Detroit Red Wings predictions: Even in shortened season, steps forward in rebuild are vital

Detroit Free Press

Helene St. James

Jeff Seidel

Shawn Windsor
 
| Detroit Free Press

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Our Free Press sports writers share their thoughts on how the Detroit Red Wings‘ season will shake out: 

Helene St. James

Best-case scenario: Wings play competitive hockey, avoid being derailed by injuries/illness, and take a step forward in the rebuild.

Worst-case scenario: They get off to a bad start and then see what depth they’ve built up depleted by injuries or illness.

[ Wings doing all they can to fight COVID-19: ‘The life we live in right now’ ]

Breakout player: Filip Zadina. He’s grown stronger and more mature, and should be good for around 14-15 goals in a 56-game season. 

Goals leader: Anthony Mantha. If he stays healthy, he’s a dominant force who even in a shortened season could hit somewhere in the 20-goal range.

Will they make the playoffs: It would be stunning if they did. This season will be judged on whether the young players improve, and how competitive the team plays overall. 

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Why Dylan Larkin is encouraged about Red Wings’ 2021 season

Dylan Larkin interview, Jan. 9, 2021.

Helene St. James, Detroit Free Press

Jeff Seidel

Best-case scenario: Tyler Bertuzzi, Dylan Larkin and Anthony Mantha rock and roll together. Steve Yzerman is able to flip several vets at the deadline. And the Wings win the lottery, landing a future star. 

Worst-case scenario: Several youngsters struggle. The Wings try to flip some vets at the deadline but get little in return and then fall back in the draft lottery … again. Ugh. 

Breakout player: Coming off his play in the Czech Republic, Filip Zadina shows his growing confidence, starting out sizzling hot. He stays healthy and scores 20 goals. 

[ Mantha has a new special teams job: Stopping goals ]

Goals leader: Anthony Mantha will surge — and stay healthy — while playing with Larkin and Mantha. 

Will they make the playoffs: No way. This will be the fifth-straight year without the playoffs. 

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Red Wings’ Luke Glendening on playing in a pandemic

Luke Glendening interview, Jan. 9, 2021.

Helene St. James, Detroit Free Press

Shawn Windsor

Best-case scenario: The young guys keep improving and the team occasionally takes a heavyweight down. Also: stay healthy.

Worst-case scenario: Injuries to youngsters, of course. Any wasted develop time would be a setback.

Breakout player: Filip Zadina, who else? A creative and gifted skater and scorer should get all the time he needs to show he’s ready.  

Goals leader: Anthony Mantha. He found ways to score on the league’s worst offensive team a year ago before injuries and the pandemic shortened his season. If he stays healthy, he should build on the promise — and production — he flashed last season. 

Will they make the playoffs: No. Not likely. This season isn’t about the playoffs anyway. It’s about staying healthy and building chemistry and getting better and trading for more assets.  

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