The 2021 NHL Draft Lottery is just 24 hours away, and the Red Wings find themselves in a familiar spot: a top-ten slot. With next year’s draft led by elite talent like Shane Wright, the question must be asked: Will Detroit have similar odds next year when there are game changers, like Wright, sitting at the top of the draft board?
Red Wings Head back to the Atlantic
Perhaps the most important change affecting the win/loss column will be the shift back to “normal” division alignment. Because of the altered Covid-19 year, Detroit’s opponents were limited to those within the Central division, which was one of the more top-heavy divisions, with plenty of rebuilding or “retooling” teams to match up against.
But next year, the divisions will likely return to their previous form. That means a return to the Atlantic. Detroit will be facing a much better set of teams, as the Boston Bruins, Toronto Maple Leafs, Florida Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning all sit at the top. Although the team did improve this year, especially defensively (From league worst average goals against in 2019 to 20th in
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2020), the switch back to a tougher schedule will be a litmus test of where the team’s compete level truly is.
The improved 2020 campaign wasn’t just because of the opponents: Detroit really did field a better overall team. Players like Troy Stecher, Filip Zadina and Jakub Vrana (following the trade from Washington) all helped the team take steps forward. Not to mention the stellar goaltending throughout the year by Jonathan Bernier, and the fantastic back-half that Thomas Greiss had.
The Red Wings roster will only get better next year. Prospects are going to start sticking to the main roster, as Lucas Raymond, Joe Veleno and a few others fight their way to Detroit. Moritz Seider will start day one on the Red Wings, and even if he’s a bottom pairing defenseman, he’ll have an immediate effect on the blue line.
Prospects aside, the free agent class could also shake up the main roster. With the amount of pending UFAs and RFAs already in the organization, it’s possible Steve Yzerman just sticks with mostly the same roster. Until things go into motion, forget trying to predict just exactly what Yzerman will do.
It’s too early to firmly say whether the Red Wings will receive another top ten slot in next year’s draft lottery. Fans will get a better idea of the team after the draft, training camp and free agency. With the changes to the lottery, a team that wins will only be allowed to move up ten spots, meaning Detroit will have to finish in the bottom eleven.
Considering the division shift, Detroit will have its hands full with the likes of Boston, Toronto, Tampa Bay, and Florida–not to mention the other contenders they’ll see next season. Though they’ll have a shot at a top two pick tomorrow, it will be very interesting to see whether they’ll be in entrants in the Shane Wright Sweepstakes when the time comes for 2022’s draft.