The Optimist’s Guide to the 2021-22 Detroit Red Wings

2021-22 detroit red wings

Author’s Note: This is my final piece with Last Word on Sports. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time here and I hope you’ve liked the words I’ve written about the Detroit Red Wings. If you’d like to stay in touch, please feel free to give me a follow at @RivardNHL on Twitter or reach out to me via email. Stay in touch — and let’s go Red Wings. 

Something’s different in the air in Hockeytown with the 2021-22 Detroit Red Wings. It’s hard to put a finger on it; from the rise of rookies like Lucas Raymond and Mortiz Seider to the take-n0-prisoners attitude of the team, this feels like the start of something big. Perhaps one day we’ll look back on this time period as the beginning of the next big thing. Or, maybe, we’ll see this as a year of almosts. After all, this could be another year that the Red Wings miss out on winning the draft lottery. If you tend to veer on the optimistic side, you will share the same sentiments as this piece. If not, I hope you’ll give the idea some thought.

No matter how ugly this season may (and likely will) get, it’s important to keep spirits high. When times get tough, having a reason to smile is key. That is the purpose of this Optimist’s Guide — a go-to pick-me-up when push comes to shove. Read on to discover a few reasons to watch the Red Wings this season as well as why (and how) the team’s on-ice record won’t matter.

2021-22 Detroit Red Wings Optimist’s Guide

Optimistic Reason #1: The NHL Rookies

This is a point that practically goes without saying. Seider and Raymond have made every Detroit game a near must-watch. From Seider’s veteran-like defensive poise to Raymond’s electrifying offense, there’s never a dull moment when these two are on the ice. The excitement is only further exacerbated when you account for their age. Raymond is 19 and Seider is 20. They’re nowhere near their peaks and will only get far, far better from here. In six NHL games, Raymond is already a third of the way to fellow draftee Alexis Lafreniere‘s rookie point total.

Optimistic Reason #2: The Stars of the Future

If Raymond and Seider excite you, you’ll love what’s to come. Simon Edvinsson, Detroit’s 2021 first-rounder, appears to be on a similar trajectory to Seider. He’s currently playing on a stacked Frolunda team in the Swedish Hockey League and is already showing his dominance. Edvinsson isn’t the only one tearing up the SHL — fellow prospects Albert Johansson, Theodor Niederbach, and Elmer Soderblom are completely running the show in Sweden.

What makes this even more exciting is the promise of players already in North America. Joe Veleno will almost certainly end the season with the Red Wings, and Jonatan Berggren will likely earn some time at the NHL level, as well. Donovan Sebrango, a third-round pick back in 2020, earned an early entry to the AHL. He’ll inevitably make a trip to Hockeytown at some point. There’s a lot to love about the stars of the future.

Optimistic Reason #3: The Stars of the Present

While it’s fun to think about the future, there’s no counting out the present. Tyler Bertuzzi is scoring above a point-per-game pace. Dylan Larkin is a premier two-way forward in the NHL. There’s never a dull moment when Robby Fabbri is on the ice. Even Filip Zadina is looking ready to take the next big step. All this excitement surrounding the team’s top-six doesn’t even account for a major name in Detroit: Jakub Vrana. The forward will return from injured reserve in January, and when he does, this team will have three consistent lines of offensive threats.

On the backend, the defense is looking the best it has in years. Gustav Lindstrom has had an impressive start to the season, beating Troy Stecher out of a regular spot in the lineup. Marc Staal appears to have entered a renaissance. Nick Leddy is everything he’s been advertised as and more. Once players like Edvinsson and Johansson help to round out this lineup, Detroit’s defense will be a force to reckon with in the NHL.

Optimistic Reason #4: The Goaltending

Sure, Thomas Greiss is a pending unrestricted free agent. Yes, he’s in his mid-30s. Despite this, he’s been an outstanding presence in the net nearly every night in Detroit. For goaltender-starved teams like the Toronto Maple Leafs, he could make an intriguing deadline deal. With the way Alex Nedeljkovic has played, it seems safe to assume that this will be Greiss’s last (or second-to-last) season in Detroit. Nedeljkovic had a rocky start at first but quickly rounded into form, earning his first win of the season against the Chicago Blackhawks this week.

Nedeljkovic has the potential to pan out as a bona fide starter. If he does, one of the biggest anxieties for Red Wings fans will be solved. If not, goaltending prospect Sebastian Cossa has lived up to every bit of kudos he’s earned. He’ll inevitably start between the pipes in Detroit — the question is when.

Optimistic Reason #5: This is Hockeytown

Whether you’ve grown up in the Detroit area or are a fan anywhere else, you, reader, embody the heart and soul of Hockeytown. Through thick and thin, you’re there to support the 2021-22 Detroit Red Wings. From contender to rebuilder, your words and support make this fanbase what it is — an incredible community of individuals all connected through their love of a team. You are what makes Hockeytown what it is. Without you, this whole thing wouldn’t be possible. No matter what happens this season — whether it’s a pleasant surprise or a complete meltdown — just remember to keep your heads up. Time will tell the impact this season has on the team. It’s up to you to make it a positive one.

Main Photo: Embed from Getty Images

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