After an offseason full of excitement and acquisitions, the 2023-24 season is finally here for the Detroit Red Wings. With the opening night roster set, let’s take a look at how it was built.
Out of the 22 players the Red Wings have on their opening night roster, five are homegrown talent via the NHL Draft. That number makes up only 23 percent of the team’s lineup and is led by defenseman Moritz Seider who was drafted by the team in the first round of the 2019 Draft (sixth overall). The rest of it includes Lucas Raymond (2020, fourth overall), Michael Rasmussen (2017, ninth overall), Dylan Larkin (2014, 15th overall) and Joe Veleno (2018, 30th overall).
The only player that is signed beyond this season out of these five players is Larkin, who is locked into an eight-year deal that runs through the 2030-31 season and is the team’s highest-paid player at an $8.7 million average annual value (AAV). The other four players are all pending restricted free agents (RFA) at year’s end and will be working to earn themselves a new contract. Seider and Raymond are both players that many believe will be part of the franchise for the long-term as building blocks, while there are hopes that Veleno can make a jump this season and that Rasmussen can stay healthy to show what his value truly is to the team.
The Red Wings roster has seen a complete overhaul since GM Steve Yzerman took over in 2019, and much of that has been done through free agency. This season’s roster is no different with 11 players on the roster being acquired via free agency. While half of the roster is made up of these signees, there is not one that has been signed any longer ago than last offseason and there are only four that are signed past the end of the 2024-25 season.
This group of players is led contract-wise by Andrew Copp (five-year deal signed in 2022) and JT Compher (five-year deal signed this offseason) and consists of three players who were signed to one-year deals this offseason in Christian Fischer, Daniel Sprong and James Reimer.
The expectation and hopes of many are that the young players that the Red Wings have in their pipeline can continue to develop this season to the point that the organization can move on from some of these players. The five players with expiring contracts this season will have something to prove, either to the Red Wings organization or to other teams across the league to show why they should be given a serious look during free agency or at the trade deadline.
Since his return to Detroit, Yzerman has seemed to like making trades with a certain team, having made half of his trades with the St. Louis Blues. It started in 2019 when the team acquired forward Robby Fabbri for fellow forward Jacob de la Rose. The Red Wings have seemed to make out better than the Blues on this trade, along with the other two that the two teams have made in recent years.
Latest News & Highlights
In two separate trades in 2022 with St. Louis, the Red Wings added goaltender Ville Husso and defenseman Jake Walman. In return, Detroit gave up a 2022 third-round pick (for Husso), and defensemen Nick Leddy and Luke Witkowski (for Walman, Oscar Sundqvist and a 2023 second-round pick). While Husso was unable to build off a solid season in 2021-22 and translate it into more success last season, the hope is that he will be able to bounce back and have a breakout season in 2023-24 for the Red Wings. As for Walman, he has developed into one of the team’s most exciting and entertaining defensemen and has helped solidify the top pairing with Seider, earning himself a three-year extension last February.
The three other trades that have had an impact on this season’s roster have been worked out this offseason and are ones that fans will have to wait to see what impact they will have on the ice. The biggest trade of the offseason and of the Yzerman era was with the acquisition of forward Alex DeBrincat from the Ottawa Senators who was subsequently signed to a four-year extension that runs through the 2026-27 season. The hope for DeBrincat is that he can slide into a Red Wings lineup that has been looking for a top-tier scorer and that he can fill that role having scored 40 goals twice in his career so far.
The acquisitions of forward Klim Kostin and defenseman Jeff Petry are not necessarily as big as the DeBrincat acquisition, but both should have an impact on the team this season. Yzerman has wanted to get more size and physicality into the lineup and Kostin brings that after being acquired at this year’s draft from the Edmonton Oilers. Boasting a 6-foot-4 frame, he is not afraid to mix it up physically and also brings some skill to the bottom-six of the lineup. Petry is a veteran defenseman who brings 13 years of NHL experience to the Red Wings lineup and will factor into the defensive rotation and possibly the powerplay at times after being acquired from the Montreal Canadiens for defenseman Gustav Lindstrom and a conditional 2025 fourth-round pick.
Heading into the 2023-24 season, the Red Wings roster has seen an overhaul from not just last season but has only one player from the 2019-20 opening night roster in captain Dylan Larkin. They also have a handful of players who will be pending free agents at year’s end, whether it be an unrestricted free agent or an RFA. With the mix of pending free agents and young players potentially making a push for a roster spot next season, Yzerman will have his hands full when it comes to decisions on roster management after this season, while also being projected to have just over $29 million in cap space to sign players such as Seider and Raymond to long-term deals. Safe to say, the 2023-24 season should be an exciting and entertaining one for Red Wings fans.