Detroit Red Wings 2020-21 Preview

Our Detroit Red Wings 2020-21 Preview is part of a one-a-day series covering the entire NHL. Click here for the rest of the teams in the leadup to another action-packed NHL season!

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Detroit was bad last season. Real bad. They ended up with a 17-49-5 record for dead last in the NHL.

If there ever was a team in need of winning the draft lottery it was Detroit. But they ended up losing the lotto-ball showdown and moving way down to select 4th overall. Instead of having a silver lining to their dumpster fire season and getting Alexis Lafrenierre, super hyped forward prospect first, they selected Lucas Raymond out of Sweden. No shade to Raymond, I’m sure he’s a solid player and should eventually play in the NHL, but Lafrenierre looks amazing and ready to slot in instantly. The New York Rangers, who actually were in the return to play, selected first overall, which in my mind is ludicrous. The Rangers were 16th overall in the league with a positive record, they really should have no business winning the lottery.

Let’s stick with Detroit though. Looking for positives, there was a few things for the team. They acquired depth defenseman Alex Biega from Vancouver in October, which really ended up being foreshadowing. They traded for Robby Fabbri from the St. Louis Blues in exchange for bottom six forward Jacob De La Rose in November. Fabbri ended up doing quite well in Detroit, getting 31 points in 52 games. Yzerman deftly operated at the deadline, dealing Andreas Athanasiou and Mike Green to his former boss, Ken Holland and the Edmonton Oilers. Detroit was able to get a 2020 2nd, a 2021 2nd, Sam Gagner, and a 2020 4th.

After the season ended, Yzerman signed Troy Stecher a solid defenseman who was a cap casualty in Vancouver to a reasonable 2 year, $1.7 million deal. He re-signed Fabbri to a 2 year $2.95 million contract. Evgeny Svechnikov, Andrei’s big brother, was re-signed on a cheap deal as the team is waiting for him to develop. Yzerman also brough in the recently bought out Bobby Ryan on a cheap one year deal, and two-way forward Vlad Namestnikov to provide some support in the lineup. He also signed defenseman Jon Merrill and goaltender Thomas Greiss to help out Jonathan Bernier now that Jimmy Howard comes off the books. Bernier was actually half decent this year with a 2.95 GAA and a .907 save percentage. Obviously not amazing numbers but the team was garbage. Howard was really not great with a 4.20 GAA and a .882 save percentage. His goals saved above average was -22.12. Unsurprising he couldn’t get traded and also not a surprise the Red Wings are moving on.

The best thing to look forward to for the Red Wings is actually what won’t be there anymore. This off season the team waves (or waives) goodbye to Johnathan Ericcson, Trevor Daley, Justin Abdelkader, Jimmy Howard. They also have Johan Franzen’s contract coming off the books although it was on LTIR anyway. All of these things leaving is good, and provides Yzerman with a lot more cap space to play with. He needed some of that to re-sign Anthony Mantha, which he accomplished. Mantha signed a 4 year deal with the team at $5.7 million per year. Tyler Bertuzzi went to arbitration and was awarded a one year $3.5 million deal. Would have liked to see a little longer but ultimately this is a prove your worth kind of contract and depending on how the team progresses, he may choose to stay.

At the draft, Yzerman used this space to acquire an extra draft pick. They acquired a 2021 2nd round pick, Marc Staal and his $5.7 million contract in exchange for “future considerations” to the New York Rangers. After all it wasn’t their fault they stole the draft lottery right? This means that Detroit has three 2nd round picks in the 2021 draft.

With a bit of cap space left over, Yzerman will most likely look to utilize that space and take on some more bad contracts from other teams for additional prospects or picks. With the salary cap staying flat this season there are a lot of teams struggling to do some creative accounting and keep all their guys. Yzerman has set the team up to deal out players at the deadline and further bolster their pool of prospects and picks. Will they all pan out? Probably not, but at least fans can see a clear direction for the team.

Low point of the off season? The god-awful reverse retro practice jersey’s that the Red Wings unveiled. Probably worst jersey of the entire bunch.

Roster Additions

  • Bobby Ryan
  • Vlad Namestnikov
  • Troy Stecher
  • Jon Merrill
  • Thomas Greiss

Roster Subtractions

  • Jimmy Howard
  • Jonathan Ericsson (retired)
  • Trevor Daley (retired)
  • Madison Bowey
  • Christopher Ehn
  • Brendan Perlini
  • Justin Abdelkader (bought out)
  • Johan Franzen (contract off the books)

Detroit Red Wings Roster Overview


The chemistry is pretty apparent between Dylan Larkin, Anthony Mantha, and Tyler Bertuzzi. They were the top three point earners on the team and play a lot of minutes together. When Anthony Mantha missed some time, Robby Fabbri filled in and did a pretty good job. Opening day, this line will undoubtedly be the first line and will be tasked with generating the Detroit Lion’s share of offense for this team. Dylan Larkin will be named Captain this season. Last year I wrote about how Yzerman was giving the Zetterberg retirement time to settle before naming a new captain and I think the time is coming for D-Boss Larkin to receive the honour of captain for the winged wheel. There was even a pseudo-leak from Dick’s Sporting Goods with a Larkin Jersey with the C on it.

This is cool, but that jersey is still horrible

Line two will most likely see Robby Fabbri, Vlad Namestnikov and Filip Zadina. Fabbri was a great addition to the club and I think Namestnikov’s two way game should really bring something to the team as well. Zadina, the number 6 pick in the 2018 draft, needs to take some steps in his game. He never really had consistent line mates in his 28 games with the Red Wings last year. With Yzerman confirming that Zadina will be on the opening day roster, let’s hope Zadina gets a chance to build chemistry with some stable linemates in his first full season with the big club. If Fabbri has another year like he did, and Zadina takes a step forward, this could be a functional second line. I’m not convinced that these two lines will comprise of enough offense to win games though.

The bottom six has a bit of a logjam. The team has Darren Helm, Frans Nielsen, Luke Glendening, Bobby Ryan, Adam Erne, Sam Gagner and Valtteri Filppula. Last year Helm, Glendening and Nielsen comprised the fourth line so they’ll probably stick together. The absence of Justin Abdelkader opens up a spot for someone. I think a possible third line is Filppula, Ryan and Erne. The team really just need some of these forwards to have a decent year so they can be traded to playoff teams at the deadline.

The team is startign to get quite the pool of prospects that they will want to start injecting into the lineup more. Taro Hirose, Jonatan Berggren, Michael Rasmussen, Joe Veleno, Evgeny Svechnikov, Givani Smith seem to be the guys waiting to be called up. I think they may see some time with the Wings, but they are probably better off spending more time in Grand Rapids in the AHL where they will get more playing time.


In my mind the defense of the Red Wings should be a little better this season. Jonathan Ericsson, Trevor Daley and Madison Bowey were all not great in any statistic you look at. I think all three of these alone are addition by subtraction, however, I don’t think anyone they brought in will significantly tip the scales. This team has an impressive lineage of defenseman with guys like Lidstrom, Rafalski, Konstantinov, Murphy, Chelios, Kronwall and the guys that are coming in are not quite at that level.

The team brought in Marc Staal, Troy Stecher and Jon Merril. They complement the existing lineup of Filip Hronek, Danny DeKeyser, Patrick Nemeth and Alex Biega. Since the team has effectively replaced half of the defensive lineup, it’s really a question of chemistry as to how the pairings get drawn up. Nemeth played quite a bit of time with both Biega and Hronek, so those may be a potential pairing.

The worrying thing about this lineup is the absence of a real number one and two guy. Yzerman is banking on the continued development of Filip Hronek who had 31 points putting him in the top 5 on the team for scorers. The other big thing Yzerman is counting on is Moritz Seider, Yzerman’s first round pick in the 2019 draft. He was slated to go in the end of the round but he impressed Yzerman enough to reach on him. Seider had played pro in Germany already by the time of the draft, meaning he could come to North America right away. He ended up playing for Grand Rapids in the AHL last season and earned 22 points in 49 games. I think he definitely will be in contention for a spot on the team this year.

The team also has Dennis Cholowski and Gustav Lindstrom (yes it really is Lindstrom, not Lidstrom) who may contend for a spot, or serve as some call-up depth for the team.


Jonathan Bernier wasn’t terrible and has earned his keep around Detroit. They brought in some competent help with Thomas Greiss. Greiss had a .913 and a 2.74 GAA for the Islanders last year. The Islanders are a much more defensively sound team though so here’s hoping he can still do well in a Red Wings jersey.

All things considered I have more faith in this tandem than any tandem with Jimmy Howard in it at this point.

Detroit Red Wings 2020-2021 Prediction

8th Central

Detroit will not be emerging out of the basement this season. They need to trust the Yzerplan and be patient. The addition of good depth pieces on great contracts should allow them to be sellers at the trade deadline and continue to acquire additional prospects and draft picks. The team already has an impressive list of prospects and should be able to have a pretty impressive team in a few seasons if they hold the course.

That concludes our Detroit Red Wings 2020-21 Preview. Check to see if your team has been covered yet in our 2020-21 Season Preview Series.

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