Free Press sports writers make their predictions for the Detroit Red Wings’ 2022-23 season.
Best-case scenario: The Red Wings stay healthy and competitive, the newcomers jell, Lucas Raymond and Moritz Seider get even better, new coach Derek Lalonde pushes all the right buttons, Dominik Kubalik heats up, Jakub Vrana fills the net — everything falls into place — and the Wings are back in the playoffs, baby!
Worst-case scenario: Oh, man, do we have to do the worst case? After what we’ve seen with the Tigers and Lions? A crazy rash of injuries — that’s worst case. That’s what we have seen far too many times in the Motor City.
Breakout player: Filip Zadina has a fresh start with a new coach and new guys around him. Remember, he’s 22 years old!
Goals leader: “Oh, Canada!” Look who is heading across the border — that’s an easy one. Tyler Bertuzzi will be able to play in 10 games in Canada this season.
Will they make the playoffs? No. But they will make significant strides, play relevant games late and stay in the hunt until the final week of the regular season. It’s going to be a fun run.
Season preview:Red Wings ready to emerge from rebuild with confidence and fresh look
Best-case scenario: The Red Wings follow through on Lalonde’s puck-responsible philosophy, cut down on their mistakes and vastly improve their defense, with the help of key additions like Ben Chiarot, Ollii Määttä and Ville Husso to help reigning Calder Trophy winner Moritz Seider, and take a big leap by finishing with at least 80 points for the first time since 2015-16.
Worst-case scenario: The team struggles to adjust to their rookie coach’s philosophy, injuries hit at the wrong time and the defense fails to make any strides, as Hockeytown misses out on the playoffs for the seventh straight season.
Breakout player: Elmer Söderblom, the 6-foot-8 winger, will be a huge assist with his deft stick-handling and nimble skating to go with his Goliath-like presence anywhere in the offense zone, including net-front.
Goals leader: Tyler Bertuzzi with 40. Even missing about 10% of last season’s games because he wasn’t vaccinated, he finished with 30 goals, one shy of team leader Dylan Larkin. Canada has lifted its vaccination requirement for travelers, and with the help of a better supporting cast, Bertuzzi’s numbers should go up.
Will they make the playoffs: No, but they’ll be in the hunt late in the season. An improved roster will help, but Lalonde’s experience is a question. According to Tankathon, the Wings were tied for the NHL’s eighth-easiest schedule through Wednesday, which helps. But they’ll have to make a giant leap from a 74-point finish to around 100 points to claim one of two wild-card spots among 10 competing teams.
Helene St. James
Best-case scenario: They stay healthy and play competitively, and get big contributions from the core players.
Worst-case scenario: They get off to a bad start, lose key players to injuries, miss the playoffs and get pushed back in the draft lottery.
Breakout player: Elmer Söderblom. He’s 7 feet on skates, no goalie can see around him and he has good feet and soft hands around the net.
Goals leader: Jakub Vrana — he’s due for a big season after missing most of last season recovering from surgery.
Will they make the playoffs? I don’t think they’ll make the playoffs, and so there’s something to be said for finishing 11th from bottom — that way, they’d still have a shot at winning the lottery. (The teams that finish Nos. 12-16 can’t win the first overall pick because teams can only move up 10 spots.)
Best-case scenario: They win the Cup. I mean, that’s the best-case scenario, right? Oh, the editors meant “most realistic scenario that’s positive?” I got it. How about that the Wings stay in the playoff hunt until the end, see the youngsters get better and get a (relatively) full season from Jakub Vrana. Also: They show improved defense under Derek Lalonde.
Worst-case scenario: They struggle to adjust to Lalonde’s style and voice, they can’t stay healthy, the defense remains the same, they’re back in the lottery but get nowhere close to the top few picks.
Breakout player: The big guy, Elmer Söderblom, should be fun. And Vrana should be ready to make a splash. But Tyler Bertuzzi, if he can stay healthy, reminds us of what a full season from him looks like, and takes the next step.
Goals leader:Bertuzzi, with Vrana and Dylan Larkin on his heels.
Will they make the playoffs? No, but only because no team in Detroit is apparently allowed to make the playoffs and we’ve all got a little PTSD jumping too far ahead with the Tigers and Lions. But they will hang around the chase for a while.
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