Red Wings’ Offseason Full of Roster Changes

The Hockey Writers

The start of the 2022-23 regular season is right around the corner, and the Detroit Red Wings are coming off of an eventful offseason. There were a lot of new names picked up via free agency and trades, but there were also a handful of names leaving the roster. To put it simply, things are looking a lot different for the Red Wings heading into the new campaign.

Andrew Copp New York Rangers
Andrew Copp formerly of the New York Rangers (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

To prepare for the start of preseason games, let’s take a quick look back at all the offseason action within the Red Wings organization.

Who’s Out

To prepare for the upcoming season, let’s take a look back at which players will no longer be with the Red Wings. 

Thomas Greiss

There was a lingering suspicion throughout the 2021-22 season that Thomas Greiss would not be returning to the Red Wings as his contract was expiring. His two-year, $7.2 million contract was indeed left to expire, and he found a new home with the St. Louis Blues during free agency. His new deal is marginally smaller with an average annual value (AAV) of $1.25 million compared to the $3.6 million he was making in Detroit, but that was warranted given his performance throughout the last season.

Greiss nearly had the worst season of his NHL career that has spanned over 15 years and 13 seasons. He had the worst save percentage (SV%) since his rookie season in 2007-08, with a .891 SV% through 31 games. On top of that, his goals-against average (GAA) was the second worst of his career at 3.66. Ultimately, it was in the best interest of the Red Wings to let him go and find a younger and more skilled goaltender to fill his place.

Marc Staal

Marc Staal, who recently celebrated 1,000 career games played, signed a contract with the Florida Panthers as his contract extension was up in Detroit. It was a one-year contract worth $750,000 compared to the $2 million he was making last season. He gets a chance to play for a team that had a brief playoff run and he will also be alongside one of his brothers, Eric Staal.

“I get to join a really talented team that has playoff and Stanley Cup ambitions. To get back into that mix is very exciting for me.”

-Marc Staal

Staal was a big veteran presence in the Red Wings locker room and served as a mentor to the younger defensemen on the team, such as Moritz Seider. He had three goals and 13 assists through 71 games last season, which was his best season since 2017-18. His tinted visor and rockstar demeanor will be missed in Detroit, but the seasoned veteran is skating into the next chapter of his career.

Calvin Pickard

Although he never saw much ice time with the Red Wings, Calvin Pickard was a valuable asset to have in the system and with the Grand Rapids Griffins. He played in three NHL games in 2021-22 and had a .875 SV% and a 4.30 GAA. Meanwhile, his season with the Griffins was a bit more successful as he had a .918 SV%, 2.58 GAA, and a 21-16-6 record.

Calvin Pickard Detroit Red Wings
Calvin Pickard, Detroit Red Wings (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Pickard will be joining the Edmonton Oilers franchise to strengthen their goaltending depth on a two-year, two-way, $762,500 AAV contract. He will have a similar role to what he had with the Red Wings as a third-string goaltender to be called up if there is an injury or illness, as Jack Campbell, another new acquisition, is taking the starting spot in front of Stuart Skinner. Losing Pickard from the depth chart isn’t a tremendous loss since there are so many other goaltenders, but it will be interesting to see who is slotted in as the third string this season.

Sam Gagner

After spending the last three seasons in Detroit, Sam Gagner signed a one-year, $750,000 contract with the Winnipeg Jets in early September. Like Staal, he was a veteran presence in the room and was known by his teammates as the “team dad.” He had his best season in quite a while in 2021-22, with 13 goals and 18 assists through 81 games. 

Gagner was moved between every offensive line throughout the 2021-22 season but spent the majority of his time on the third line. He was rarely played as a center and was mostly deployed as a right wing – a position that is now likely to be filled by Filip Zadina. His stint on the team was greatly appreciated as he helped shape the team’s atmosphere into what it is today, but it was time to move on as he enters his 16th season in the NHL.

Danny DeKeyser

It’s hard to see a good hometown guy like Danny DeKeyser leave, but after a lackluster season or two, it may be for the best. He had a lengthy career as a Red Wing that started in 2012 and was an alternate captain for the 2021-22 season. His career was largely hindered by injuries but he still brought a lot of valuable things to the organization. 

DeKeyser recently signed a professional tryout with the Vancouver Canucks after going unsigned as a free agent over the summer. He was given a six-year, $30 million extension by former general manager (GM) Ken Holland in 2016 with a no-trade clause for the last five years. However, a back injury in 2019 started his slow decline as the defensemen around him sped up, placing him in a position where he was waived in two consecutive seasons. His presence on the team will certainly be missed as he moves on to the next chapter of his career in Vancouver.

Who’s In

It’s safe to say that the Red Wings got more than they lost during the offseason. GM Steve Yzerman worked his magic just like he was expected to but came out with some names that might not have been easily predicted. 

Andrew Copp

What’s better than having one hometown kid on a roster? Having two! Andrew Copp is an Ann Arbor native and a former Michigan Wolverine similar to Dylan Larkin. He was the biggest acquisition for the Red Wings over the summer as he is filling the need for a second-line center. He’s quick on his feet and plays a strong, yet smart two-way game, making him a valuable addition down the middle for Detroit. Not only can he be deployed as a skilled center, but he can also be a successful winger or even a member of a more physical checking line.

“He’s 28, he’s a very good athlete, he’s very versatile, he’s playing center, he’s playing wing, he can play on the power play, he plays on the penalty kill, he’s a good face-off man.”

– Steve Yzerman (from “Andrew Copp comes home to fill many roles for Red Wings,” MLive, 7/15/22)

Copp’s five-year contract with an AAV of $5.625 million was great value for a well-rounded player with recent playoff experience. On top of that, he is coming off of his best NHL season thus far, with 21 goals and 32 assists through 72 games between the Winnipeg Jets and New York Rangers. Copp filling the second-line center role immediately strengthens the Red Wings’ offense and gives the coaches a little more to work with in terms of line combinations. The penalty kill is one of his bigger strengths in addition to the power play, and the Red Wings need these areas to be stronger, so Copp will be great for filling this need.

Ville Husso

Personally, this is the addition that I am the most excited about. Being able to fill out the goaltending tandem with a player such as Ville Husso was a huge win for the Red Wings during the offseason. He was acquired from the St. Louis Blues on July 8 for a third-round pick in the 2022 NHL Draft and was shortly thereafter signed to a three-year, $14.25 million contract ($4.75 million AAV). Like Alex Nedeljkovic, the 2021-22 season was the most action he’s faced at the NHL level, but he came out of it with a 25-7-6 record and a .919 SV%.

Related: Red Wings’ Nedeljkovic, Husso Could be a Top-Tier Goalie Tandem

He’s another new Red Wing who had playing time in the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Although his playoff performance left something to be desired, his regular season play was quite impressive. He outshone Jordan Binnington and got the starting nod for a stretch of the season, helping him grow his confidence as an NHL-caliber goaltender. The tandem of Husso and Nedeljkovic is going to be something special. It is assumed that it will be a 1A/1B situation and that they will be carrying near equal loads as the season unfolds.

Ben Chiarot

There were some mixed reactions surrounding the Ben Chiarot signing due to either the amount or term, but he is definitely not a negative addition to the blue line. He is filling the role of a strong veteran defenseman that was formerly held by Marc Staal and will be able to serve as a mentor to his younger teammates. Although he might not be a standout point producer, he’s a huge presence and force on the ice who can shut down the opponent consistently.

Standing at 6-foot-3 and 219 pounds, he’s a big guy on the ice and uses it to his advantage in the defensive zone. He is known for being able to lay heavy hits on his opponent and bringing a physically assertive presence to the ice. During the first day of training camp, he was skating on a line with Seider. This being said, he doesn’t have the makings of a top-pair defenseman, so there is a chance he will end up in a lower pairing once the season is underway.

David Perron

The St. Louis to Detroit pipeline continues with the Red Wings signing David Perron to a two-year, $4.75 million contract. Odds are he will be on the second offensive line playing alongside Copp and possibly Jakub Vrana. Like Chiarot, Perron is another veteran player, but he has a little more upside. He is heading into his 16th NHL season and is still bringing consistent energy in the offensive zone, which will fill a need for the Red Wings; a veteran forward who can put up points. Fun fact: he had two hat tricks in the 2021-22 NHL season – one against the Los Angeles Kings and the other against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

During the 2021-22 season, Perron had 27 goals and 30 assists for a total of 57 points through 67 games. On top of that, he was tied for third in goals on the Blues alongside Jordan Kyrou and led the team in power-play goals with 11. His production was not limited to the regular season as the Blues appeared in the Stanley Cup Playoffs where he had 13 points through 12 games with nine of those being goals. Adding a consistent point producer like him is exactly what this team needed, and Yzerman got his guy for great value.

Other additions include defensemen Olli Määttä and Mark Pysyk, and left wing Dominik Kubalik. Määttä signed a one-year, $2.25 million contract after finishing up his season and playoff run with the Kings. He will likely be slotted into the second defensive pairing alongside Filip Hronek to start the season. Pysyk is coming to Detroit from the Buffalo Sabres on a one-year, $850,000 contract. It will be a while until we know where he will end up in the lines due to injury, but he will likely be circulating around the third pairing. Kubalik is going into his fourth NHL season and is probably going to be on the third line for the Red Wings. He was one of four acquisitions on the first day of free agency and signed a two-year, $5 million AAV contract.

Injuries and Absences

In addition to all the aforementioned changes, there are other players that will be away from the team for a while. Right before the start of training camp, it was announced by Yzerman that Copp would be out until after the first week of the regular season. He underwent abdominal surgery during the offseason and is missing training camp and the preseason to fully recover.

Jake Walman underwent shoulder surgery and will be out until mid-November. Recently, he re-signed with the Red Wings for one year at $1.05 million. He had suffered a minor upper-body injury in April, and it is unclear if that was the same injury warranting this surgery.

Robby Fabbri was out for a majority of last season after suffering the third ACL tear of his NHL career. He had 30 points through 56 games in 2021-22 and seemed to be on track for a career-high season before his injury. He is expected to be out until after the new year as he is still recovering.

Robby Fabbri Detroit Red Wings
Robby Fabbri, Detroit Red Wings (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Mark Pysyk will also be out until after the new year after undergoing surgery to repair a torn Achilles tendon. The surgery took place back in July, and the recovery time is between four and six months, putting him back in action anywhere between November and January. 

To round out the list, Chase Pearson will be out indefinitely due to personal reasons. He played his first NHL game last season with the Red Wings but primarily played with the Grand Rapids Griffins of the American Hockey League (AHL). There was no further information on his circumstances, but he is not in attendance at Red Wings training camp this week.

Overall, there are a lot of changes to the Red Wings roster that are sure to make for a rather interesting season. On top of all of the roster changes, there are a handful of new faces behind the bench, including a new head coach, associate coach, assistant coach, and goaltending coach. These changes that were made during the offseason are all for the greater good and will be putting this Red Wings team in a better position for success. After training camp concludes, there will start to be more changes to the roster involving prospects that may come up, such as Simon Edvinsson. This being said, it will be interesting to see how things start to unfold in the NHL preseason beginning September 27. Hockey is finally back, and the Red Wings are looking promising this season!

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