Over the next few weeks, Die By The Blade staffers will take an in-depth look at each of the other teams in the Atlantic Division as the Buffalo Sabres prepare for the 2021-22 season.
First up: the Detroit Red Wings!
Last Season’s Results: 19-27-10, 48 points (7th in the Discover Central Division)
Key Offseason Acquisitions: On July 22, the Red Wings acquired goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic from the Hurricanes in exchange for Jonathan Bernier and a third-round pick in the 2021 NHL Draft. Earlier in the summer, they swapped Richard Panik and a second-rounder for Nick Leddy from the Islanders.
The Red Wings also signed forward Pius Suter, who recorded 27 points in 55 games last season with Chicago. They re-signed a number of players including Jakub Vrana, Adam Erne, Filip Hronek (last season’s leading scorer) and Sam Gagner.
Key Offseason Losses: Darren Helm signed with the Avalanche, while Luke Glendening signed in Dallas. Former Sabres/Amerks player Alex Biega went to Toronto, while Dylan McIlrath signed with the Capitals.
NHL Contracts Signed: Dylan Larkin, Jakub Vrana, Tyler Bertuzzi, Pius Suter, Robby Fabbri, Adam Erne, Vladislav Namestnikov, Michael Rasmussen, Filip Zadina, Sam Gagner, Carter Rowney, Mitchell Stephens, Nick Leddy, Danny DeKeyser, Filip Hronek, Marc Staal, Troy Stecher, Jordan Oesterle, Gustav Lindstrom, Wyatt Newpower, Thomas Greiss, Alex Nedeljkovic
Season Outlook: While last season wasn’t a great one for the Red Wings, it was a not-insignificant improvement from the 2019-20 season. Despite it being such a shorter season, they actually amassed more points than they had in the previous season and improved from .275 to .429. (Obviously, .429 is nothing to write home about, but it’s still a significant improvement.)
They also had a very different season, playing in the division with teams like Carolina, Nashville, Florida and Dallas as opposed to their regular divisional opponents. With the temporary realignment and condensed schedule, while they still faced some tough opposition, they were spared teams like Boston, Pittsburgh and Washington.
Jeff Blashill returns as the team’s head coach, a position he has held since 2015.
As the folks at Wingin’ it in Motown wrote, the Red Wings are playing the long game here. Although the acquisition of Nedeljkovic is a good one, overall, the franchise didn’t make any huge moves over the offseason that will automatically catapult them to the top of the standings. It’s not an overnight fix; by and large, they’re still the same team as last season. While I wouldn’t necessarily take them lightly, with the likes of Hronek and Vrana on board, I still anticipate Detroit being in the bottom half of the league standings.
Games vs. Buffalo: November 6 (in BUF), November 27 (in DET), January 15 (in DET), January 17 (in BUF)