It’s September, which means the Detroit Red Wings return to action this month.
For the second summer in a row, general manager Steve Yzerman aggressively reshaped his roster. The Red Wings now have the depth and talent to make a serious bid for the playoffs.
With so many new faces in Detroit, what will the lineup look like? Below is my projection for how things will shake out ahead of opening night. Keep in mind that lines and pairings will change throughout the season – just because someone is scratched here doesn’t preclude them from dressing the next game.
Projected Lineup for the Red Wings
|Lucas Raymond||Dylan Larkin||Alex DeBrincat|
|Michael Rasmussen||Andrew Copp||David Perron|
|Robby Fabbri||J.T. Compher||Jonatan Berggren|
|Christian Fischer||Joe Veleno||Daniel Sprong|
|Klim Kostin||Austin Czarnik|
|Jake Walman||Moritz Seider||Ville Husso|
|Shayne Gostisbehere||Justin Holl||James Reimer|
|Ben Chiarot||Jeff Petry|
Overall, this is a deeper team than what we’ve seen in years past. And Detroit’s offense stands to benefit from the added depth.
After a year-over-year decline offensively, Steve Yzerman brought in Alex DeBrincat, Daniel Sprong, and J.T. Compher to add some scoring touch up front. These additions—combined with negligible subtractions—will allow the Red Wings to roll four lines without having to sacrifice much on offense.
One key battle to watch is the final top-six forward slot. DeBrincat, Dylan Larkin, Lucas Raymond, Andrew Copp, and David Perron figure to be locks for the top two lines. But who gets the last spot? My top contender is Michael Rasmussen, who I have slotted in as the second line left wing. The hulking forward impressed during short stints on the wing and could be highly effective as the first man in on a top-six line. Compher and Robby Fabbri are other candidates.
Defensively, there’s a logjam behind the Jake Walman-Moritz Seider top pairing. This isn’t a bad thing, though.
For one, it gives Simon Edvinsson time to ramp up in Grand Rapids after spending most of the summer rehabbing from shoulder surgery. Despite his top prospect status, there’s no need to rush him.
In addition, the remaining five defensemen—Ben Chiarot, Olli Maatta, Shayne Gostisbehere, Justin Holl, and Jeff Petry—give the Red Wings flexibility. No matter who is out of the lineup, Detroit will always have two defensemen who can play the left side (Chariot, Maatta, Gostisbehere, Petry) and two who can skate on the right side (Petry, Holl, Gostisbehere, Chiarot). And if the Red Wings opt to rotate defensemen every game, each of the five is looking at 64-68 games apiece, which is plenty.
It will be interesting, though, to see who gets the most second-pair minutes. Gostisbehere was brought in to replace Filip Hronek’s offense and Petry has played high-impact minutes for most of his career.
Regardless, Detroit’s defense is stronger and deeper than last year’s team.
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Red Wings Power Play
Next up, Detroit’s power play. Here’s how the two man advantage units could look entering the season.
|Quarterback||Moritz Seider||Shayne Gostisbehere|
|Left Flank||Alex DeBrincat||Daniel Sprong|
|Right Flank||Lucas Raymond||Jonatan Berggren|
|Bumper||Dylan Larkin||Robby Fabbri|
|Net Front/Side of Net||David Perron||Michael Rasmussen|
It’s fair to assume that the Red Wings will run the same power play alignment and strategy as they did last season. With that setup, DeBrincat would join PP1 as the trigger man on the left flank, with Raymond serving as the main facilitator.
As for PP2, Berggren would serve as the facilitator given his outstanding vision and playmaking abilities. In addition, the Red Wings could give Copp reps as the bumper given his above-average playmaking abilities. Petry could slot in as quarterback or left flank as well.
Red Wings Penalty Kill
Finally, here’s how the Red Wings could deploy their forwards and defensemen while shorthanded.
|Forward 1||Andrew Copp||Dylan Larkin||Joe Veleno|
|Forward 2||J.T. Compher||Michael Rasmussen||Christian Fischer|
|Defense 1||Ben Chiarot||Jake Walman|
|Defense 2||Justin Holl||Moritz Seider|
With Compher in the fold, the Red Wings could pare back Larkin’s penalty kill time to keep him fresh. Compher, Copp, Larkin, Rasmussen, and Christian Fischer figure to be Detroit’s main penalty killers.
In 2023-24, the Red Wings figure to have a deep lineup that’s an improvement over last year’s group. Scoring should be up, and there’s more flexibility with several players being able to play multiple roles throughout the lineup.
That’s how things stand right now. There’s a lot that can change before opening night – with injuries and prospects forcing their way onto the roster being realistic—if not likely—possibilities. One thing is certain, though – this is going to be an exciting Red Wings team to watch.