After 21 games, let’s check in on the preseason predictions that I made for the Red Wings.
The Grand Rapids Griffins will be a Calder Cup Contender.
This was not a great prediction. The AHL is a competitive league. The best teams are led by experienced players who have played together with a few extremely talented young prospects sprinkled in.
Thinking that the young and untested Grand Rapids Griffins would dominate this strong league was overly optimistic. They are likely to get stronger as the season progresses and young players adapt to the league. An 8-8-1 record is solid but hardly dominant.
Having Elmer Soderblom return from injury to the Griffins would be a good approach to bring him up to game speed, give a boost to the Griffins, and iron out some rough spots that appeared in his game. Jonatan Berggren should not be returning to Grand Rapids anytime soon.
Filip Zadina and Joe Veleno Have Breakout Seasons
This prediction also looks to be wrong. Very wrong. Before his injury, Zadina showed no signs of being more productive than he was last year. He works so hard on every shift that is hard not to wish for his success.
There is simply no sign of him breaking through, as he had zero points in nine games. This was an especially stark result after seeing Jonatan Berggren score 5 points in 7 games.
Joe Veleno does not look like he will break out offensively, either. The Red Wings need his speed and intelligence. But Joe Veleno appears to be a very good fourth-line center. That is a significant contribution, but an offensive breakout does not seem likely.
The New Old Guys Will Flourish
This prediction is likely to be proved correct. Dominik Kubalik has been a brilliant addition to the offense. David Perron makes the powerplay work. Maatta has allowed Hronek to flourish by being responsible defensively and sprinkling in some surprising offense.
Husso has been the team’s MVP during the first 25% of the season. Chiarot is as tough and as mean as expected. He has not meshed perfectly with Seider yet, but he makes the Red Wings harder to play against. The incoming group of free agent and trade pickups has made a difference while the young players develop.
The Red Wings Will Improve a lot but Miss the Playoffs.
This is a good team. The improvement is there. They have played well against a weak schedule to this point. I am not convinced that this is a playoff team yet. I want this prediction to be wrong, but it is still likely to be proven correct.
Lalonde is a Jack Adams Candidate
The system is effective. The players have bought in. Wins are coming. My favorite part of this year’s team is that there are rarely uncovered players in front of the Red Wings’ goal. When teams score on the Red Wings, they have earned it. Lindy Ruff is the leader for this award right now, but there is no reason that Lalonde cannot be a finalist.
Alex Nedeljkovic Gets Traded
Alex Nedeljkovic has not played well. The contrast is that Husso has been brilliant. Nedeljkovic’s trade value has never been lower, but at this pace, he is not likely to be part of the Red Wings’ future.
More to Come
With 75% of the season remaining, a lot is going to change. The team is moving in a good direction, the prospects are improving well, and the future looks bright. Far brighter than my preseason predictions.