With the Detroit Red Wings being 20 games into their 2023-24 regular season, they have almost reached the quarter mark. So far, the Red Wings have found themselves on somewhat of a roller coaster, having ridden a couple of winning streaks mixed in with a couple of multi-game losing streaks as well. There have been some standouts on the young season so far as well as some duds.
So now that we’ve gotten through a quarter of the season, how have the Red Wing players performed and graded out?
*All stats are as of Nov. 28*
One of the offseason acquisitions that raised some eyebrows of fans was the signing of JT Compher. This was due to the length and term that Compher was given along with the fact the team had just given a similar deal to a player who is very comparable to Compher when they signed Andrew Copp last offseason.
But with that being said, Compher has been one of, if not the Red Wings’ best penalty killers along with one of their go-to faceoff takers. His resiliency in the offensive zone on the forecheck has been a driving force for his hot start on the stat sheet which sees him with 17 points so far. The chemistry he has built with Copp has helped them become the team’s top penalty-killing forward unit.
Alex DeBrincat/Dylan Larkin
The two players who have been tied and linked together since the offseason, Dylan Larkin and Alex DeBrincat have both led the way in the offensive zone for the Red Wings and as they go, the rest of the team goes. Both players started the season hot while helping the power play start off on a high note. But they both also hit a dry spell at the same time which led to a trickle-down effect through the rest of the lineup. This led to some lineup shuffles by head coach Derek Lalonde, with both being split up. As of the last few games, the two have seemed to get themselves back on track and will be relied upon heavily for the rest of the season.
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Even with the dry spell they both incurred, they have been the team’s top two forward producers.
After signing a one-year deal in the offseason, the hope and expectation for Shayne Gostisbehere was that he would come in and give a blue-line boost to the Red Wings’ offensive production. So far through 20 games, he has done just that and has exceeded some people’s expectations. He has tallied 14 total points while solidifying himself as one of the team’s most consistent defensemen.
Included in those 14 points are 10 that have come while on the power play, which Gostisbehere has helped solidify with his smooth passing and shot from the point on the first unit. As of late, he has shown he is capable of stepping into a top pair role with Moritz Seider as Jake Walman had been sidelined due to injury. Gostisbehere’s play so far has been a great surprise for the team and there are high hopes he can continue with it throughout the rest of the season.
After a sophomore season that saw his production drop off a bit, Lucas Raymond came into this season having earned high praise from Lalonde with how he showed up to training camp looking bigger and stronger. That praise has been warranted so far with Raymond showing off that strength with a more physical game and a willingness to throw his weight around to make a play when need be. After a somewhat sluggish start in the offensive zone, having only scored one goal in the first seven games, he has picked his offensive game up with four goals in his last six games while still getting top-line minutes with Larkin.
The one thing that would make fans and the organization happier would be to see him get on the scoresheet a bit more while on the power play (he has one power play goal on the season). With the shot Raymond possesses he could easily be on the verge of a full-blown breakout in the scoring department.
While being paired up with Seider, Jake Walman continues to stick out on the ice thanks to his solid puck handling and rocket of a shot while also logging the second-most minutes per game on the team behind Seider. He has been a big factor on the power play with four of his eight points on the season coming on the man advantage. Defensively, he has been consistent in the defensive zone and it has led to him to being second on the team in plus/minus at plus-7.
Coming into this season there were hopes that the second year as a Red Wing would be a bit more consistent for Andrew Copp after not being 100 per cent healthy to start last season. On the opposite end of the spectrum of Compher though, Copp’s offensive numbers just are not there so far. He has only tallied five goals and seven points.
The one positive that has come out of the first 20 games is the continuity and chemistry he has built with Compher on the top penalty-killing unit that is solid on the forecheck. If Copp can get his offensive numbers up, it will add an extra layer of depth and secondary scoring that the team will surely need throughout the rest of the season.
Christian Fischer/ Klim Kostin
Brought in as a depth piece and a seasoned vet, Christian Fischer has filled the role of third/fourth-line grinder and has helped with the forward group’s depth. While playing on the fourth line, he’s brought energy to the team and has proven to be willing to “muck” it up along. He has provided some offensive touch as well, with five points on the season.
Klim Kostin was brought in to bring some grit and depth to the team along with Fischer. There was also hope that the 24-year-old could carry over his offensive production from last season with the Edmonton Oilers into this season. While he has added that needed physicality and grit, his offensive numbers have not been up to last season’s with only two points through 16 games. He has looked close to getting himself going offensively when given the chance but has gotten the short end of the stick luck-wise with a number of posts hit so far.
Fischer Grade: B
Kostin Grade: B-
Another free-agent signing that was seen as a head-scratcher this offseason, Justin Holl’s numbers may not stand out with only three assists but he has been pretty solid on the back end for the Red Wings. There have been times he has been caught out of position or has made head-scratching decisions in the defensive zone, but has been able to also make a number of solid plays in the zone as well. He currently sits tied with Ben Chiarot for first on the team in plus/minus with a plus-8.
As one of the most seasoned vets on the Red Wings roster, David Perron had a slow start through the first handful of games, having gone minus-4 in the first two games of the season alone. However, he has been able to get his offensive game going as of late and has scored four times in the last five games while being involved in the power play. He is currently tied with Larkin for the team lead in power play goals at four. A key downfall to Perron’s season thus far has been that he has been prone to untimely and costly penalties.
After a career-worst season last season with the San Jose Sharks, the Red Wings brought in veteran James Reimer to help fill the backup goalie role. This move had been met with some skepticism due to his rough 2022-23, but Reimer started off hot with a shutout in his first game as a Red Wing. He has not looked awful in the net but his play seems to have tapered off as he has played more.
Being looked at as one of the league’s top young defensemen, Moritz Seider has gotten off to a solid start with his offensive production thanks to the hot start on the power play (seven of his 12 points have come on the power play).
His physicality has also been on display again while being relied on heavily to eat up some minutes on the ice (team-leading 22:27 time on ice per game). However, it seems like his speed is a step behind and he has been caught in defensive lapses a number of times. He has not been bad in the defensive zone by any means but could be a little more solid in the zone.
After a solid season with the Seattle Kraken, Daniel Sprong was brought in by the Red Wings on a one-year deal in hopes he could replicate that breakout season. So far he has proved that last season was not a full-blown fluke and has put up solid offensive numbers while showing a willingness to let the puck rip with his rocket of a shot. The only downfall with his shot is that it can be erratic at times.
If he can start hitting the net a tad bit more, the offensive numbers will continue to go up. He is another player that the team is likely hoping can get themselves going on the second power play unit, only having two assists on the power play this season.
Coming into this season, there had been talks that it would be a make-or-break season for the former first-round pick due to the fact he had not taken the chances he had been given and ran with them. But so far, Joe Veleno has played with a different sense of confidence and energy that has been noticeable by many, most notably Lalonde. This has led to him getting “promoted” to the top line while also shuffling from the winger spot to center at times when the team goes to an 11/7 lineup.
While the offensive numbers have not made a massive jump, he has been active on both ends of the ice and has been solid on the forecheck while helping create chances.
Ben Chiarot has been one of the most frustrating and up-and-down players for the Red Wings this season. There have been times where he has looked solid, jumping into the offensive play and making good defensive plays but there have been times where he looks lost in his own zone. He has been caught flat-footed a number of times in his zone while turning the puck over as well. Even with this up-and-down play, he finds himself sitting at the top of the team’s plus/minus with Holl at plus-8.
Coming into the season there were hopes Ville Husso being healthy would lead to him being more consistent between the pipes, but so far he has struggled to do that. While he has a 7-3-1 record, he has not looked like the goalie that general manager Steve Yzerman was hoping he would be when acquired from the St. Louis Blues last year. There have been times he has looked out of position and has not taken away angles for shooters and other times he has just looked all-around shaky look in the net.
Being the odd man out a few times this season with the team carrying seven defensemen, Maatta has struggled to be a consistent player on the back end. He currently has played the least minutes per game of any defenseman on the roster and has not been productive offensively. He has been able to get involved in the offensive zone but has not had much to show for it so far.
A surprising acquisition this offseason from the Montreal Canadiens, Jeff Petry has challenged Chiarot as the most frustrating player to watch this season on the back end of the ice. He has been inconsistent in his own zone while turning the puck over too many times and has looked lost at times. This has led to many calling for the team to call up Simon Edvinsson to take his spot in the lineup as fans feel Edvinsson could not be any worse than what they have seen from Petry. The one bright spot from Petry has been his willingness to hop into the offensive rushes and get involved in the offensive zone, leading to six assists.
Another player like Veleno whom the organization had high hopes for making the jump to the next level, Michael Rasmussen has not been able to do that so far. He has struggled to get himself in on the offensive play while only totaling six points. He has also found himself playing in the bottom six lately, but on the bright side, he has looked solid paired with Larkin on the penalty kill.
This season has seen Robby Fabbri continue to fight the injury bug and he has only played eight games. He has looked strong in those eight games though, having scored four times and being a force in the offensive zone. He has also shown a willingness to put his body on the line when needed to block shots, which has made fans cringe in hopes that it does not lead to another injury.
Having only played in three games so far this season, Alex Lyon has looked solid in net. His play could possibly lead to more time in the crease with Husso and Reimer not looking like a sure tandem. If he continues to get playing time, he can establish himself as the team’s full-time backup and be a vital piece to a playoff push.
Plenty of Room for Improvement
Overall, while the start of the season for the Red Wings has been good, there is plenty of room for improvement, especially defensively and in the net. If the offense can keep itself going and the defensive play can pick up, fans may be looking at an exciting push for a playoff spot toward the end of the season.