Red Wings Lineup Battles to Watch for in 2023-24

The Hockey Writers

Every season, there are battles in training camp and even at the beginning of the season to finalize each line’s players and setup. This year is no different for the Detroit Red Wings after adding numerous players and the potential of high-profile prospects making a push for the opening night lineup for the 2023-24 season. So, what battles could take place throughout training camp this season?

Final Spot on First Line

Since acquiring Alex DeBrincat from the Ottawa Senators, it has been assumed (rightfully so), that he will be joining Dylan Larkin on the first forward line for the Red Wings. The biggest question for this line, though, has been “Who joins them?” There are a few different directions that head coach Derek Lalonde could go at this spot. He could put the youngster Lucas Raymond on that line with Larkin and DeBrincat, which would give the top line a trio of players who hold speed and the ability to score goals at will (combined 76 goals between the three). But in doing so, leaves the lineup a little top-heavy.

Related: 4 Reasons to Believe Alex DeBrincat Will Bounce Back in Detroit

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Another option that Lalonde could go with is placing veteran David Perron on the first line with Larkin and DeBrincat. This option gives the line an added layer of protection for the two goal scorers, with Perron sitting at 6-foot-1 and being a bigger body. This also gives them a player who can get in the dirty areas and get into the battles along the boards to get Larkin and DeBrincat the puck, mixed in with the playmaking ability Perron exhibits. This option also gives Lucas Raymond the chance to slide down to the second line and fill in as the go-to goal scorer on that line and balance out the lineup a little bit more scoring-wise.

David Perron Detroit Red Wings
David Perron, Detroit Red Wings (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

The last viable option for the first line would be to slide Michael Rasmussen into one of the wing spots. Like Perron, Rasmussen adds a layer of protection in the aspect of his size (6-foot-6, 211 pounds) and his willingness to get to the dirty areas of the ice. Coming off the 2022-23 season, where he only played in 56 games, he put up a career-high in points with 29, including 10 goals and 19 assists.

Red Wings Bottom Six Forwards

Going along with the top line of the forwards, the bottom six of the Red Wings forwards is another battle that will be taking place. At the NHL draft, the team added forward Klim Kostin from the Edmonton Oilers and then added Daniel Sprong and Christian Fischer to fill in the third and fourth-line spots.

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Sprong will have a spot on the third line most likely after coming off a 2022-23 season with the Seattle Kraken when he was able to put 21 goals and 25 assists and did so in under 12 minutes of ice time per game. He was also able to fill in on the power play for the Kraken and put up 14 power-play points. So, his spot on the third line should be solidified as an energy booster and goal scorer when called upon.

Klim Kostin Edmonton Oilers
Klim Kostin, Edmonton Oilers (Photo by Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

The battle lies between Kostin and Fischer. Kostin, who is 24 years old and comes to Detroit after tallying 21 points last season with Edmonton while averaging just over 14 minutes of ice time per game, would be able to add some grit to the lineup (6-foot-3, 215 pounds). He also would add some more youth to the lineup as well.

Fischer comes to Detroit from the Arizona Coyotes after putting up 27 points and an average of just under 15 minutes of ice time.

This battle most likely will come down to whoever Lalonde feels will impact and benefit the lineup the most, as they are comparable players.

Red Wings Defense

After adding two veteran defensemen this offseason via free agency, the defensive side of the Red Wings lineup could see a couple of players battling to either move up the lineup or be able to force a player out and crack the lineup.

The first pairing for the Detroit defense is basically set with Moritz Seider and Jake Walman holding down the pairing after playing together as the top pairing last season and doing so at a high level. The second and third pairings are where it could get interesting. With the two defensemen that general manager Steve Yzerman signed in Shayne Gostisbehere and Justin Holl, these two could be fighting for the second pairing with the returning Ben Chiarot. In Holl, the Red Wings are getting a player who is more of a defensive defenseman that is comparable to Chiarot, while Gostisbehere is more of an offensive-minded player.

Simon Edvinsson Detroit Red Wings
Simon Edvinsson, Detroit Red Wings (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Another aspect of the defensive battle that could occur this year in training camp is the possibility of prospect Simon Edvinsson showing up to camp and pushing one of the veterans who could be on the bottom two defensive pairings for a spot if he can outperform and wow the coaching staff to put them in a tough position on who will be the odd man out. If this were to happen, it would then force Yzerman also to look to move one of the defensemen that is on the roster to make room for a player like Edvinsson.

Red Wings Backup Goalie Spot

Another position where the team has had some turnover this offseason is with the backups from last season leaving (Magnus Hellberg and Alex Nedeljkovic) and replacing them with two new goaltenders in James Reimer and Alex Lyon.

This battle is one that many think should happen, but it’s possible it will not. With Reimer, Detroit is getting a veteran goaltender who is coming off a down year with the San Jose Sharks and is pushing the back end of his career. Granted, the backup role for the Red Wings is likely a bridge-type role. But, having a reliable and confident backup who is able to be relied upon when their number is called is vital for teams that are trying to make the next jump like the Red Wings are.

Alex Lyon Florida Panthers
Alex Lyon, Florida Panthers (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

With Lyon, Detroit is getting a goalie who played with the Florida Panthers and experienced the trek of a playoff run to the Stanley Cup Final. He was able to back up starter Sergei Bobrovsky last season and filled in well, going 9-4-2 with a 2.89 goals-against average and a solid .914 save percentage and is five years younger than Reimer.

This is another possible position battle like the defensive battle in the sense that if it were to turn into a battle, it would be because of Lyon coming into camp and possibly the preseason outbattling and performing Reimer. This would also force the hand of both Derek Lalonde and Yzerman.

Overall, these possible position battles are ones to keep an eye on throughout training camp, into the preseason, and possibly the early stages of the regular season.

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