Detroit Red Wings 2020-21 NHL season preview

Detroit Red Wings Preview

The 2020-21 NHL season is almost here so it’s time to preview all 31 teams. Over the next few weeks we’ll be looking at how the offseason affected each team, the most interesting people in the organization, and the best- and worst-case scenarios. Today, we look at the Detroit Red Wings.

Detroit Red Wings 2019-20 Rewind

Record: 17-49-5 (39 points); Eighth place in Atlantic Division; 16th place in Eastern Conference

Leading Scorers: Tyler Bertuzzi (21 goals), Dylan Larkin (53 points)

Everybody knew the 2019-20 season was going to be a long one for the Red Wings, but I am not sure anyone had any idea it was going to be as difficult as it was. As general manager Steve Yzerman continued to tear the team down in order to rebuild it from from the ground up, the Red Wings had one of the worst single season performances in franchise history and were by far the worst team in the league, finishing 23 points behind the next worst team (the Ottawa Senators).

When you have a season like that, there are not many positives and that continued for the Red Wings into the offseason when even the draft lottery balls were against them. It was there that the Red Wings walked away with the No. 4 overall pick (as far as they could have fallen given their record) instead of a much-needed top-two pick (or even No. 1 overall pick). The rebuild is still very much underway this season.


Vladislav Namestnikov (free agency), Bobby Ryan (free agency), Thomas Greiss (free agency), Marc Staal (trade), Christian Djoos (waivers), Troy Stecher (free agency), Jon Merril (free agency)


Jimmy Howard, Trevor Daley, Justin Abdelkader, Jonathan Ericsson, Madison Bowey, Christian Ehn, Dmitryo Timashov

Red Wings Filip Zadina
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3 Most Interesting Detroit Red Wings

Filip ZadinaThe No. 6 overall pick from 2018, Zadina is not the best player on the Red Wings roster (that honor currently belongs to Dylan Larkin or Anthony Mantha), but he might be the most intriguing because he still brings so much potential as a goal-scorer. When he was drafted he was regarded as one of the top natural goal scorers in his class. He has only appeared in 37 NHL games to this point scoring nine goals. But eight of those goals came in just 27 games during the 2019-20 season (which was accompanied by nine goals in 21 games at the AHL level) which is close to a 25-goal pace over 82 games. That is promising production for a 20-year-old in his first real taste of NHL action.

[Related: ProHockeyTalk’s 2020 NHL Free Agency Tracker]

Can he take another step forward this season and show that he can be counted on to be one of the cornerstone pieces of this rebuild?

• Anthony Mantha. He is one of the few players on the roster right now that looks like they belong as a significant piece to a contending roster. Over the past three seasons he has averaged 28 goals per 82 games played while also posting fantastic possession numbers (better than a 54 percent shot attempt share) for a team that gets absolutely dominated in that category.

The only thing that has kept him back? Injuries that have limited him to just 110 out of a possible 152 games. If he could ever play a full 82-game season (and obviously that will not happen this year, either) 30-plus goals are not out of the question.

He is just starting a four-year, $22.8 million contract this season that could turn out to be a team bargain if he continues on the path he has shown the past three seasons.

Robby Fabbri. When he first entered the NHL back in 2015, Fabbri looked like he had a chance to be a significant contributor for the St. Louis Blues. The injuries started, and before anyone knew it he had missed significant parts of three seasons (including a full season during the 2017-18 season) and his future was very much in doubt. He worked his way back into the lineup for the 2019-20 season, but simply ended up losing out on a numbers game on a Stanley Cup contender and was traded to Detroit.

[MORE: 2021 NHL schedule notes: Stats, oddities, fuel for nasty rivalries]

So far, it looks like a big win for the Red Wings.

Fabbri was one of the very few bright spots for the Red Wings this past season, scoring 14 goals (with 17 assists) in his 52 games with the team. He is signed through the end of next season at $2.9 million per season and if he can stay healthy and build on his 2019-20 performance the Red Wings may have found themselves a very useful player that might have a chance to be a part of the next good Red Wings team.

Best-Case Scenario

It is almost impossible to see a playoff berth here, so the best case for the Red Wings is that they show improvement and see young players continue to develop and progress. Players like Zadina, Mantha, Fabri, Filip Hronek.

[Related: Red Wings have clean slate, chance for bold moves next season]

The other thing that would be beneficial is if some of these low-cost free agent signings perform well enough to boost their trade value at the trade deadline. Players like Bobby Ryan, Troy Stecher, Jon Merrill, and Vladislav Namestnikov. No one expects them to be long-term answers. But if they can help the Red Wings get through the season and play well enough to bring back some potential long-term assets, it all works out for everybody (including the veteran players, who would then be part of a contender).

The other best case scenario? A little bit of draft lottery luck.

Worst-Case Scenario

If you enter the season assuming they are going to miss the playoffs again your expectations should be within reason. So what would be a worse case scenario here? Young players not progressing. Really, that is what this season should be about. Who is going to show themselves to be players worth building around. If you do not see progress from the likes of Zadina, Hronek, and Mantha, and you still lose a lot of games, it is going to be difficult to build any sort of optimism.

It would also be bad news if they end up moving back in the draft lottery again.

Pointsbet – Detroit Red Wings Stanley Cup odds

Pointsbet Stanley Cup odds: Red Wings +20000. (PointsBet is our Official Sports Betting Partner and we may receive compensation if you place a bet on PointsBet for the first time after clicking our links.)

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

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    Blue Jackets’ Patrik Laine out 2-4 weeks with triceps injury

    Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

    COLUMBUS, Ohio — Columbus Blue Jackets forward Patrik Laine is out 2-4 weeks after straining a triceps muscle in practice, yet another blow to the last-place team in the NHL that has been hampered by injuries all season.

    The Blue Jackets announced Laine’s absence before their home game against the New York Islanders.

    They already have 454 man-games lost to injury, one of the highest numbers in the league, and have a record of 22-41-7.

    Laine missed two separate stints with elbow and ankle injuries in the fall. The 24-year-old Finn is the team’s second-leading scorer with 52 points in 55 games.

    Columbus has been top defenseman Zach Werenski since November because of a torn labrum and separated shoulder. Forward Sean Kuraly recently went on injured reserve with a strained left oblique muscle that will likely keep him out the rest of the season.

    Tortorella earns 700th career win, Flyers top Wild 5-4

    flyers wild
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    PHILADELPHIA — John Tortorella needed one word to sum up if 700 career wins meant anything to the Flyers coach.


    OK, then. Good thing the brusque Stanley Cup winner isn’t paid by the word.

    James van Riemsdyk scored the only goal in a shootout, and Philadelphia beat the Minnesota Wild 5-4 on Thursday night for Tortorella’s 700th victory.

    Tortorella is 700-573-181 in 1,454 games as an NHL head coach. His 700 wins rank 12th in NHL history and his career games rank ninth in NHL history. He led Tampa Bay to the Stanley Cup in 2004. In his first season coaching the Flyers, Tortorella joined Peter Laviolette as the second American-born coach to win 700 games.

    “I think the culture’s kind of changed around here,” Flyers forward Joel Farabee said. “I think he’s done a really good job of keeping the group together.”

    Farabee, Scott Laughton, Rasmus Ristolainen and Tyson Foerster scored for Philadelphia. The Flyers have two straight games for the first time since Jan. 9-14 when they won three straight. Yeah, it’s been that kind of season.

    “Farabee’s starting to pop, he’s looking real good. Tyson is looking real good,” Flyers defenseman Tony DeAngelo said. “This is all about laying the foundation for next year but we get a lot of money to do this job. It’s something we love, so we’re gonna go out and give it our best every night.”

    Matt Boldy had two goals for the Wild, and Oskar Sundqvist and Marcus Foligno also scored.

    “We weren’t very good. They were good,” Wild coach Dean Evason said. “We knew they were playing well, they played well tonight. We were loose. We were not firm, turnovers, it didn’t look like our hockey club.”

    The Flyers and Wild were tied 1-all at the end of the first period, 3-3 at the end of the second and 4-4 headed into OT.

    The rebuilding Flyers have been plucky of late. They had won two of three coming into the game, with the lone loss in overtime. They showed some of that grit in the final two periods, scoring late tying goals.

    “It’s a credit to their group, to their coaching staff, that they’ve got them playing the right way,” Evason said.

    Boldy poked a backhander past Carter Hart with 6:28 left for a 4-3 lead. The Flyers, playing more for the No. 1 pick and for pride, tied the game on Foerster’s second goal of the season.

    Farabee tipped in Cam York’s shot early in the second for a 2-1 lead.

    The Wild got going when Boldy ripped one top shelf past Hart for his 24th goal of the season that tied the game 2-all. Foligno scored his seventh goal for the 3-2 lead.

    Ristolainen buried a hard slapper from the blue line on the power play for the tying goal with 23 seconds left in the second.

    “I think it’s good to try to lay this foundation, kind of get ready for next year. You see guys getting confidence,” DeAngelo said.

    The Flyers only played ahead in the first period.

    Laughton scored off the rush for his 17th goal of the season and a 1-0 lead. Sundqvist celebrated his birthday with a deflection for the tying goal with 3:24 left in the period.

    The Flyers had been one of the lowest-scoring teams in the NHL until the start of this seven-game homestand (3-2 so far). They have scored at least three goals in every game and at least four in the last four.

    “We have definitely gotten to the net better,” Tortorella said. “We have spent a lot of time on the ice and with tape as far as getting to that area.”


    Wild: Host Chicago on Saturday.

    Flyers: Host Detroit on Saturday.

    Crosby reaches 30-goal mark, Penguins knock off Avalanche 5-2

    Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

    DENVER – Sidney Crosby wasn’t even aware of reaching yet another milestone. He’s simply locked in on helping the Pittsburgh Penguins make a 17th straight postseason appearance.

    Jeff Carter had a pair of goals, Crosby scored on a nifty backhand shot in the second period to reach the 30-goal mark for an 11th season and the Penguins beat the Colorado Avalanche 5-2.

    Crosby moved into a tie with Hall-of-Fame center Mario Lemieux for the most 30-goal seasons in Penguins history. Another milestone reached – it came as news to him.

    “I think the most important thing for me is just try to be consistent and if that reflects that great,” said Crosby, who turns 36 in August.

    Even more, Crosby’s the first player in league history to post a 30-goal campaign at 18 years old and again when he was 35-plus, according to NHL Stats.

    “It means I’ve been in the league for a while,” Crosby cracked. “That’s been the thing that’s driven me since since I got into the league – in your first year, you want to prove that you belong. Even at 35, I still think you want to prove you belong, because it is a younger league.”

    Jake Guentzel also scored and Bryan Rust added an empty-net goal for the Penguins, who snapped a four-game slide and moved back into a wild-card spot in the East.

    “It’s definitely a big one for us, for sure,” Guentzel said. “Defending champs, coming to their building, you know how good they are. Top to bottom, we defended hard and that’s what we have to do at this time of the year.”

    Pittsburgh goaltender Tristan Jarry stopped 28 shots in improving to 11-4 this season against teams from the Western Conference.

    J.T. Compher and Devon Toews had goals for the Avalanche, whose six-game winning streak was halted. Nathan MacKinnon had an assist to extend his home points streak to 18 games.

    It was a missed opportunity for Colorado, which could’ve pulled into a three-way tie with Dallas and Minnesota in the Central Division with a victory.

    “We knew they were going to play with urgency,” Colorado coach Jared Bednar said. “But I didn’t feel like there was any reason why we couldn’t, either. … We didn’t get it done. Hopefully we get another one.”

    Alexandar Georgiev made 40 saves, including several critical ones in a second period controlled by the Penguins, who outshot the Avalanche by a 21-9 margin. It could’ve been more than a 3-1 deficit heading into the third period.

    Toews’ power-play goal made it 3-2 with 9:32 remaining. But Carter wrapped up the win with his first multigoal game in the regular season since Jan. 11, 2022.

    “I’m thrilled for him. We’re all thrilled,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said of Carter. “He cares about the Penguins. He wants to win, and he wants to contribute in helping us win so we couldn’t be happier for him.”


    Bednar was appreciative of the three-year extension he signed Tuesday that goes through the 2026-27 season. In his seventh season, he’s the third-longest tenured coach in the NHL behind Tampa Bay’s Jon Cooper (March 2013) and Sullivan (December 2015).

    “It’s not a forgiving league or sport, for the most part, but obviously that’s part of the reason why I’m so grateful and thankful,” Bednar said. “Because there were times over my tenure that got a little hairy and management could have made another decision. But obviously they didn’t.”


    Avalanche D Cale Makar missed a second straight game with a lower body injury. “I still have him as day-to-day,” Bednar said. … F Darren Helm returned after missing 64 of 69 games this season with a lower-body injury. … Penguins D Jeff Petry (upper body) skated in the morning but sat out his third straight game. … The Penguins are 11-1 against the Central Division this season. … Penguins standout Evgeni Malkin assisted on Guentzel’s goal to reach the 50-assist mark for a seventh time in his career.


    Penguins: At Dallas on Thursday night.

    Avalanche: Host Arizona on Friday night.

    Report: Blackhawks will not wear Pride-themed jerseys

    Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

    CHICAGO – The Chicago Blackhawks will not wear Pride-themed warmup jerseys before Sunday’s Pride Night game against Vancouver because of security concerns involving a Russian law that expands restrictions on activities seen as promoting LGBTQ rights in the country.

    The decision was made by the NHL organization following discussions with security officials within and outside the franchise, according to a person familiar with the situation who spoke to the AP on Wednesday on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the move.

    The Blackhawks have worn Pride warmup jerseys previously and donned special warmup jerseys on some other themed nights this season. There had been ongoing conversations about a Pride jersey with the players, according to the person who talked to the AP, but the organization made the decision to hold Pride Night without the jerseys this year.

    Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law in December that significantly expands restrictions on activities seen as promoting LGBTQ rights in the country. Chicago defenseman Nikita Zaitsev is a Moscow native, and there are other players with family in Russia or other connections to the country.

    The decision by the Blackhawks comes after San Jose Sharks goalie James Reimer and Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov refused to take part in warmups with Pride-themed jerseys. The New York Rangers opted not to wear Pride jerseys or use Pride stick tape as part of their night in January despite previously advertising that plan.

    Russians Nikolai Knyzhov and Alexander Barabanov wore the Pride-themed jerseys for the Sharks on Saturday.

    While Chicago will go without Pride warmup jerseys this year, the team has planned a variety of activities in conjunction with Sunday’s game. DJs from the LGBTQ community will play before the game and during an intermission, and the Chicago Gay Men’s Chorus also is slated to perform. There also are plans to highlight a couple of area businesses with ties to the LGBTQ community.