After offseason flurry, here is what the Red Wings’ lineup could look like

Detroit News

Detroit — Maybe he’s on his patio, or on a recliner jotting notes, or possibly already in his office.

Somewhere you have to believe coach Derek Lalonde already is scribbling line combinations and defensive pairings and wondering how to make the Red Wings’ lineup most effective.

And doing so, Lalonde is likely realizing he has more options at his disposal than at any point last season.

General manager Steve Yzerman added the goal-scorer (Alex DeBrincat) the Wings were lacking, along with versatile forwards J.T. Compher and Daniel Sprong, big forwards Christian Fischer and Klim Kostin, and right-side defensemen Justin Holl and Shayne Gostisbehere, and goaltenders James Reimer and Alex Lyon.

A quarter of the roster will be turned over from last season’s opening night. With the changes, Lalonde has more flexibility, depth, and potential for offense, on paper.

So, how does the Wings’ opening night lineup look?

Let’s put one set of names together and see how close it’ll look to what Lalonde has Oct. 12 in New Jersey (barring injuries, of course).


(Left wing, center, right wing)

David Perron-Dylan Larkin-DeBrincat

Instantly there will be many Wings fans wanting to put Lucas Raymond alongside Larkin and DeBrincat, but that might not be the best option.

It would offensively, possibly, put the Wings’ three most dangerous offensive players together. And they will likely see time together at some point.

But defensively it could be an issue, not to mention, putting Raymond elsewhere in the lineup will provide the Wings with more scoring depth, which consistently hasn’t been the case in recent seasons.

Eyes will be on Larkin and DeBrincat to see how they’ll mesh. You’d think DeBrincat will have a decent chance returning to his 40-goal pace with Larkin as his playmaker. Perron provides size, an agitating presence, an ability to get to the net, and Perron played well with Larkin last season.

This would be a darn good first line by any standard.

Michael Rasmussen-Andrew Copp-Raymond

This trio makes up the second line given, largely, by how well Rasmussen and Copp looked together late last season until Rasmussen suffered a season-ending knee injury.

If those two can regain their chemistry, and now adding an offensive force like Raymond, the Wings might have a legitimate second scoring line. Copp and Rasmussen also are likely, with their size, to provide Raymond with some open space on the ice.

But you already can see the plethora of options Lalonde will have. Lalonde easily could put Compher here instead of Rasmussen, maybe a Robby Fabbri, several other different looks. All the while creating options in the rest of the forward lines.

Klim Kostin-Compher-Jonatan Berggren

For now, let’s put this threesome together. And again, this could be a sneaky effective offensive line. Kostin had 11 goals in 57 games last season with Edmonton, Compher had a career-high 52 points and Berggren scored 15 goals as a rookie.

That’s one way to do it. But there’s also another viable option here with the ability to put together a big, physical match-up line with Kostin and Fischer possibly on the same line tormenting opponents.

Yzerman alluded to that possibility after acquiring the two rugged wingers.

“Most coaches, but Derek in particular, I won’t speak for him, but I watched how he used his players this year, at times he liked to have like a big matchup line, a defensive line to go against whoever it may be on another team,” Yzerman said. “Christian helps that on the right side. Klim is an evolving player, a highly touted junior player, offensive guy, he’s evolving. He’s big and strong but he can shoot the puck in the net (and) his role is growing.

“They make us a bigger team. Each player has more room to grow as hockey players but they make us a little bit bigger for sure.”

You can certainly see Lalonde go that way, too, and it make sense.

Robby Fabbri-Joe Veleno-Daniel Sprong

But we’ll go with our projection, obviously. And, to man the fourth line, we have some grit with Veleno centering Fabbri and Sprong, but also three players who have the ability to provide offense and could create matchup problems for opponents.

Sprong was a 20-goal scorer for Seattle last season mainly playing on the fourth line (and power play). Fabbri has to prove he’s overcome knee injuries from the last two seasons, and Veleno has to take a step forward in his career. Fabbri and Veleno could form some chemistry, and Sprong is familiar with both players.

More: Red Wings hope to spring a great value signing with Daniel Sprong

▶ Extra: Fischer: It just shows you the depth of this lineup when you have Fischer as the 13th forward. That’s not likely to be the case often. But in this particular lineup, it would appear either Fischer or Kostin or Sprong, possibly, sits.

The Wings likely will carry a 14th forward. Matt Luff, who looked good in spot action last season, might be a good fit in the role.



Jake Walman-Moritz Seider

This one, you can write in pen. No need to erase or move around or tinker.

Once Walman was paired with Seider, both defensemen saw their seasons take off. Walman earned a three-year contract extension out of it, and Seider played some of the best hockey of his two-year NHL career, dominating at both ends of the rink.

The Wings are hoping the duo can expand even more this season.

Olli Maatta-Gostisbehere

Now, Gostisbehere is a lefthanded-shooter but he’s comfortable and played the right side extensively. Gostisbehere is widely considered an offensive defenseman, and he slots in well with Maatta, a pure defensive defenseman, and essentially replaces Filip Hronek.

Ben Chiarot-Justin Holl

It’ll be interesting to watch Wings fans react to this possible defensive pairing. Chiarot struggled at times defensively in his first season with the Wings, while Holl was a favorite target of frustrated Toronto Maple Leafs fans the past couple of seasons for defensive hiccups.

Still, both have size, can provide physicality, and can easily be seen as a second pairing.

▶ Extra: Gustav Lindstrom: Lindstrom has yet to carve out a regular spot in the lineup and doesn’t appear to see consistent playing time in this lineup, either.


Ville Husso, Reimer: Husso is the clear No. 1, but he has plenty to prove after a late-season slide. The large workload appeared to get to Husso, along with a lower-body injury, that curtailed his effectiveness. For much of the season, Husso was arguably the Wings’ most valuable player, and he’ll have to return to that form.

Reimer didn’t have a great season in San Jose, but might be best suited as the veteran complement to Husso. If Reimer can effectively slide in and play around 30 games, it would seem to be ideal.

Lyon was effective for Florida late last season, even starting the first three playoffs games in Round 1 against Boston, but appears slotted right now to work with Sebastian Cossa in Grand Rapids.

Twitter: @tkulfan

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