Believe it or not, the Detroit Red Wings have already completed over half its schedule. They’re right at .500: 18-18-6. But with a schedule that is one of the toughest in the league and seeing some players that were to be counted on struggling, the second half of the season should be continue to see some more change before Steve Yzerman starts retooling some more in the offseason, where he is flush with cap space.
Here’s a look at what we got right.
Red Wings Players We Were Right On
Alex pegged Dylan Larkin as the MVP and he has absolutely looked the part. Larkin is at a point per game pace with 19 goals and 18 assists. Alex wrote this:
However, with the return of Tyler Bertuzzi from injury and the addition of Lucas Raymond (possibly Filip Zadina), Larkin should be able to find his groove as Detroit’s first line center. With a healthy top line and a player like Raymond slotting in, the stars are aligning for a major rebound year for Larkin.
I had Moritz Seider, and logging big minutes and being a major catalyst for success, it also could be argued that Seider is there. My thoughts from October:
On one hand, I think Larkin will see a rejuvenated season. On another, I think that Seider will bring a stability to the blue line not seen since Nick Lidstrom or Nik Kronwall. I’m going to go with Seider because I think his success ultimately shows that Yzerman knows what he’s doing.
Chris had Pius Suter and while he hasn’t produced like Larkin or Bertuzzi, he has been stellar as a second line center and been paramount in Detroit’s improvement. Alex pegged Suter as his breakout player so both were right in surmising that Suter’s impact would be felt.
My breakout player? Lucas Raymond. He’s cooled off as teams have adjusted but with more time in the NHL and offseason regiments with his teammates, Raymond is only going to get better.
Our wild predictions could go either way. Chris wrote that the Wings will make the playoffs–though they’ve tailed off a bit, didn’t seem out of the realm of possibility at the beginning of the month. I said they’ll draft in the top two this offseason after missing the playoffs. Chris did write, however, that in his more realistic predictions, Detroit misses the playoffs and moves up.
Alex wins though–he predicted the Wings would have a top two in Calder finalists and he’s looking pretty damn good there.
Red Wings Predictions Where We Went Wrong
Zadina, along with every other Red Wings fan hoping the 2018 sixth overall pick would finally have the goal scoring bonanza we banked on. Worse, this wasn’t even my wild prediction but my “sane” one. Ouch. From me in October:
Zadina finally justifies the Wings’ high pick in 2018. He’s right on the cusp of becoming one of the key players on the roster. Surrounded by more talent and being given more time on the top lines, this is the year Zadina takes the next step and becomes a premium player for Detroit.
I’ll show myself out. Thankfully, Chris thought Zadina would be the breakout player for Detroit. So as the old adage goes, misery loves company.
Alex had Veleno not making it up with the team until the trade deadline. Small potatoes compared to my blunder.
What about Trade Candidates?
We each took a crack at the trade deadline candidates and again, it was mixed. Chris had Nick Leddy, Alex had Troy Stecher, and I had Tyler Bertuzzi. Starting with mine, that doesn’t look as likely with Bertuzzi being a main part of the offensive drive. Though his stock is high right now, the Red Wings are building toward something and it doesn’t seem he’d be likely on the way out.
Zadina seems the likeliest candidate to go because right now–it’s just not working. From Blashill cutting his ice time to his very obvious frustration, it feels very much like what happened with Anthony Mantha–a slow burn before a trade sends him elsewhere.
What about the Rest of the Season?
It’s anyone’s guess outside of the obvious expectation that the team will be up and down. The real intrigue will be going toward the trade deadline, where Yzerman moved pieces leading up to it before the fireworks involving the Mantha deal.
The Red Wings legend has claimed that he’s not expecting to do much, but don’t let that fool you. The other intrigue will be Blashill. Some of his lineup decisions this season have driven Wings fans batty. From Danny DeKeyser being out beyond what he’s capable of doing to his deployment of players in overtime, it’s been questionable in situations. Also, briefly, I don’t fault for DeKeyser for his play. Injuries have just decimated his skating and ability to move out there. That absolutely falls on coaching and putting the right guys out in the right situations.
Yet in the same breath, it can’t be overlooked that the Red Wings have overshot expectations, sitting at .500 a week outside of February. We all expected improvement–but not exactly this much.
Ultimately, Yzerman will still be looking long term and packing his scouting department with as many picks as he can. With prospects heating up in Europe and some like Jonatan Berggren knocking on the door in Grand Rapids, Detroit has plenty in the pipeline. While the growth could take time, it doesn’t hurt to replace that soon-to-be-ready talent with some fresh prospects who can make an impact later.
But imagine if this is the year they get some lottery luck. Imagine the possibilities.