The 2020-21 season is, at best, about 12 weeks away. With Detroit GM Steve Yzerman’s signings over the last couple days, though, we can get a look at what the Red Wings’ lineup might look like.
I’ve touched on this as players were signed but want to pull it all together and take a full look at it here.
Anthony Mantha – Dylan Larkin – Tyler Bertuzzi
Filip Zadina – Vladislav Namestnikov – Robby Fabbri
Dmytro Timashov – Sam Gagner – Bobby Ryan
Darren Helm – Luke Glendening – Valtteri Filppula
Danny DeKeyser – Filip Hronek
Patrik Nemeth – Troy Stecher
Marc Staal – Jon Merrill
I think that lineup is an upgrade over the one they iced on opening night a year ago. The question is, how much better? Playoff contention better? Or just “not the worst team in the league by far” better? Probably somewhere in between.
There are a few players missing here, which could be a problem.
Evgeny Svechnikov doesn’t have a roster spot. Given that he’s on a one-year deal and isn’t waiver exempt anymore, he kind of needs one and a final chance to prove himself.
Maybe Filip Zadina stays in Czechia and Bobby Ryan moves up a line and Svechnikov slots in where Ryan was. Maybe Tyler Bertuzzi goes to arbitration and that opens up a new buyout window for the Wings, and Frans Nielsen gets bought out, opening up a spot for Svechnikov. There’s been interest in Luke Glendening in the past; maybe the Wings move on that sooner rather than later, Helm or Filppula move to centering the fourth line, and Svechnikov slots in there.
Similarly, there’s not a spot on defense for Moritz Seider, Gustav Lindstrom, or Dennis Cholowski. I don’t see how Seider and Lindstrom aren’t in Europe for the duration of the season but that doesn’t help Cholowski. If the AHL actually has a season, I think we’ll see Cholowski with the Griffins, getting a lot of minutes. If the AHL can’t go, we’ll have to see how the NHL adapts before guessing what happens with Cholowski.
Of course, depending on what the NHL schedule looks like, the trade deadline could come around the end of the season for the European leagues, so Detroit could sell at the deadline and then fill their roster spots with players coming back over. There are a lot of questions to answer with how the season will work, first.
Update, October 12, 11:30 AM: There is an option with regards to Nielsen that I failed to note above. The Red Wings don’t need to clear his cap space or his spot on the 50-man Reserve List; he could just be waived and assigned to the Griffins (or somewhere else). With buyouts on the brain, somehow I missed that.
They’d be paying him a lot of money to play in the AHL but it might serve a dual purpose. Depending on what happens with the AHL season and the various European leagues, the Red Wings might have players who would otherwise be filling roster spots in GR instead playing overseas. By sending Nielsen down, they’d get the Griffins a body that they’d otherwise have to sign.
Jersey Geek Guessing Game Recap
Every player the Red Wings acquired via free agency previously wore a number that is currently assigned to a Detroit player or prospect. Here are my guesses as to how each player’s number will work out with the Wings.
Bobby Ryan has worn #9 for much of his career, aside from #6 for a few years in Ottawa when #9 was taken and #54 as a rookie in Anaheim (and in some international tournaments). Of course, #9 is retired in Detroit and #6 is out of circulation. He said he’d like #17 because he was a Brett Hull fan, or #12, but #17 belongs to Filip Hronek and #12 is retired as well. My guess is that Ryan either pries #17 from Hronek (perhaps Hronek switches to the #79 he wore in his youth) or he goes back to #54. Longshot option: He gets Hull’s number but it’s not the #17 he wore in Detroit, rather the #16 he wore elsewhere, with the Red Wings deciding it’s time to stop keeping it out of circulation.
Jon Merrill wore #15 for three years with the Vegas Golden Knights and #7 for much of his time prior to that with the New Jersey Devils. Dmytro Timashov currently has #15 and #7 is retired. I could see Timashov switching to the #88 he wore before coming to the NHL, which would open up #15 for Merrill, or I could see Merrill wearing the #24 he wore at Michigan, taking it from prospect Antti Tuomisto.
Thomas Greiss has worn #1 for his entire NHL career but it’s retired in Detroit. It’s hard to tell if there’s a different number he prefers. By keeping #30 and #33 out of circulation, the Red Wings make it hard to work with traditional goalie numbers. I’m guessing they’ll hold off on assigning #35 for a bit but if they don’t, Greiss could take that. They could make #30 available again and give him that. They could take numbers from any of the goalie prospects. He could go non-traditional with #60 or #80 or something. If they don’t do any of those things, I’m guessing #29 goes to Greiss.
Troy Stecher wore #51 for his whole Vancouver Canucks career but Valtteri Filppula has that in Detroit. Stecher wore #2 for his college career at North Dakota and, while that’s currently assigned to Joe Hicketts in Detroit, Hicketts’ path to the Red Wings seems to be gone, so the team could let Stecher take his number. I could also see Stecher taking Jonathan Ericsson’s #52, if the team allows it, or something like #42.
Vladislav Namestnikov has worn #90 for virtually his entire career. Joe Veleno has it in Detroit but he’s not in Detroit right now. Will the Red Wings make one of their top prospects give up his number to someone who’s on a short-term deal? If so, there’s an easy answer. If not, I’d love to see him take his uncle Vyacheslav Kozlov’s #13, but it’ll probably be something like #95 or #98. Or #60 if Greiss doesn’t go that route.