After an off-season full of trades and free-agent signings, the Detroit Red Wings have positioned themselves to have an improved group of forwards at their disposal. But they are not the only team in the Atlantic division to have added players to their forward group, with the rest of the division doing so. The question is, with all of these moves, how do the Red Wings match up to the rest of the division heading into the season?
How Do the Wings’ Matchup?
Starting with the Boston Bruins, who lost numerous forwards through free agency (Taylor Hall, Tyler Bertuzzi) and retirement (Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci). Even with the loss of these players, Boston still has a top group of forwards in their lineup, led by David Pastrnak.
Last season, Boston dominated the league, and the Red Wings were not any exception en route to a historic regular season. But, with the additions the Red Wings have made this off-season, the gap between the two teams in the top six of their lineups is slowly closing. Boston still holds the edge over the Red Wings though.
In the bottom six, the Red Wings should be able to match up very well against the Bruins with the additions of players like Daniel Sprong, mixed in with the shifting of players down the lineup, as a result of the moves the team has made during the off-season.
Overall, the Bruins hold a slight edge over the Red Wings forward group, but again, the gap is surely closing and could continue to do so this season.
The Buffalo Sabres and Ottawa Senators are two teams on the up-tick in the Atlantic thanks to forward groups that are led by young stars in Tage Thompson (Buffalo) and Brady Tkachuk (Ottawa). These teams also possess a one-two punch at the top of their lineup that the Red Wings are hoping Dylan Larkin and Alex DeBrincat can create for them.
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Overall though, the Red Wings depth on the forward side is deeper than Buffalo, giving them the edge over the Sabres. The Senators possess similar depth as the Red Wings and should make for another fun season when the two teams match up against each other. Therefore, the two teams should be seen as nose-to-nose on the forward end of their lineups.
The darlings of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Florida Panthers, could be coming back down to earth after a season where many of their players either over-achieved or had career years. Led by the other Tkachuk brother, Matthew, the Panthers do not possess as much depth as the Red Wings do at the forward position, and thus, the Red Wings should be able to match up well against them this season.
Along with holding an edge over the Panthers, the Red Wings should be able to match up and have the offensive edge over the rebuilding Montreal Canadians. The Canadians are building up their roster with a group of younger players who have produced at a good level, but will likely need another year or two of development and growth to compete fully with the Red Wings and the rest of the Atlantic division.
The two teams in the division who possess the top forward groupings not only in the division but in the entire league, as well, are the Tampa Bay Lightning and Toronto Maple Leafs. These two teams stand above the rest of the division, and the Red Wings are striving to at least be able to slow them down this season and hopefully emulate their offensive numbers at some point.
Overall, with the moves that general manager (GM) Steve Yzerman and the Red Wings have made this off-season, they are closing the gap and gaining the edge over teams in the Atlantic division heading into this season.