Revisiting Preseason Red Wings’ Pending Free Agent Predictions

The Hockey Writers

Before starting the 2023-24 season, I predicted what would happen with some of the Detroit Red Wings’ pending unrestricted (UFA) and restricted free agents (RFA). Through three-quarters of the season and with the trade deadline just around the corner, how do these predictions look as of now?

Jonatan Berggren 

Preseason prediction: Berggren has a breakout season for the Red Wings and earns a three-year contract extension from Yzerman.

This prediction has not worked out in the slightest, as Jonatan Berggren has only seen a handful of games in the Red Wings lineup this season due to both a deep roster and the fact that he was unable to fully stick out in training camp and preseason for the team. 

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After a strong showing in his rookie season last year, it was disappointing for Red Wings fans to see him return to Grand Rapids to play for the Griffins. But what was Red Wings fans’ loss became the Griffins fans’ gain. So far this season, Berggren has been one of the team’s strongest players and has showcased his all-around game, mainly in the offensive zone, where he has lit it up. 

Lately, there have been reports circling around Berggren turning down contract extension offers from GM Steve Yzerman and that the team could be looking to trade him so he can get a better chance to play in the NHL. There’s a chance that Yzerman can turn Berggren (and possibly more assets) into a player who will be able to impact the lineup going forward. Still, seeing a prospect of his caliber unable to crack the lineup full-time for the Red Wings is disappointing. 

Christian Fischer

Preseason prediction: Fischer is traded by the trade deadline.

When the Red Wings signed Christian Fischer in the offseason, they hoped he could provide some depth for the team in the bottom six of the forward grouping while adding some offense. While he has not significantly added to the team’s success, he has brought some needed energy and grit to the lineup. Whether it has been in the form of his strong forechecking and wreaking havoc in the offensive zone or making timely hits to fire up the team and the Little Caesars crowd, Fischer has been a solid bottom-six player. 

At this point, it’s likely that one of the Red Wings’ “energizers” will stay put through the deadline and finish the season in a winged wheel uniform. There is also an outside chance that the team could look to bring him back next season as well. 

Shayne Gostisbehere

Preseason prediction: Gostisbehere performs well enough for the Red Wings and earns himself a long-term deal with a different team in 2024-25.

Being known as more of an offensive presence from the back end of the ice, Shayne Gostisbehere has brought another level of offensive impact from the Red Wings’ defenseman that they had been lacking in prior seasons. The Red Wings’ defensive unit ranks towards the top in both points and goals in the league, and Gostisbehere is a big part of that. 

Shayne Gostisbehere Detroit Red Wings
Shayne Gostisbehere, Detroit Red Wings (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

While his offensive game has been solid, his defensive play has been a little shaky throughout the season. Rumors were spreading that Yzerman could move the pending UFA if he found the right deal before the trade deadline. A deciding factor outside of getting the right return is if Yzerman feels that someone like Simon Edvinsson is ready and able to make the jump to the NHL full-time and take on the role that Gostisbehere has filled this season. 

David Perron

Preseason prediction: Red Wings stay in playoff contention, hang on to Perron, and he leaves the organization as a free agent in the 2024 offseason.

As one of the team’s leaders once again this season, David Perron has had a solid season for the Red Wings. With that said, he is one of the elder statesmen on the roster and could find himself either getting traded at the deadline or not returning to the Red Wings this offseason. With a few younger prospects and the possibility of bringing back Patrick Kane or Daniel Sprong, Perron could find himself on the outside looking in for a new contract from the Red Wings. However, there has been word that the team has reversed course on looking at trading him at the deadline and is now currently thinking of extension talks. 

Lucas Raymond 

Preseason prediction: Raymond has a bounce-back year after earning first-line minutes and signs a four-year extension in the offseason.

While Lucas Raymond has not secured himself an extension as of now, he has had a bounce-back year in a big way for the Red Wings. After seeing time on the top line to begin the season, he has found himself leading the second line, with Kane taking over the top line role. With less pressure put on the third-year forward, he has looked more confident in his play and has been a driving force for the Red Wings’ strong offense. 

Related: Red Wings’ Lucas Raymond Fulfilling Potential in Year 3

Yzerman should look to extend Raymond this offseason, as he will be an RFA at season’s end. 

James Reimer

Preseason prediction: Reimer plays the entire 2023-24 season with the Red Wings and leaves via free agency in the offseason.

After being one of Yzerman’s biggest head-scratching moves of the offseason, James Reimer found himself starting on a good foot with the Red Wings, but he has been on a roller coaster type of season to this point. With an injury to Ville Husso and the team needing a competent backup to Alex Lyon for the home stretch, it’s most likely that Reimer will find himself staying in a Red Wing uniform unless they decide to hit the trade market for a possible upgrade. He will likely leave as a free agent in the offseason as the Wings look for Husso to return to full health and create a hopeful strong duo with Lyon for next season. 

Moritz Seider

Preseason prediction: Seider signs a six-year contract extension by the end of the regular season.

Another pending RFA that the Red Wings have is young defenseman Moritz Seider. While he started a little slow defensively at the beginning of the season, Seider has been one of the Red Wings’ most consistent defensemen and has looked more like the player who won the Calder Trophy for Rookie of the Year two seasons ago.

Moritz Seider Detroit Red Wings
Moritz Seider, Detroit Red Wings (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Like Raymond, he is another player who should be earning some type of long-term extension to keep in a Red Wing jersey for the foreseeable future to help lockdown the back end for the organization. 

Daniel Sprong

Preseason prediction: Sprong earns himself a two-year extension with the Red Wings.

After signing the one-year deal he signed this last offseason with the Red Wings, Daniel Sprong has looked every bit of one of the league’s most underrated players. Even without getting top-line minutes (12:36 average time on ice), he has produced offensively offensively for the Red Wings and added more offensive depth to the lineup. If Yzerman decides not to bring back Sprong at season’s end, he will surely have plenty of suitors this offseason. But personally, Sprong should be finding himself a home in Detroit beyond this season.

Joe Veleno

Preseason prediction: Veleno struggles throughout the season and finds himself traded at the trade deadline for a fresh start.

After a few seasons that have been seen as disappointing by the former first-round pick, Joe Veleno has proven this prediction wrong and has turned in a solid season that has been considered a make-or-break one for him. He is another player who has been able to add to the depth of the forward group and reach the double-digit mark for goals this season while looking more comfortable in the role he is currently in. In contrast to my prediction at the beginning of the season, Veleno could get another extension from Yzerman that keeps him in Detroit for the next couple of seasons. 

Looking Forward for Yzerman and the Red Wings

While there is still time left in the regular season, the Red Wings and Yzerman find themselves in a good spot and will have some decisions to make regarding their pending free agents. They have extended Michael Rasmussen and will also have a decision to make on Patrick Kane at some point as well. With the prospects that are potentially pushing for a roster spot next season, Yzerman will have his hands full on what will make the most sense for the Red Wings organization going forward, both short-term and long-term.

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