Red Wings News & Rumors: Playoffs, Contract Extensions, Prospects & More

The Hockey Writers

Miraculously, the Detroit Red Wings are still in the playoff hunt. Their 37-30-8 record places them just one point out of the last wild card spot with seven games to go.

With the Red Wings off until Friday, I wanted to empty the notebook and discuss a few topics that have been top-of-mind lately. Let’s dive in.

Red Wings: Playoffs vs. Better Draft Pick

Over the last month, I’ve seen commentary on which outcome would be better for the Red Wings: a postseason berth and big-game experience or missing the playoffs and having that serve as motivation going into next season. Frankly, both are good – for different reasons.

Derek Lalonde Detroit Red Wings
Derek Lalonde and the Detroit Red Wings still have a shot at the playoffs. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

If the Red Wings make the playoffs, then they accomplish a preseason goal and, theoretically, have a shot at winning the Stanley Cup. Plus, core players like Lucas Raymond, Moritz Seider, Simon Edvinsson, Michael Rasmussen, and Joe Veleno get to experience playoff hockey for the first time. Playoff revenue is also an important factor.

Alternatively, if Detroit misses the playoffs, then their first-round pick will be a couple slots higher. Pick No. 15 has slightly more value than No. 17, and they at least have a chance at moving up a maximum of ten spots with some lottery luck.

Regardless of the outcome, change is coming this offseason. Making the playoffs won’t deter that. Yzerman has seen this group compete for a full season – with and without key players. Team defense and goaltending were issues during the good and bad times, and will be priorities this summer even if the Red Wings qualify for the postseason.

Short-Term vs. Long-Term Contracts for Seider & Raymond

In addition to addressing the blue line and goaltending situation, re-signing Lucas Raymond and Moritz Seider are high on Yzerman’s summer to-do list. Both are on expiring entry-level contracts, and are due for hefty raises.

I projected eight-year contracts for both players (Seider projection here; Raymond projection here). That said, there’s been some discussion around shorter-term deals and if they would be better for the Red Wings. 

From my perspective, bridge contracts for Seider and Raymond would not be beneficial – even if there’s cap savings in the short term. Here’s why.

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Seider and Raymond are both 22. Players typically peak around 24-25. If both sign two- or three-year bridge deals, those contracts would expire when Seider and Raymond are at their peak. And at their peak, the two will likely command long-term, post-bridge contracts with salaries that reflect their career-best play – higher AAVs than what they’d expect if long-term deals were signed now. This would also come at a time when, on average, player performance begins to steadily decline.

Additionally, the salary cap is expected to go up significantly over the next few years. It could be as high as $92 million next summer, then likely even higher after the current CBA expires in 2026. Those post-bridge contract extensions I mentioned above – they’ll be negotiated in a salary cap environment where the ceiling will likely be over $100 million.

Alternatively, the Red Wings could sign Seider and Raymond to long-term deals now. Their AAVs will be higher than they would with short-term deals, but that amount will stay consistent for the next eight years, even as the salary cap rises and Seider and Raymond reach their peak.

In short, it’s better to pay more now for greater value later.

Red Wings Prospects News & Notes

It’s been a great year for Detroit’s top prospects. Simon Edvinsson earned a promotion to the NHL. Nate Danielson and Axel Sandin Pellikka have exceeded expectations in their draft-plus-one seasons. And Sebastian Cossa and Trey Augustine have been stellar in net for their respective clubs.

Flying under the radar a bit is Albert Johansson, who has quietly put together an impressive season in Grand Rapids. The 2019 second-round pick has 18 points in 57 games for the Griffins, and has the puck skills and poise to be an NHL defenseman. He’ll also require waivers next season.

If it were up to me, Johansson would get a cameo with the Red Wings before the season ends before joining the team full-time in the fall. He’s ready. The point total may not be impressive, but the tools are there. There’s also zero chance that a young, puck-moving blueliner who can play both sides will pass through waivers unclaimed if the Red Wings take that risk next year. 

A few more prospect notes:

  • Shai Buium and Denver University are off to the Frozen Four. It would not be surprising to see the junior defenseman sign an entry-level contract after his season is over and take Johansson’s spot in Grand Rapids next year.
  • After setting career highs (19 goals, 59 points) in the WHL, 2023 seventh-round pick Emmitt Finnie made his pro debut with the Griffins last week. Finnie unlocked his offensive potential through his speed and tenacity, and could turn into another late-round gem for the Red Wings.
  • Brady Cleveland—one of Detroit’s second rounders from 2023—has entered the transfer portal and intends to leave the University of Wisconsin now that his freshman year is over.

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