Each day in the month of August we’ll be examining a different NHL team — from looking back at last season to discussing a player under pressure to identifying X-factors to asking questions about the future. Today we look at the Detroit Red Wings.
32-40-10, 74 points (7th in the Atlantic Division, 14th in the Eastern Conference)
Playoffs: Did not qualify
Ken Holland – general manager
2018-19 Season Review
The Detroit Red Wings did what we all expected them to do this past season.
They were never going to compete for a playoff spot, at least not without some divine intervention. A team in the midst of a rebuild, the Red Wings lived up to the low expectations set out for them. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Rebuilds aren’t about the win-loss record or the position in the standings. Instead, they focus on the bigger picture — long-term success with bouts of short-term growth to get them there.
And if we use that metric, and strip away the record and the fact that they’ve missed the playoffs now three years on the trot after making it 25 straight times before that, we can certainly find some positives.
Most importantly, the young core that will one day lead this team took another in terms of production.
Dylan Larkin, Andreas Athanasiou, Anthony Mantha and Tyler Bertuzzi all took steps in terms of production, with all four setting career highs in goals and at least tying career highs in points. All four of those guys are also 25 or under, so there’s plenty more of where that came from to come and where the optimism in Detroit lies.
And the next harvest from the farm could come as early as this season in the form of Filip Zadina and Taro Hirose, two more forwards with point-producing prowess. Michael Rasmussen should also compete for a spot.
Defenseman Filip Hronek, 21, should get a full-time gig with the Red Wings this season after finishing fourth in rookie defensemen scoring last season in just 46 games.
Of course, the biggest move made over the summer was the installation of Steve Yzerman as the team’s new general manager. Ken Holland, who had been the team’s GM since 1997, is now in Edmonton and it’s up to Yzerman to turn the rebuild into a perennial contender, much like the one he created in Tampa Bay.
This team isn’t expected to move the needle much further this coming season, which should get a pass, especially as Yzerman gets the lay of the land in the town spent his whole 22-year playing career in.
Their offseason moves have been few and mostly underwhelming with the return of Valtteri Filppula, and the addition of Patrik Nemeth on the blue line.
There’s still no word, either, on whether 38-year-old Niklas Kronwall will return for another season.