Red Wings Rebuild: Three Years Into the Future

Danny DeKeyser, Detroit Red Wings, Jonatan Berggren, Top Story

With the 2019-20 NHL season on the horizon, now is a great time to evaluate the roster and organizational depth of the Detroit Red Wings. The Red Wings Rebuild series will do just that – projecting Detroit’s future roster and analyzing the progress of Hockeytown’s makeover.


Three years into the future, the Red Wings should be ready to compete for a playoff spot. Today’s core will be a few years older (and, hopefully, wiser) and the prospects acquired during the early stages of the rebuild should be claiming full-time NHL roles

If that’s not enough, Detroit’s contingent of veterans on long-term contracts will have seen their deals expire, with the only exception being Justin Abdelkader. 

Andreas Athanasiou of the Detroit Red Wings
Imagine a world where Andreas Athanasiou is one of the eldest Red Wings. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

In general, their trajectory should be pointing up. With that being said, let’s take a look at how the 2022-23 roster projects out at this point in time, excluding any free agents or high draft picks added between now and then.

And just a reminder, here’s what happened prior to the 2021-22 season before diving into the following season:

  • The contracts of Jonathan Bernier, Valtteri Filppula, Luke Glendening, Darren Helm, and Patrik Nemeth expired and the players were not retained.
  • Givani Smith was claimed in the Seattle expansion draft.

Now let’s move onto the 2022-23 Red Wings.

Related: State of the Red Wings’ Rebuild

Forwards

LW C RW
Anthony Mantha Dylan Larkin Filip Zadina
Andreas Athanasiou Joe Veleno Tyler Bertuzzi
Taro Hirose Michael Rasumssen Jonatan Berggren
Evgeny Svechnikov Christoffer Ehn Adam Erne
Justin Abdelkader Chase Pearson  

The 2022-23 Red Wings will look a lot like the previous year’s team, with one main exception. By 2022, Jonatan Berggren will push for an NHL job. The Swedish winger should have at least a cameo the season prior and step into a larger role during the 2022-23 campaign.

Jonatan Berggren of the Detroit Red Wings
Jonatan Berggren will bring some offensive flare and top-notch stickhandling to the Red Wings. (Photo by Dave Reginek/Getty Images)

With Berggren and possibly Otto Kivenmaki aboard, Detroit’s present-day organizational depth really starts to show – and this example doesn’t include potential free agent signings or top-10 draft picks between now and then. Having Evgeny Svechnikov on the fourth line would be a nice luxury, especially if he’s able to develop into a consistent producer

That depth up front means that the Red Wings could opt to deal for a position that could use an upgrade, such as a left-handed, top-four defenseman. That’s not to say a bottom-six winger could bring back a quality blueliner. The Red Wings just have a quality next-man-up plan in place in the event that a solid contributor is dealt to make the team better elsewhere.

Defense

LD RD
Dennis Cholowski Moritz Seider
Jared McIsaac Filip Hronek
Gustav Lindstrom Oliwer Kaski
  Madison Bowey

Yes, your eyes don’t deceive you – Danny DeKeyser is no longer on the roster. His contract is scheduled to expire prior to the 2022-23 season and the Red Wings will have young, more offensively inclined defensemen ready to step up. However, it wouldn’t be out of the question to re-up the then-32-year-old that summer for a lesser role. 

Danny DeKeyser of the Detroit Red Wings
Will the Red Wings re-sign Danny DeKeyser when his contract expires? (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

The Red Wings could also opt to bring in a solid free agent defenseman to pair with either Moritz Seider or Filip Hronek. Seth Jones, Hampus Lindholm, Morgan Rielly, and John Klingberg are all scheduled to hit the market during the summer of 2022, though they could easily be signed to extensions before then. 

But even without a free agent addition, the Red Wings look to have a strong blue line. Jared McIsaac will have joined the Red Wings full-time and Seider should be hitting his prime. Likewise, Hronek and Dennis Cholowski should be well-rounded, two-way defensemen for the Red Wings.

Goalies

  1. Filip Larsson
  2. TBD

At this point, neither Keith Petruzzelli nor Jesper Eliasson will be ready for NHL duties, though they’ll be close. To fill the void, the Red Wings will likely bring in a free agent to replace Jimmy Howard or Jonathan Bernier once their contracts expire and pair with Filip Larsson.

Summary

By the 2022-23 season, the Red Wings should be ready to do some damage in the playoffs with a roster consisting of mostly younger players. Apart from Abdelkader, Andreas Athanasiou would be the elder statesman on the team at the ripe old age of 28.

It’s possible that DeKeyser or Luke Glendening are brought back on short-term, low-risk contracts, but in general, the Red Wings are going to be young – and talented. Their depth and cap space should also give Steve Yzerman wiggle room to improve the team as well.

But are they a Stanley Cup contender? That would have to depend on the next couple drafts and Yzerman’s approach to free agency. There’s a solid foundation in place, though. 

How do you feel about the 2022-23 Detroit Red Wings? Share your thoughts below.

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