5 Bold Predictions for Red Wings’ 2022 Offseason

The Hockey Writers

Now that the Stanley Cup has been awarded to the Colorado Avalanche (congratulations to Darren Helm, and Darren Helm only), the NHL offseason has officially begun. With the 2022 NHL Draft just around the corner, followed quickly by Free Agency, I thought I would make a few predictions as to how the Detroit Red Wings approach this offseason.

As a team who hopes to start digging their way out of their rebuild, the Red Wings have a lot of work to do this summer. There are a lot of question marks regarding Detroit’s plans for their future and this offseason will hopefully answer quite a few, giving us some insight into where this team sees themselves going forward. I’m going to make predictions about each of the major portions of the offseason and will end each section with a bonus way-too-bold prediction just for fun. 

1. The Red Wings Draft Joakim Kemell 8th overall 

Once viewed as the consensus second-best prospect in the 2022 Draft class, Joakim Kemell has slid down many draft boards due to his lack of late-season production in the Finnish Liiga. It also hasn’t helped his case that he measured in at 5-foot-9 at the NHL Scouting Combine rather than 5-foot-11 that had been reported previously. There is no doubt that he is still an excellent prospect who has a real chance to be the best goalscorer to come from the 2022 Draft and he would have to drop a bit on draft day for the Red Wings to even get the chance to draft him. 

Kemell impressed everyone early on this season in Liiga before cooling off substantially for the remainder of the season. However, he managed to revive some of the excitement around him as a prospect at the U18 World Junior Championships where he was great for Team Finland, especially in their quarterfinal match against Team Canada where he scored a hat trick to win the game in overtime.

Joakim Kemell JYP
Joakim Kemell, JYP (Photo: Jiri Halttunen)

The meteoric rise of USNTDP forward Cutter Gauthier as a top-10 prospect combined with some growing questions around Kemell’s size could be just the situation Detroit needs to draft the dynamic Finnish winger. I predict that Gauthier will be drafted either fifth or sixth overall and that the Ottawa Senators will go off the board just a little and select either Marco Kasper or Matthew Savoie seventh overall, opening the door for Detroit to get their guy at eight.

Related: 2022 NHL Draft Guide

Bonus way-too-bold prediction: The Red Wings select center David Goyette from the Sudbury Wolves in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) with one of their second-round picks. Goyette has great puck skills and speed and should be a force in transition at the NHL level someday.

2. Red Wings Hire Derek Lalonde as their Head Coach 

If the Red Wings were going to hire a coach with NHL head coaching experience and a well-established reputation (such as John Tortorella, Barry Trotz or Peter DeBoer), they would have done so already. I expect that the reason for the radio silence on the head coaching front in Detroit was that they were waiting for the Tampa Bay Lightning’s season to finish so that they could offer the job to Derek Lalonde. Since being named as an assistant coach with the Lightning just under four years ago, Lalonde has proven that he can coach a team to wild success at the highest level of hockey. 

Throughout his career, Lalonde has coached in the NCAA, USHL, ECHL, AHL and now the NHL. He has shown the ability to get the most out of his players at any level, having been named the Coach of the Year in the USHL following the 2011-12 season as well as in the ECHL following the 2014-15 season. 

Jon Cooper brought @TBLightning staff to press conference like he did previous two Cup wins. This could be last time group is together. Expect Derek Lalonde and Jeff Halpern to get looks from Red Wings and perhaps Bruins for head coaching jobs. https://t.co/H71hemu87W

He has succeeded at every major level of hockey in North America and has elevated his position every few years. Since he cracked the NHL as an assistant coach in 2018, Lalonde has been a part of three consecutive runs to the Stanley Cup Final, with two Stanley Cup victories under his belt. Over the last season or two, it has seemed like it would only be a matter of time before he was offered a head coaching position in the NHL. Enter the Detroit Red Wings.

Related: Naming the Red Wings’ Next Head Coach

Lalonde was hired in Tampa Bay by then-general manager (GM) and Vice-President Steve Yzerman who saw the potential that Lalonde had as the head coach of the AHL’s Iowa Wild. Considering the pre-existing relationship between Lalonde and Yzerman, the Red Wings are certainly the favourite to land Lalonde as their head coach, especially considering how many teams have already filled their head coach vacancies. This one seems like a home run, although Jeff Halpern, one of Tampa Bay’s other assistant coaches could very well be in the mix as well. 

Bonus way-too-bold prediction: Lalonde is signed to a five-year contract and earns at least one vote for the Jack Adams Award following the 2022-23 season, before winning it at some point during his five-year deal. 

3. Red Wings sign Alex Edler in Free Agency

Alex Edler is a 16-year NHL veteran who has scored 428 points in 966 career games, most of which he played for the Vancouver Canucks. As a left-handed defenceman, Edler would fill a positional need for the Red Wings, while also providing reliable leadership on and off the ice, which he learned over his many years of playing with the Sedin twins. For much of his career, Edler has been a stout defender with decent offensive production, especially when given power-play ice time. He could reliably play on the first penalty kill alongside Moritz Seider and could slot in on the second power play too until his fellow Swede Simon Edvinsson is ready to take those reigns. 

Alex Edler Los Angeles Kings Connor McDavid Edmonton Oilers
Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers is watched by Alexander Edler of the Los Angeles Kings (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

Edler’s value and reputation decreased a fair bit following a rough 2020-21 season where he only managed to score eight points in 52 games. However, in the three seasons prior to that, he had scored at a 45-point pace over an 82-game season. He was significantly undervalued last offseason after enduring what was likely the strangest season in NHL history, and the Los Angeles Kings gladly took him on for a one-year contract worth $3.5 Million. Though he missed exactly half of the season due to injury, Edler still managed 19 points in 41 games, a 38-point pace over a full season.

If the Red Wings can sell their vision for the team’s short-term future to Edler well enough as well as the possibility of playing alongside an excellent young defenseman like Seider, I believe Edler will gladly join the Red Wings when free agency hits later this offseason.

Bonus way-too-bold prediction: Signing a 36-year-old defenseman usually means that offering a longer-term can help decrease the annual value. I predict that the Red Wings sign Edler to a 2-year deal worth $3M/Year.

4. Red Wings Trade for Nicolas Roy (Vegas Golden Knights) 

When good teams hit a cap crunch, there are always casualties, good players who the team would love to keep around, but that they just can’t afford to. The Vegas Golden Knights have had to move on from a handful of the original golden misfits because of this exact situation. One player who may have priced himself out of Vegas following an excellent breakout season in 2021-22 is center, Nicolas Roy.

As a direct result of their most bold moves, the Golden Knights will likely need to trade away Roy who is a restricted free agent (RFA) this offseason, meaning that Vegas have the exclusive right to negotiate a new contract with him. Vegas currently has Jack Eichel, William Karlsson and Chandler Stephenson at the center position, meaning that even if they could afford to keep Roy, one of their other centermen would become obsolete in the process.

Nicolas Roy Vegas Golden Knights
Nicolas Roy, Vegas Golden Knights (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Roy is in line for a substantial raise following his two-year deal worth 750k per year, and few teams have a need for center depth as well as the cap space necessary to easily accommodate his new deal. He will likely sign another short contract, two or three-years max, with a moderately increased cap hit. 

Red Wings’ need for a top-six centerman has dominated draft talks this year, but they may be able to find it in this trade which will likely not cost them all that much. Roy is a 6-foot-4 center with a right-handed shot. After a disappointing first few stints in the NHL, Roy was excellent this season with 39 points in 78 games, 33 of which came at five-on-five. If he can build on last season and show some offensive potential on the second power-play unit, then Yzerman may just pull off another steal.

Bonus way-too-bold prediction: The trade for Roy will be centered around Red Wings prospect Jared McIsaac since Vegas needs players who could crack the NHL soon on cheap contracts, especially if they explore trading one of Brayden McNabb or Alec Martinez to clear cap space. I am also going to predict that Roy’s new contract in Detroit will be a 2-year deal worth $3.5M per year.

5. Swedish Trio Makes Opening Night Lineup

Simon Edvinsson, Jonatan Berggren, and Elmer Söderblom are three of the Red Wings’ best prospects and are each under contract with the Red Wings. Jonatan Berggren seems like a lock to make the NHL club on opening night following an excellent rookie season with the team’s AHL affiliate the Grand Rapids Griffins. He excelled in his first year of hockey in North America and projects as a meaningful contributor on the wing for the Wings as soon as the season begins.

Edvinsson is a bit less certain but will have a very good shot at making the NHL right out of training camp. His combination of size and skill will make him a very good NHL defenceman someday soon, but I’d bet on that happening sooner than later. He won’t have a ton of competition at the left-side defense (aside from maybe Alex Edler), so I believe he’ll make it come opening night.

Jonatan Berggren Grand Rapids Griffins
Jonatan Berggren, Grand Rapids Griffins (Jenae Anderson / The Hockey Writers)

The biggest wild card here is Söderblom who is likely to follow the path set out by Berggren of trying his hand in the AHL following a great Swedish Hockey League (SHL) season as a chance to adjust to the North American game before jumping into the NHL. However, Lucas Raymond also came from the SHL and jumped right into his role as one of the team’s most important offensive contributors so both options will be on the table.

I believe that Söderblom will surprise many people when he comes to training camp later in the summer and that he will win over the Red Wings’ newest head coach (in this case that would be Lalonde), earning himself a spot in the opening night lineup. There are not many 6-foot-8 forwards who are good enough to earn NHL contracts and even fewer who can handle the puck like Söderblom can. I want to see him towering over his NHL competition when the season begins in October.

Bonus way-too-bold prediction: Other Red Wings prospects who I think will play at least one NHL game this season include Carter Mazur, Shai Buium and Albert Johansson.

Bold is Better Than Bland

There are so many different directions that the Red Wings could go this offseason and they have many important decisions to make. Are they going to begin pushing heavily for the playoffs? Are they going to maintain their current level of competitiveness while ushering in more prospects and players added through trades and free agency? Who knows! Hopefully, we’ll have a clearer picture of their goals for this season when the offseason wraps up in the Fall.

Please feel free to drop some bold offseason predictions of your own in the comments. Which of my predictions do you think are most likely to happen? Which are the least likely to happen? Do you think any of my extra-bold predictions could come true? Sound off in the comment section below!

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