Red Wings vs. Expectations: Who’s Exceeding & Who’s Failing

The Hockey Writers

Before the season began, I put together scoring projections for each Detroit Red Wings player. And since we’re in the midst of a nine-day All-Star break, now is a good time to revisit those projections.

As a whole, the Red Wings are exceeding expectations offensively, but falling short defensively – at least when compared to last year’s team. But what about individual players? Which are outpacing my projections? And which are lagging behind? Let’s dive in and find out.

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Red Wings Exceeding Expectations

If we’re talking about Red Wings going above and beyond, we have to start with Dylan Larkin. Detroit’s captain has been everything you’d want from a 1C so far this season. 

While his raw totals are on pace with preseason projections, his scoring per 60 rates are well above expectations. In all situations, I projected Larkin to score 1.15 goals and 2.78 points per 60. His actual numbers: 1.57 goals and 3.2 points per 60. This puts him in the same production cohort as Brayden Point, Mitch Marner, and Sidney Crosby.

Dylan Larkin Andrew Copp Detroit Red Wings
Dylan Larkin and Andrew Copp celebrate a goal for the Detroit Red Wings. (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Another player exceeding expectations is Daniel Sprong. The free agent acquisition is on pace for 52 points, 23.8 percent more than projected. Sprong’s impressive play in limited minutes could warrant him a contract extension if this trend continues.

In addition, I want to call out J.T. Compher, who has crushed his projections so far. He’s only three points shy of what was expected for the entire season (32 points), and there are 32 games still to go. His projection was based on an assumption that a step down in linemate quality would impact his production. This has not been the case. Compher has been highly effective as Detroit’s second-line center this season.

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Finally, it’s worth noting that Jake Walman, Olli Maatta, Shayne Gostisbehere, and Joe Veleno are all exceeding expectations – albeit to a lesser extent than the three players mentioned above.

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Red Wings Falling Short of Expectations

Two Red Wings, in particular, are failing to meet their preseason projections: David Perron and Klim Kostin.

Despite factoring in his age and a decreased role, I had Perron projected to 21 goals and 56 points. He’s on pace to pot 16 goals and accumulate 38 total points – even with top-six and first power play ice time. He hasn’t been effective on Larkin’s wing, and may be suited for a lesser role in the bottom six. 

David Perron Detroit Red Wings
The Red Wings need David Perron to step his game up down the stretch. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Historically, Kostin has maintained a high shooting percentage in limited minutes. Even with some decline factored in, this should have continued, but that has not been the case.

Instead, Kostin is on pace for five goals and seven points. This is well short of the 11 goals and 22 points that were originally projected. His points per 60 are way below expectations, too – 0.92 in reality versus a 1.65 projection.

Final Word

For a team with postseason aspirations, it’s encouraging to see key contributors like Larkin and Compher pulling their weight – and then some. Sprong, too. In addition, Lucas Raymond, Alex DeBrincat, and Robby Fabbri are keeping pace with their projections.

On top of this, the Red Wings are getting way more production from their defense than previously expected. And they added Patrick Kane midseason, which, of course, wasn’t factored into the original projections.

That said, they need these trends to continue. There are 32 games left in the season. First half success is meaningless if the production tails off.

Data courtesy of Natural Stat Trick.

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