Final cuts loom large as the Detroit Red Wings’ first game of the 2023-24 season is just days away. While there were plenty of stand-outs throughout training camp and the preseason, there are only so many spots on the roster, and tough decisions have to be made. It looks like the Red Wings will begin the season with an unorthodox roster configuration. For better or for worse, a lot of talent was left off the NHL roster, at least to start the season.
Despite that fact, general manager (GM) Steve Yzerman seems hellbent on ensuring his team’s depth chart is not an issue to start this season. In fact, he recently signed another forward to further fill out the organization’s depth. But before we can get into that, let’s figure out who is on the NHL roster and who is on the outside looking in.
Final Cuts Made; Berggren, Edvinsson & Others Assigned
Yzerman added a ton of new faces over the summer, but you probably already knew that. Because of all the new faces, it was inevitable that tough decisions were going to be made, regardless of which players stood out in training camp and the preseason. To their credit, a lot of the organization’s top young players, including Simon Edvinsson and Nate Danielson, looked ready to contribute at the NHL level this season. Despite that fact, both were left off of the roster when the Red Wings announced their final cuts on Sunday night.
Latest News & Highlight
Winger Elmer Söderblom, who made the Red Wings’ roster out of training camp last season, was also assigned to the American Hockey League (AHL) along with Edvinsson. But perhaps the most surprising cut was Jonatan Berggren, a 23-year-old winger that scored 15 goals in 67 games with the Red Wings last season. The 2018 second round pick will begin the season in the AHL, just as he did last season.
As for Danielson, the Red Wings’ top pick in the 2023 draft, the young forward was a standout due to his well-rounded play and his ability to contribute in a variety of ways. He had four points in five preseason games, and he made an impact on both the power play and the penalty kill. The biggest wrinkle facing him was that the AHL is not an option for him due to the NHL’s transfer agreement with the Canadian Hockey League. Like Michael Rasmussen back in 2018, Danielson’s options were either the NHL or the Western Hockey League – and it sure looked like he is capable of playing at a higher level than the WHL has to offer. Regardless, he now returns to the Brandon Wheat Kings, the team he captained last season.
The Red Wings’ game on Oct. 7 against the Toronto Maple Leafs was essentially a dress rehearsal for opening night, and neither Edvinsson or Danielson were on the roster. In case you missed it, here’s what the Red Wings’ lineup looked like:
For the first time in a long time, the Red Wings seem to have more depth than they know what to do with. However, that hasn’t stopped Yzerman from continuing to add to what is already a healthy depth chart.
Red Wings Sign Zach Aston-Reese
Just a couple days after he was released from a tryout with the Carolina Hurricanes, forward Zach Aston-Reese signed a one-year, two-way contract with the Red Wings. The deal pays him $775k in the NHL and $350k in the AHL. Following the signing, the Red Wings waived him in order to assign him to the Griffins.
A 29-year-old from Staten Island, New York, Aston-Reese is a veteran of over 300 games in the NHL. He played 77 games with the Maple Leafs last season, registering 10 goals and 14 points along the way. Prior to that, he spent parts of five seasons with the Pittsburgh Penguins before he was traded to the Anaheim Ducks during the 2021-22 season. He’s a defensive forward that has had to scratch and claw his way into the NHL after he signed with the Penguins as an undrafted free agent in 2017. That experience should be a valuable asset in the Griffins locker room, as well as in Detroit’s locker room depending on injuries.
Though this signing was unexpected, it shouldn’t necessarily impact the Red Wings’ prospects’ pathway to the NHL. Aston-Reese could fill a role in Detroit’s bottom six if needed, but his value to the Red Wings mostly lies in what he can bring the Griffins’ roster. There are expectations of playoff hockey in Grand Rapids this season, and this signing is likely intended to help the Griffins get there.
- After the Red Wings released goaltender Michael Hutchinson from his tryout agreement, the Griffins signed the 33-year-old veteran to an AHL tryout agreement. With Alex Lyon, James Reimer and Ville Husso all remaining in Detroit (for now), it appears Hutchinson has an opportunity to secure a consistent role in Grand Rapids. He would make for a solid mentor for top goaltending prospect Sebastian Cossa, who is expected to secure a role with the Griffins this season as well.