Red Wings’ 2021-22 Schedule Released

The National Hockey League released its schedule for the 2021-22 season on Thursday, including that of the Detroit Red Wings.

The Red Wings will open their campaign hosting the defending champion Tampa Bay Lightning on October 14, 2021, and will close it out with a visit to the New Jersey Devils on April 29, 2022.

There will be a handful of firsts for the Wings spread throughout the season.

Their first matchup against the expansion Seattle Kraken will take place at Detroit’s Little Caesars Arena on December 1.  Their first visit to the New York Islanders’ new UBS Arena will be later that month, on December 29.  Their first game at Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle will be on March 19.

New Red Wing Nick Leddy will face his former Islander teammates for the first time on December 4 in Detroit.  Wings goalie Alex Nedeljkovic will oppose his former Carolina Hurricanes teammates on December 16.

Detroit’s annual New Year’s Eve game returns to the schedule as the Red Wings host the Washington Capitals and Anthony Mantha.

There will be only two home-and-home series on the schedule, with the Red Wings facing the Buffalo Sabres on January 15 and January 17 and the Ottawa Senators on April 1 and April 3.

Detroit plays on back-to-back days 14 times throughout the season, with each one of them involving travel between the games.

Red Wings Acquire Goalie Nedeljkovic From Carolina

The Detroit Red Wings acquired goalie Alex Nedeljkovic from the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday in return for a third-round draft pick and the rights to pending unrestricted free agent goalie Jonathan Bernier.

The draft pick was Vegas’, acquired in the 2018 Tomas Tatar trade.

Nedelkjovic was a pending restricted free agent but, per his agent, immediately signed a two-year deal with Detroit carrying a $3 million salary cap hit.

The 25-year-old former Plymouth Whaler and Flint Firebird had a breakout season last year, putting up a .932 save percentage and 1.90 goals against average after taking over the crease when former Red Wing Petr Mrazek went down with an injury.

I love this move.  I think the Red Wings were going to pay around $3 million for a goalie to replace Bernier no matter what and giving up a third rounder makes it worth it to ensure that it’s someone who could be in Detroit for a long time going forward.  Nedeljkovic is immediately the Red Wings’ goalie of the future due to a complete lack of any prospects in the pipeline.

Wings Sign Rasmussen to Contract Extension

The Detroit Red Wings announced the signing of pending restricted free agent forward Michael Rasmussen to a three-year deal on Thursday.

Financial terms were not officially announced, of course, but PuckPedia reports the deal carries a $1.46 million salary cap hit.

This looks like a solid deal to me.  Rasmussen was one of the Wings’ better players late in the season but he has yet to fully prove himself.  This deal gives him a raise but not so much of one that the Wings will be weighed down by it if he doesn’t continue to grow as a player, and he will still be an RFA at its expiration.

With Rasmussen signed, the Red Wings are up tosix forwards from last season’s roster under contract.

Red Wings Lose Cholowski to Kraken via Expansion Draft

The Seattle Kraken announced their thirty Expansion Draft selections on Wednesday night, including the pick of Dennis Cholowski from the Detroit Red Wings.

Cholowski was Detroit’s first-round pick in the 2016 Entry Draft but had a hard time sticking in the Red Wings’ lineup.

I didn’t want for the Wings to lose Cholowski, but at the same time I don’t feel bad that they did.  Maybe he’ll thrive in a different environment.  He’s not a Red Wing anymore so I don’t care either way.

But his departure causes me to look back at the Wings draft picks from that era with disappointment.

Going back to the 2014 draft, first-rounder Dylan Larkin is the only player to have established himself in the NHL.  Dominic Turgeon is still in the organization and Christoffer Ehn played with the Wings for a bit but Chase Perry, Julius Vahatalo, Axel Holmstrom, and Alexander Kadeykin never made it.

From 2015, first-rounder Evgeni Svechnikov hasn’t been able to regularly crack the lineup.  Fifth-rounder Chase Pearson might have fourth-line potential.  Vili Saarijarvi was traded away for a goalie who was waived after two games, Joren van Pottleberghe doesn’t seem to have a future in North America, Patrick Holway is unsigned and Adam Marsh never made it.

In 2016, there was the now-departed Cholowski, Givani Smith and Filip Hronek selected in the second round, and then Alfons Malmstrom, Jordan Sambrook, Filip Larsson, and Mattias Elfstrom.  Hronek is Detroit’s top defender right now and Smith probably has a spot on the fourth line.  Larsson could recover his college form, but the others are a loss.

Finally, there’s the 2017 draft, the first one where the team couldn’t deny that a rebuild was underway.  The Red Wings stocked up on third round picks that year, looking for as many “lottery tickets” as possible.  Those third-rounders ended up being Kasper Kotkansalo, who has yet to sign with Detroit; and Lane Zablocki, Zach Gallant, and Keith Petruzzelli, none of whom signed.  Michael Rasmussen came out of the first round and Gustav Lindstrom came out of the second.  Then there was Malte Setkov, Cole Fraser, Jack Adams, Reilly Webb, and Brady Gilmour.  Of those, only Adams still has a chance in Detroit.

So over four years, four first-round picks in the top twenty, and thirty-one draft picks overall, what the Wings have to show for it is Larkin, Smith, Hronek, Rasmussen, and Lindstrom.  A top two center, a fourth liner, a top four defenseman, a third liner, and a third-pair defenseman.  If you really want to reach, maybe Svechnikov still pans out.  Maybe Kotkansalo or Adams or Larsson does something.

That’s just abysmal for a time frame where the team’s core was aging and they really needed to be gearing up for the future.

Red Wings Announce 2021 Exhibition Schedule

The Detroit Red Wings announced their 2021 preseason exhibition schedule on Monday.

The eight-game slate includes home and away games against the Buffalo Sabres, Chicago Blackhawks, Columbus Blue Jackets, and Pittsburgh Penguins.

Detroit’s slate of opponents had remained relatively stable throughout the 2010s after the Boston Bruins replaced the Philadelphia Flyers in 2011.  This marks the second major switch-up in as many preseasons, however.  The New York Islanders replaced the Bruins in 2019 and, with no preseason games played in 2020, now the Islanders and Toronto Maple Leafs have been swapped out for the Sabres and Blue Jackets.

The full exhibition schedule is as follows:

Date Opponent Venue Time
September 29, 2021 Chicago Blackhawks United Center 8:30 PM
September 30, 2021 Buffalo Sabres Little Caesars Arena 7:30 PM
October 2, 2021 Columbus Blue Jackets Little Caesars Arena 7:00 PM
October 3, 2021 Pittsburgh Penguins PPG Paints Arena 1:00 PM
October 4, 2021 Chicago Blackhawks Little Caesars Arena 7:30 PM
October 6, 2021 Columbus Blue Jackets Nationwide Arena 7:00 PM
October 7, 2021 Pittsburgh Penguins Little Caesars Arena 7:30 PM
October 9, 2021 Buffalo Sabres Key Bank Center 3:00 PM

The 2021-22 regular season schedule is expected to be announced on Thursday.

Red Wings Expose Stetcher, Cholowski for Expansion Draft

Protection lists for each of the National Hockey League’s teams in the upcoming Seattle Kraken expansion draft were distributed at 10 AM on Sunday and, unsurprisingly, began to leak out almost immediately.

In order to protect defenseman Nick Leddy – acquired from the New York Islanders on Friday – Detroit chose to expose Troy Stetcher, coming off a fantastic turn at the World Championships that included an assist on the tournament-winning goal.

There had been much discussion about whether or not Stetcher would be exposed in order to protect young defensemen Dennis Cholowski – a former first-round pick – and Gustav Lindstrom.  Instead, Stetcher’s presumed spot went to Leddy.  Filip Hronek and Lindstrom were the other two defensemen protected, leaving Cholowski exposed.

At forward, Vladislav Namestnikov was exposed in order to meet eligibility requirements.  Richard Panik had been the only other Red Wings forward who had played enough games, was under contract for the coming season, and who wasn’t a lock to be protected, but Panik was sent to the Islanders in the Leddy deal, forcing Namestnikov to be left off the list.

Namestnikov’s exclusion left room for Detroit to protect Givani Smith, with another former first-rounder, Evgeni Svechnikov, as the odd man out up front.

As expected, Thomas Greiss was the goalie Detroit protected, as Jonathan Bernier is a pending unrestricted free agent.

Other notable – but not necessarily surprising – names left exposed by Detroit include Danny DeKeyser and Frans Nielsen.

Red Wings Acquire Defenseman Leddy from Islanders

The Detroit Red Wings acquired defenseman Nick Leddy from the New York Islanders on Friday, in exchange for forward Richard Panik and a second-round pick in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft.

Detroit also retains 50% of Panik’s salary, $1.375 million for the next two seasons.

This deal doesn’t make sense to me.

Leddy is probably an upgrade over some of Detroit’s defensemen from last season, sure.  But to take on his salary, retain half of Panik’s salary, and throw in a second-round draft pick to make that upgrade seems like a steep price to pay.

Additionally, by completing the trade now, the Red Wings pretty much have to protect Leddy over Troy Stetcher for the Seattle Kraken expansion draft.  Stetcher was not one of the defensemen Leddy would be an upgrade over, so add the risk of losing Stetcher to the cost paid for Leddy and I really don’t get it.

Sure, there’s the “They’ll get a first-rounder for Leddy at the next trade deadline” argument but, as I’ve written before, we go into every season with some player who for sure will be flipped for a high pick at the deadline and it never happens, so we should probably stop being so sure about that.  Additionally, if the Wings do lose Stetcher to Seattle, the cost includes a guy they probably could have flipped for a second-rounder.

One thing I haven’t touched on is giving up Richard Panik.  I said when he was acquired that I don’t like him, he did nothing to endear himself to me in his short tenure with Detroit, and I don’t see a negative to his departure.

I don’t get the timing on this move and I don’t get the cost.  Maybe there’s something else coming but as it is right now, this looks like a really bad deal to me.

Wings Hire Tanguay as Assistant Coach

The Detroit Red Wings announced on Wednesday the hiring of Alex Tanguay as assistant coach.

Tanguay replaces Dan Bylsma, whose contract was not renewed when the Red Wings brought back head coach Jeff Blashill.

The Red Wings’ statement on the hiring specifically called out Tanguay’s work on the power play with the AHL’s Iowa Wild over the last two seasons.

Iowa had the AHL’s fifth-best power play in Tanguay’s first season behind the bench at 21.9 percent, and its offense was among the league’s most productive, improving from 3.08 goals per game in 2019-20 to 3.15 goals per game over a 34-game schedule in 2020-21. The Wild also had the second-best shot-per-game average in the AHL in each of the past two seasons, averaging 32.68 combined in Tanguay’s tenure with the club.

The longtime Colorado Avalanche forward also scored 28% of his points on the power play.

Tanguay sounds like a good hire for Detroit.  I wasn’t really expecting him but, with those numbers, maybe I should have been.

I’d kind of come around on the idea of Igor Larionov as assistant coach but I have no idea if that was ever actually an option for the Wings or just social media spitballing.

Wings to Pick Sixth after Draft Lottery

The Detroit Red Wings will pick sixth overall for the third time in the last four NHL Entry Drafts.

The Wings neither dropped down nor moved up as the league conducted its annual Draft Lottery on Wednesday.  They slotted into the sixth spot by virtue of their fifth-to-last place finish in the league’s standings, having been bumped down one more spot by the expansion Seattle Kraken.

In the 2018 NHL Entry Draft, Detroit selected Filip Zadina at sixth overall.  One year later, they picked Moritz Seider at that spot.

Detroit will also have a second selection in the opening round, owning the Washington Capitals’ pick via the Anthony Mantha trade.  That pick will be either 23rd or 24th overall.  If the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Carolina Hurricans in their Division Final playoff series, the pick will be 23rd, otherwise it will be 24th.

Red Wings Bring Back Blashill as Head Coach

The Detroit Red Wings announced on Tuesday the signing of head coach Jeff Blashill to a contract extension.

Blashill’s contract with Detroit had been set to expire this offseason.

In six seasons as the Red Wings’ head coach, Blashill has taken the team to the playoffs only once.  His overall record with Detroit is 172-221-62.

Notably, the length of the extension was not announced.

The team also revealed that assistant coach Dan Bylsma will not return to the team.


Blashill hasn’t exactly had much to work with as far as talent on the roster goes during his time in Detroit, so I understand the idea of keeping him to see what he could do with a more well-assembled group of players.

The problem with that thinking, though, is the question of whether or not the roster will be better next season.  If the roster isn’t going to be much better and the coach isn’t going to be different, how are you expecting a different outcome?

Perhaps the thinking is that a different coach couldn’t do better with the players Detroit has available.  That may also be true and is a little harder to counter.

I don’t particularly think it was necessary to make a change.  That said, it feels a lot like, over the years, the organization has been content to trot out the same old players, the same old coaches, and hope for something to change.  Swapping out Blashill would have been a sign that these losses, no matter how necessary for draft capital and the rebuild, are unacceptable over the long-term.