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.

Thoughts on the 2021 Season

The Red Wings’ 2021 campaign wrapped up on Saturday night in Columbus, a 5-4 overtime loss to the  Blue Jackets.

With that, the strangest season on record ended with perhaps the most predictable result.  The Red Wings having slightly improved, still finishing in the bottom third of the league, still missing the playoffs.

While the team was competitive on many nights, which was good to see, there still wasn’t a lot to be excited about over the season.

Oh, sure, it was good to see Thomas Greiss right himself after a slow start, giving the Red Wings two solid goalies after spending the 2019-20 campaign with only Jonathan Bernier able to win.

Michael Rasmussen took a big step forward in his development.  Adam Erne – mostly due to one very hot streak – matched a career high in points despite the shortened schedule.  Filip Zadina put up 20 points in a top-six role.

These are all good things.  But they’re small steps forward.  They’re necessary for the rebuild that the Red Wings are going through.  Perhaps more importantly, for the most part, they were expected.  And as I said off the top, this team did what was predicted.

Perhaps the least-predictable thing was Steve Yzerman‘s trade deadline deal of Anthony Mantha to the Washington Capitals.

Dealing Mantha, who – while only 26 – is at the older end of Detroit’s rebuild core, makes a lot of sense.  Especially when the return is considered.  Richard Panik is a throw-in for salary considerations but the younger Jakub Vrana put up a point per game once coming to Detroit, plus a first- and second-rounder.  That’s a lot of options for the continuing rebuild.

But the Mantha deal was the lone bit of meaningful excitement from the season.  Yes, Vrana’s four-goal night was fun to watch, as was Sam Gagner‘s hat trick, but what impact did those performances have on the season as a whole?  Little, if any.

The season always had a “lets get through this and see what we can do when we come out the other side” feel to it.  And now we’re on the other side.

So what’s next?

It would appear that the coaching question will be answered first.  Jeff Blashill‘s contract is up.  The Wings haven’t performed well under him but he hasn’t exactly had much to work with, either.  I can see Yzerman bringing him back and I can also see him bringing someone else in.  It really depends on whether Yzerman thinks any of the other coaches available would do better under the circumstances.

I’m not sure they would.  So, right now, my guess is that Blashill is back on a short-term deal.  Perhaps with a revamped coaching staff surrounding him.

After the coaching question is answered will come the expansion draft, as I’m assuming the Red Wings won’t move to lock up any of their unrestricted free agents if it means expending an expansion draft protection slot on them.  There are lots of ways Detroit could go in their protection strategy but, of note, I expect to see Evgeny Svechnikov and one of Dennis Cholowski or Gustav Lindstrom made available.  Richard Panik will be available.

Like Vegas – who selected Tomas Nosek from Detroit – before them, Seattle will be picking from kids who haven’t fully cracked the lineup yet and overpriced veterans.  I would love to see them take Panik off of Detroit’s hands but I don’t see it happening.  I could see them taking Givani Smith in the same vein as the Golden Knights’ pick of Nosek.  My expectation, though, is that they’ll swing for the fences and take Svechnikov, hoping they can give him the opportunity the Wings never seemed to be able to.

Either way, whoever the Kraken take from Detroit, it’s likely to be someone who would be disappointing to lose but whose departure doesn’t drastically impact the rebuild.

Beyond the expansion draft is free agency, which is so far away that I’m not going to bother trying to predict anything.  That, though, is where we’ll see if we should expect more of the same next year, as the new Wings’ roster is assembled.

Red Wings Sign Raymond to ELC

The Detroit Red Wings announced the signing of 2020 fourth-overall draft pick Lucas Raymond to his three-year entry-level deal on Friday.

The contract begins with the 2021-22 season.  This does not preclude him from appearing in North America – either with the Red Wings or the Grand Rapids Griffins – at some point this season, simply that he would need to sign an additional amateur try-out contract to do so.

Raymond had put up 18 points in 34 games for Frolunda of the SHL this season before  a shoulder injury sidelined him in February.

Post Trade Deadline Thoughts

I started mentally putting this post together just as today’s NHL trade deadline passed but held off on actually writing it for a little bit, knowing how trades often aren’t announced until well after the actual deadline.

That was somewhat fortuitous, given that the Red Wings’ biggest deadline deal wasn’t officially announced until 45 minutes post-deadline, when the team confirmed that Anthony Mantha had been traded to the Washington Capitals for Jakub Vrana, Richard Panik, a first-round pick this year, and a second-round pick next year.

As I said in my write-up of the deal, I can’t stand Panik.  I hope he’s made available in the expansion draft and, for some reason, the Kraken take him and his contract.  But I’m curious about Vrana in a top-line role with this team.  I also think the Wings’ rebuild probably won’t work with third and fourth round picks alone so getting the first and second from Washington is important.

Detroit’s previous deals were to send Jon Merrill to the Montreal Canadiens, Patrik Nemeth to the Colorado Avalanche, and to help facilitate the Columbus Blue Jackets’ trade of David Savard to the Tampa Bay Lightning.  These were all players on expiring contracts or just salary cap space and, while fourth and fifth rounders aren’t sexy (and, as I said, probably aren’t enough on their own to facilitate a rebuild), they’re essentially free picks and you take those every time.

It’s the deals that didn’t happen that bother me about this deadline, as they have with every deadline since the Red Wings became sellers.

For years we’ve been told to just wait for some of Detroit’s players to hit the final year of their contracts and we’d see them flipped at the deadline.  Mike Green, Jimmy Howard, Trevor Daley, Jonathan Ericsson.  Of them, only Green netted anything, and that was on his second expiring contract with Detroit after everyone passed the first time around due to him being injured.

This year was supposed to be the year for flipping vets for picks.  Bobby Ryan, Jon Merrill, Patrik Nemeth, Marc Staal, Sam Gagner, Luke Glendening, Darren Helm, Valtteri Filppula, Jonathan Bernier.  All on expiring deals.  But then, like Green before him, Ryan got hurt.  Like Howard, no market developed for Bernier.  Merrill and Nemeth were moved but no one called on the league’s leading faceoff man in Glendening, playoff performer Helm, or versatile veteran Gagner.

As I said in 2019, “I get that you can’t trade for things that other teams don’t want to give you.”  If there wasn’t a trade to be made, then there wasn’t a trade to be made, and that’s that.  But as I also said then, “I think that’s the part that’s depressing to me. Not that the Wings were sellers. Not that the team is in a rebuild. That they’re sellers with not much to sell, so they can’t get big pieces back for the rebuild.”

The Red Wings sold Mantha because he was the only piece anyone wanted, much like when they moved Tomas Tatar in 2018.  Both the Mantha and Tatar deals were good deals but that doesn’t mean it’s not hard to look at the big picture and think it wasn’t enough.

Especially when, back in the final years of the Red Wings’ playoff streak, a Glendening or Helm or Gagner or Staal is exactly the kind of player then-GM Ken Holland would have paid a hefty price to acquire for a postseason push.  Is Staal really that different from Marek Zidlicky or Gagner that different from Erik Cole?  Squinting a little, are Glendening or Helm that far off from the David Legwand the Red Wings acquired (rather than the one he had been for years up to that point)?

Nine years ago, Paul freakin’ Gaustad fetched a first-rounder when he was sent from the Sabres to the Predators.  Now no one wants Glendening.  And you know what?  That’s smart.  Gaustad never was worth that much and Glendening isn’t, either.  But it’s hard to see buyers giving up that much when the Red Wings were buyers but now that the Wings are sellers, the market has changed.

Blame the flat cap, blame Detroit just not having good enough players to sell.  Whatever it is, it doesn’t make it easy to see.

Red Wings Trade Mantha to Capitals

As the NHL’s trade deadline came and went on Monday, it looked like the Red Wings had remained relatively quiet, until the late-breaking news that they had sent forward Anthony Mantha to the Washington Capitals, first reported by Kevin Weekes.

The “more” ended up being a first round draft pick in 2021 and a second round draft pick in 2022.

As I mentioned on Twitter, the longer the Wings went without moving some of their depth pieces, the more it was looking like the 2018 deadline, where Detroit had to sell Tomas Tatar just to get anything of value back.  And Mantha was primed to be this year’s Tatar, so this doesn’t come as a complete shock.

I’ll be honest, I can’t stand Richard Panik.  I pulled up CapFriendly to see how long he’s signed for and audibly sighed: Through 2023 with a $2.75 million salary cap hit.  My hope right now is that Seattle claims him in the expansion draft this summer but I’m not expecting it.

Jakub Vrana is a restricted free agent this summer.  He’s 25 so the Wings get a little younger there.  With 25 points, he immediately slots in as Detroit’s top scorer.

It’s clear that the picks are the big win for Detroit, though.

I’m not okay with how the rest of the deadline went, and I’ll write about that later, but this is a good deal for Detroit.