The Detroit Red Wings have gotten their fair share of kudos for shrewd drafting, and trading this offseason, and general manager Steve Yzerman has added to his core to try and nudge the rebuild into continued forward progress. NHL Network recently named them their most improved team in the Atlantic.
There are a number of candidates on the current roster prime to take the next step and here are three that should benefit greatly from the infusion of more veteran talent in Alex Nedeljkovic, Nick Leddy, and Pius Suter.
The big forward who was a “meh” pick for many fans in the 2017 NHL Draft stands to benefit the most if he gets power play time, a place where both fans and organizational higher ups expect him to make an impact. Rasmussen did look more comfortable last season in Detroit, his short stint in Grand Rapids only providing some forward momentum as his seven games in the AHL would be it in 2020-21.
It feels like the bulk of Rasmussen’s scoring opportunity would be on the man advantage, a chance to use his 6’6 frame to be a net front presence–depending on what new coach Alex Tanguay decides to do schematically. (My hope is a 1-3-1 personally). With either Nick Leddy, Filip Hronek, possibly Moritz Seider or even a skilled forward quarterbacking the power play from the point, Rasmussen could be a vital key up front and be the beneficiary of slamming loose pucks home, or perhaps channeling his inner Tomas Holmstrom.
Does it mean he’ll be as effective as Holmstrom? It’s not fair to put that pressure on him. But if there’s ever a chance for Rasmussen to take that stride forward, it’s now following his three-year extension that shows the team’s faith in him–which in turn means he’ll be a mainstay in the lineup.
Is this confidence that he will breakthrough, or the hope that he’ll break through? Zadina famously slipped in the 2018 draft and the Red Wings scooped him up, hoping he would be the big time scorer he appeared to be in the world junior championships. In his third year, which also sees the expiration of his entry level deal, Zadina has a nice little incentive to light the score sheet up.
He seemed snakebitten at times last season, and if the puck bounces a couple other ways, his goal totals are certainly higher. Insulated with more talent for the upcoming season, Zadina seems the surest best to see higher totals across the board. Though he’s been molded into a more complete two-way forward, and showed some slick hands when it comes to dishing off the puck, Zadina’s best chance to make good on the filling the opposing nets begins this season.
I know there’s considerable debate on whether Seider will be on the opening night roster. There’s certainly something to be said about him being eased in, and taking things slower–something I can definitely get on board with. But with him playing a huge role in Rögle’s deep playoff run in the SHL playoffs–which is a professional league–I can’t help but think it’ll transfer over to the Red Wings and cement Seider as the bonafide defenseman the Red Wings have needed since Nick Lidstrom’s retirement. Is he Lidstrom? Again, that’s unbelievably unfair to put on the kid’s shoulders.
But I think after this season, few will be questioning if he’s going to be as good as projected. Instead, the conversation will begin on whether or not he’s the best player on the team. I know that’s bold, but he took the SHL by storm at 19. What’s to say he won’t be a breakthrough defenseman in the NHL, too?