The Detroit Red Wings have played 46 of their 82 regular season games and have found themselves in the middle of the playoff hunt to this point. With the All-Star break just around the corner, the Red Wings look to continue their push toward ending their playoff drought, but what else is there to watch for in the second half of the season?
Who Takes the Reins as the Number One Goalie?
Entering the season, many were surprised that general manager Steve Yzerman had signed two NHL-experienced goalies, James Reimer and Alex Lyon. Reimer came off a down season with the San Jose Sharks last season, while Lyon helped carry the Florida Panthers to the playoffs at the end of the regular season. The hope was that one of these two would fill the backup spot for Ville Husso, who was expected to have a bounce-back season after an injury-riddled finish in 2023-24.
While Husso carried the workload early on in the season, Reimer did spell him a handful of times and looked solid when called upon. But as the season progressed, he seemingly fell off a bit and the team eventually gave Lyon a shot in the net while in Sweden against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Ever since getting that chance, he has seemingly been the Red Wings’ best goalie and has carried the workload since Husso went down to injury on Dec. 18 against the Anaheim Ducks. In the 16 games since Husso went down, Lyon has been in the crease for 11 of those games and has looked like a competent number-one goalie for the Red Wings. With being signed to a two-year contract, Lyon could end up being a part of the future of the team as well.
But, with Husso on the verge of returning in the coming weeks, the Red Wings’ goaltending situation could get interesting. They could slowly work him back into full-time action or if Lyon can continue his hot streak, they may very well ride the hot hand and leave him in the net going forward and have Husso as his backup. This situation will end up being one of the most impactful things to keep an eye on if the Red Wings want to make a serious push toward the playoffs this season.
Can The Red Wings Avoid the Injury Bug?
Every team in the league battles the injury bug to some extent throughout their season, but many times it plays into a team’s success in the season’s dog days. With the Red Wings finding themselves in the mix for a playoff spot, avoiding several injuries as the season advances will end up being key to them ending the regular season with a spot.
As of late, the Red Wings have had to combat a few injuries, including Patrick Kane being out the last few games and expected to miss a few more coming up. It will be worth keeping a watchful eye on to see how Kane can bounce back from his lower-body injury. Before the injury, he had looked solid and brought some much-welcomed experience and calmness to the offensive zone with his playmaking abilities.
Latest News & Highlights
If the team can avoid hitting a rash of injuries down the stretch, it will be an immense help for helping make the playoffs at year’s end.
Buyers or Sellers at the Deadline?
The two first things to keep an eye on for the remainder of the season will most likely play a role in what happens at the trade deadline and what Steve Yzerman decides to do for the organization. If the Red Wings find themselves in the thick of the playoff race and he believes that they can be legitimate threats in the playoffs, then there is a good chance that he goes out and brings in a player to help even more. With the team’s defense struggling throughout the season, he could look to add a defenseman to help shore up the back end.
Tied in with the deadline and being “buyers” is the cost of bringing in players who are big contributors. The organization has a deep farm system, with a few prospects in Logan Horn’s Top 100 NHL Prospects. Any big-time trade would likely include parting ways with at least one of their prospects. There are only a handful of them that would likely be off-limits, including Simon Edvinsson, Marco Kasper, Axel Sandin Pellikka, and Nate Danielson, so someone like Jonatan Berggren could be made available if Yzerman sees fit.
On the flip side of the coin, if Yzerman determines that the team is not quite to the point of being a serious playoff threat, he could look to add more draft picks or pieces for down the road by moving players that are on one-year deals or that bring back the most in return. Players to keep an eye on are Shayne Gostisbehere and Daniel Sprong. Both of whom signed one-year deals this last offseason and have had solid seasons for the Red Wings.
In either situation, there is certainly a chance that the Red Wings trade one of the three goalies that they are carrying, with Lyon most likely staying put and Husso being the same way. The most likely case is that the team looks to flip James Reimer for some kind of mid to late-round draft pick to a team looking for a capable backup goaltender for a playoff push.
Potential Prospect Call-Ups
If the team does move some players at the deadline, there is a chance that there ends up being a few prospects who are the most NHL-ready in the organization to make a jump to the NHL. With players like Berggren and Edvinsson both making their way to Detroit at times this season already, they would be at the top of the list of players that could earn a call-up once again.
There are a few dark horse players who could earn a call-up if there are spots available towards the end of the season, including Kasper, who has caught fire as of late after having a slow start to his season in Grand Rapids.
Plenty to Watch the Rest of the Season
The remainder of 2023-24 has a chance to become one of the most exciting seasons in a long time for the Red Wings and their fans. There are also plenty of things to keep an eye on as the season hits its crunch time as well. It will be quite an entertaining and interesting finish to the 2023-24 Red Wings’ regular season.