Red Wings: Top Three Breakout Candidates for 2021-22

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The Detroit Red Wings need some of their younger players to step up and become important pieces of the re-build.  Slowly, prospects will weave their way into the lineup, but it’s the young players that have played portions of the last few seasons that really need to make the jump in order for the Red Wings to improve in the standings.

Here is a look into the three players who could help accelerate the re-build with impressive seasons this year.

No young player on the Red Wings roster needs a big year more than Filip Zadina.  At the 2018 draft, Zadina was ranked in the top three or four in all prospect rankings.  When he slipped to 6th, Zadina boldly stated that he would make teams pay for not drafting him higher.  In three partial seasons in the NHL, Zadina has played 86 games and scored a paltry 15 goals and 37 points.

Now is the time for Zadina to make teams pay for not drafting him.  He is now going into his fourth NHL season and he needs to have a big year.  Zadina is in the final year of his entry-level contract and a big year offensively would guarantee a hefty raise for his next contract.

Head Coach Jeff Blashill indicated that Michael Rasmussen was the most improved player on the Red Wings last year.  That improvement needs to continue so that the Red Wings can rely on Rasmussen more on the offensive side of the puck.

When Rasmussen was drafted by Detroit as the 9th overall pick in the 2017 draft, he was viewed as a high scoring power forward who could play the net-front on the power play.  In three seasons playing for Tri-City (WHL), Rasmussen scored 81 goals and 157 points in 160 regular season games.

In 102 NHL regular season games, Rasmussen has only scored 11 goals and 30 points.  He has scored six of his goals on the power play.  More is expected of Rasmussen this season.  If he improves offensively, Rasmussen could significantly improve the depth at center and speed up the re-build Detroit so desperately needs.

Givani Smith is no longer waiver exempt, so the 23 year old needs to make the most of the opportunity he will be given to play an important role in Detroit’s re-build.  When Detroit declined to sign Evgeny Svechnikov and protected Givani Smith in the Expansion Draft, it signaled the break that the young forward needed.

Smith brings a unique skillset that has recently been missing from the Detroit lineup.  He can score, he’s a ferocious checker, and he can fight.  In 129 games played for Grand Rapids (AHL), Smith has scored 47 points and picked up 217 penalty minutes.  In 37 NHL games, Smith has three goals and seven points.

Originally a 2nd round Detroit pick in the 2016 draft, Smith should play in the bottom six and get some power play time.  Now that Smith will be given every opportunity to play a full-time role in Detroit, he needs to capitalize in all the facets of his game that make him effective.

A big year from Smith will help guide Detroit towards an improvement in the standings.  With Smith in the lineup, the Red Wings will be harder to play against which should translate into more wins in the upcoming season.

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