Red Wings Have All the Tools to Make the 2023-24 Playoffs

The Hockey Writers

The Detroit Red Wings have not made the playoffs since 2016 after having a streak of 25 straight years of doing so (1990-91 to 2015-16). But after an offseason full of moves by general manager Steve Yzerman, they are on the cusp of finally breaking their drought. There are a few key reasons why this is possible for the 2023-24 season.

Red Wings’ Improvement on Offense

The biggest additions to the Red Wings roster came in the form of three forward free agents (Daniel Sprong, JT Compher and Christian Fischer), and adding another via trade (Alex DeBrincat). These additions add different levels of impact to the lineup that should bring more help in the offensive zone. In Sprong and Compher, Detroit adds two players who have the capability of putting the puck in the back of the net, along with being quality playmakers. Sprong is expected to give the third line a boost offensively, while Compher should fill in the center role on the second line and is also a playmaking forward.

Daniel Sprong Seattle Kraken
Daniel Sprong with the Seattle Kraken (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

The one addition that is going to most likely improve the offense the most is DeBrincat. In acquiring him, the team is getting a top-tier goal scorer with the potential to score 40 goals this season. Along with this comes the fact that he will be able to elevate the play of his linemates, especially captain Dylan Larkin. If DeBrincat and Larkin are able to feed off of each other, they could both be looking at career years points-wise.

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Lastly, these additions on the offensive side of the ice give the Red Wings’ power play a boost. Between the big three forward acquisitions (DeBrincat, Compher and Sprong), they combined for a total of 58 power-play points last season. Each of these players can be relied on to fill a role on either power play unit for Detroit and make an impact and help improve it from last season when they ranked 17th in the league at 21.1 percent.

Bounce Back Season for Husso

When Yzerman acquired goalie Ville Husso from the St. Louis Blues last July, the hope was for him and Alex Nedeljkovic to be a top duo in net for the Red Wings. Things did not go as planned, with Nedeljkovic ending up in Grand Rapids for most of the season after struggling in the NHL at the beginning of the season. Meanwhile, Husso’s play was up and down throughout the season, finishing 26-22-7 with a 3.11 goals-against average (GAA) and a .896 save percentage (SV%).

Coming into the 2023-24 season, with the additions the team has made in front of Husso, both on the offensive side and defensive side, he should be able to perform at a higher level and return his numbers to the 2021-22 stats he put up with St. Louis when he went 25-7-6 with a 2.56 GAA and a .919 SV%.

Ville Husso Detroit Red Wings
Ville Husso, Detroit Red Wings (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

A season after allowing 3.35 goals per game as a team, the added players outside of the net should help Husso in the sense that he will not see as many shots as he did last season. He will be able to play with more confidence knowing the team in front of him has the potential to be immensely better than last season.

Another Season of Lalonde Implementing Systems

Last season, the Red Wings hired head coach Derek Lalonde from the Tampa Bay Lightning. He has a track record of winning and being around a winning culture and started to instill those habits that winning teams have. There were many times in the 2021-22 season when they would fall behind in games and just “give up”. But in 2022-23, the team fought and clawed their way back into games when they fell behind. This is one of those habits that Lalonde has been trying to instill in his team.

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Along with the habits of a winning team comes adding a coaching staff that will complement each other. Last season, the team brought in former Colorado Avalanche player Alex Tanguay to take over the power play coaching duties. His impact was felt on the power play in the 2022-23 season, as they improved from 26th in the league in 2021-22 to the previously mentioned 17th.

Having another offseason of adding players that fit into Lalonde’s system and style of playing, mixed in with another training camp to help implement more of these right off the bat, should help the team perform better than last season and at least fight for a playoff spot come the end of 2023-24.

Overall, the Red Wings have a great chance to make a return to the playoffs this season if the above-mentioned things all fall into place and impact the team in a positive manner, mixed in with other aspects of becoming a playoff team.

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