The Detroit Red Wings are slated to make the ninth overall selection in the 2023 NHL Entry Draft in Nashville. While it’s always exciting to receive a top-10 draft selection, being in a playoff race would be even more exciting.
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To contend for a wild card playoff spot the Red Wings must get improvements from all the players who did not meet expectations last season. Here are four Red Wings who need to step up in 2023-24.
Improvement To Make: Limit high-danger chances against.
With only 19 points in 76 games, it’s safe to say that Ben Chiarot is not an offensive defenceman. What he didn’t bring in points, he brought in grit and physicality. Despite the intangibles that he brings, the team is outshot, out-chanced, and out-scored when he is playing. The Red Wings scored 46 even-strength goals and had 78 scored against them while Chiarot was on the ice.
The only defenceman that Chiarot skated with at even strength who helped elevate his play was Jake Walman. They only played 46 minutes together but they limited the opponents to five high-danger chances and created 13 of their own. Perhaps we are due for another defence pairing shake-up next season with Chiarot and Walman ending up together for a long stretch.
Improvement To Make: Consistency.
The Red Wings had three players collect 20 goals or more: Dylan Larkin, David Perron, and Dominik Kubalik. Kubalik started the season on pace to beat his rookie season. With 31 points (14 of those with the man advantage) in his first 41 games, he was looking like the kind of producer that the Red Wings needed to make the playoffs.
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Kubalik fired the puck a good amount with 104 shots in the first half of the season. In the second half, he went ice cold: 14 points, 70 shots and three power play points. Players often go on hot and cold streaks, but the Red Wings will need more of first-half Kubalik than second-half to have a chance of sneaking into the playoffs.
Improvment To Make: More shots on the power play.
Lucas Raymond finished the 2022-23 season with 45 points, a 12-point decline from 2021-22. It wasn’t a wasted year by any stretch as his defensive play improved. Going into next season he could become a bigger threat on the power play. Raymond ranked fifth on the Red Wings in power play shots with 33. Perron and Larkin had 72 and 71 power play shots respectively, and Raymond will need to reach this volume of shooting on the power play to become a bigger offensive threat.
Improvement To Make: Finish acclimating to Red Wings systems.
The goaltending situation needs an upgrade, which will likely come in the form of a different goalie to shoulder the burden with Ville Husso. Looking at his numbers for the year, a few stats stand out negatively. He had 17 really bad starts (RBS), an even strength save percentage (EVSV%) of .903, and a save percentage (SV%) of .852 for mid-range shots. Mid-range shots in this context are shots from 15-30 feet away from the net. In his first year with the St. Louis Blues during the 2020-21 season, he had a .893 SV%, 3.21 goals against average (GAA), .901 EVSV%, and a mid-range SV% of .833 over 17 games.
Last year (the 2021-22 season) Husso bounced back in a big way; a 2.56 GAA, .919 SV%, 60% quality start percentage (QS%), and a .921 EVSV% were all positive statistics that impressed the Red Wings enough to trade for and subsequently sign him. A full season with the team should be enough time for him to finish acclimating and be more like the goalie they traded for last offseason.
With the 2023-24 season on the horizon, the Red Wings could make big strides in the standings if they can get more out of Chiarot, Kubalik, Raymond, and Husso. It will take a full effort up and down the lineup to become a playoff team.