red Wings' roster offers an encouraging outlook for the franchise's future. The seven-season playoff drought seems likely to break if his assessment holds any weight. His optimism, coupled with Detroit’s talent reservoir and strategic moves, gives Red Wings fans every reason to look toward the 2023-24 season with hope.