Detroit Red Wings Preseason Preview

Red Wings preseason preview featuring Moritz Seider

If you blinked too fast, you probably missed the NHL Prospect Tournament. The short-lived three-game series saw the Detroit Red Wings go 1-2, with numerous highlights from names like Joe Veleno and Lucas Raymond. In just a little over a week’s time, the Red Wings will gear up to start the preseason against the Chicago Blackhawks. This series will give the front office and fans alike a better picture of who fits with the current roster. From newcomers to familiar faces, the preseason is certain to be full of surprise.

Previewing the Detroit Red Wings Preseason

The preseason is the answer to the questions of many. From roster potential to lineup combinations, there’s a lot that springs up in the games leading up to the opening night. This year in particular has a slew of storylines in the works – particularly on the prospect front. Quite a few question marks have sprouted following the Prospect Tournament. Who will make the opening night roster? What’s to be done about the defence? Where do newcomers fit in the picture? Every time a question is answered, two more sprout up in its place.

With that said, let’s do our best to tackle this veritable hockey hydra.

Prospects Fighting for Roster Spots

If the Red Wings preseason is going to include anything, it’s a battle for roster spots. Every season, at least one to two prospects make the team. Last season saw Filip Zadina and Mattias Brome make the full-time jump, with Givani Smith joining later. One name in particular was omitted from the Prospect Tournament: Moritz Seider. The SHL Defenceman of the Year has played two professional seasons: one in the AHL, and one in the SHL. Comments from head coach Jeff Blashill indicate that he is expected to make the team on opening night.

Another fresh face may join Seider on the roster this season: 2020 fourth-overall pick Lucas Raymond. The Swedish forward excelled in the Prospect Tournament, picking up three goals in two games. He entered North America with the goal of making the NHL roster, and, if he can keep up his production through the preseason, he just might get his wish. Finding a spot for him on the roster, however, might be a tougher battle.

Red Wings Preseason Prospect Expectations

Assuming Raymond makes the team, it might be tough to find a home for him. In order to properly develop his skills, Raymond needs top-six minutes. Unfortunately, Detroit is ample in top-six wingers. Jakub Vrana, Tyler Bertuzzi, Robby Fabbri, and Filip Zadina make up the team’s wings. Raymond would need to outperform one of the four in order to earn a spot – and as far as “odd men out” go, Fabbri might be the one that gets bumped down. Fabbri has performed very well, but his history of injuries may warrant additional caution with his deployment.

This roster question is further complicated when you factor in players like Joe Veleno and Jonatan Berggren. It’s hard to imagine Berggren, Seider, Raymond, and Veleno will all make the roster on opening night, but they’ll likely earn a few reps throughout the season. Last season, Valtteri Filppula and Frans Nielsen were the odd men out. This season’s openings may depend entirely on trades and injuries. Michael Rasmussen earned a spot after Fabbri was injured. It’s entirely possible that Veleno makes the roster if an injury forces a spot open.

The Odd Man Out on Defence

General manager Steve Yzerman has his work cut out for him on the defence. Eight names headline the current corps: Danny DeKeyser, Filip Hronek, Marc Staal, Troy Stecher, Moritz Seider, Nick Leddy, Jordan Oesterle, and Gustav Lindstrom. At least one of the eight will see himself demoted or traded before the start of the season. At first glimpse, Gustav Lindstrom appears to be the most likely candidate. Still, it’s important to note that he was left protected over Troy Stecher in the Seattle Kraken expansion draft. Additionally, Lindstrom is no longer waiver-exempt; if he’s demoted, 31 other teams have a chance to claim him.

Something has to change if Seider makes the roster. Danny DeKeyser has one year left on his contract and was waived twice last season. It’s hard to imagine he returns to form following his back injury in 2019-20. Still, the defenceman plays some of the toughest minutes for the Red Wings on the top pairing. It’s not too late for a comeback. But will DeKeyser find that comeback in Detroit, or with another organization?

Red Wings Preseason Expectations

The Red Wings have taken a formulaic approach to the preseason. Showcase talent, let the youth shine, and then finish the series off with a (near) complete roster. Tough decisions are abound with the creation of an NHL roster. It could mean a difficult demotion for a prospect, or a veteran getting edged out of his spot on the roster. No matter what happens, it’s important to keep expectations realistic. There’s almost a zero-percent chance that Veleno, Berggren, Raymond, and Seider make the roster on opening night. In fact, the Red Wings might employ an ultra-conservative approach and have everyone but Seider start in Grand Rapids to see how they perform off the bat.

In an ideal world, the solution lies somewhere in the middle of these two scenarios. The best bet is to assume that at least one forward makes the roster alongside Seider. Who that will be and what capacity it’ll be in will all depend on how they perform during the preseason.

The Detroit Red Wings play their first preseason game against the Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday, September 29th at 8:30 PM EST.

Main Photo: Embed from Getty Images

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