Dylan Larkin will do his best to carry a team largely lacking in talent in the 2019/20 season. Free use photo from wikimedia commons.

Previous Atlantic Division previews include the Tampa Bay Lightning, Toronto Maple Leafs, Boston Bruins, Florida Panthers, Buffalo Sabres, and Montreal Canadiens. If you missed any of those previews, be sure to go back and check them out. We continue moving through the Atlantic Division by checking out the Detroit Red Wings today.

The Red Wings come into the 2019-2020 season with some of the lowest expectations of any team in the league. After setting an NHL record for consecutive playoff performances, the Wings are now a rebuilding franchise. New General Manager Steve Yzerman has his work cut out from him, as his roster is full of terrible veteran contracts and not much skill. The Wings are expected to be one of the worst teams in the league and completely out of the playoff picture. Let’s take a look at the Wings roster for the 2019-2020 season.

Goalies

  1. Jimmy Howard
  2. Jonathan Bernier
  3. Calvin Pickard
  4. Filip Larsson
  5. Kaden Fulcher

Long-time goalie Jimmy Howard returns as the Wings’ starter. Howard signed a one year deal at the end of last season and heads into the season as the undisputed starter. At 35, Howard is reaching the twilight of his career. While the Wings may choose to continue to hold on to Howard, it wouldn’t be surprising if he was a trade chip for Steve Yzerman come trade deadline.

Bernier returns as Howard’s backup, though he is likely to play close to 40 games this season. Bernier struggled a bit last season, but many of his problems were a result of playing in front of a porous defense. He has two years left on his contract and may find himself in the starter position when and if Howard is moved.

Calvin Pickard comes in as third on the depth chart. Pickard has played some NHL games, though he has been unable to take the reins of multiple backup positions over the years. He has proven to be a solid AHL starter and will likely be so again for Grand Rapids in the AHL. He will be the first call-up if injury hits or a trade happens.

Larsson and Fulcher are the youngsters of the bunch but are unlikely to spend anytime in the NHL even if there are injuries. The Wings seemingly have no heir apparent to the goaltending throne. This is an area that Steve Yzerman will need to dip resources into over the next few seasons.

Defense

  1. Fil Hronek
  2. Danny DeKeyser
  3. Mike Green
  4. Dennis Cholowski
  5. Patrik Nemeth
  6. Trevor Daley
  7. Madison Bowey
  8. Jonathan Ericsson
  9. Brian Lashoff
  10. Joe Hickets
  11. Moritz Seider
  12. Gustav Lidstrom

The Wings defense is porous at best and in desperate need of an upgrade. Hronek showed some promise in his rookie season and is likely the best of the bunch. He plays a solid two-way game and has an offensive slant. He could easily see first pairing minutes next year, whether he is ready or not.

Danny DeKeyser usually plays the most minutes on the back end and is set to do so again this season. He doesn’t have great underlying numbers and is more of the de facto minute muncher due to lack of skill available. DeKeyser will be counted on in all situations once again. Mike Green has struggled with injuries and will likely do so again this year. He will also be a trade chip for Steve Yzerman if he remains healthy, as he is on an expiring contract.

There is a chance that Dennis Cholowski won’t make the starting lineup for the Wings. However, he survived as a 20 year old for most of last season at the NHL level. He is an elite skater and could fill in as a top four next year. Patrik Nemeth signed a two-year contract in the offseason and will play big minutes also. Nemeth is purely a defensive specialist and penalty killer.

Trevor Daley struggled mightily last season due to age decline and injury. He is in the last year of his contract, and Yzerman may look for a way to find him somewhere else to play. However, due to lack of depth, he too will likely play minutes above what he is capable of at this point in his career.

Bowey and long-time veteran Ericsson will both compete for jobs this season. Bowey struggled to stick in the Capitals lineup last year but found a home on the Wings after a trade. He has shown flashes of offensive brilliance, and he plays a high risk, high reward game. Bowey will be given an opportunity to succeed. Ericsson was never a fast skater to begin with, and he has lost a step at this point in his career. At over a four million dollar cap hit, Yzerman will be unlikely to find any takers for his contract. He will likely play for the Wings next year for this reason, whether he is the most skilled or not.

Moritz Seider, the Wings surprise first rounder from last year, may get a look to start the season. Seider played against men in Germany’s top league last year, and he looked good in the Traverse City Rookie Tournament. He likely needs some seasoning, but he could see minutes early on, or at the end of the season. Overall, the Wings defense is a bit of a mess and is their biggest hole heading into the season.

Forwards

LW C RW
1. Anthony Mantha 1.Dylan Larkin 1. Tyler Bertuzzi
2. Andreas Athanasiou 2. Frans Nielsen 2. Filip Zadina
3. Taro Hirose 3. Val Filppula 3. Michael Rasmussen
4. Adam Erne 4. Joe Veleno 4. Darren Helm
5. Evgeny Svechnikov 5. Luke Glendening 5. Ryan Kuffner
6. Justin Abdelkader 6. Dominic Turgeon 6. Giovani Smith

Even though the Wings’ forward groups are lacking in overall offensive firepower, they do have some bright spots. Center Dylan Larkin has emerged as a true number one center and will likely see an offensive upswing again next season. Anthony Mantha had a career year last season and could also take another step forward. He should get around 25 goals next season. Tyler Bertuzzi had an excellent first full season on the wings. Bertuzzi brings a strong two-way game and is a tenacious forechecker. He should get around 50 points this season.

Heading up the second line, Andreas Athanasiou surprised many with 30 goals last season and he could repeat easily enough. He is one of the most electric players in the league and could finish with similar numbers to last season.

Outside of this group, much of the rest of the roster is a wild card. Nielsen and Filppula are two veterans who always manage around 35-40 points a season. Both players are due for a regression, but so far, father time has been held at bay. They may take a bit of a step back, but due to lack of roster depth, both players should play a middle six role.

Rookie Filip Zadina struggled at times in the AHL last season as an 18-year old, but did manage a few games in the NHL at the end of last season. He didn’t look out of place and the Wings are desperate for scoring. He may earn a spot and will be given the opportunity. Taro Hirose, another rookie, managed seven points in ten games last season. He is unlikely to produce at that pace next season, but he may start the year as a third line winger. Time will tell what type of player he is, though he likely projects a bottom six forward at the NHL level.

Fellow rookie Joe Veleno may find himself in a spot in the lineup also, at least to start the year. Veleno tore up the QMJHL last year, and the Traverse City Rookie Tournament also. He has nothing left to prove at the major junior level and could be an option.

Evgeny Svechnikov missed all of last season with an injury. Svechnikov is a former first rounder from 2015, but has struggled at the pro level. He too will be given an opportunity to earn a spot. Michael Rasmussen made the Wings as a 19 year old and will play a middle six role next season. Rasmussen was a high draft pick, but many within the scouting community think he is limited offensively. He may finish around thirty points, but don’t expect a huge jump in production.

Wings’ captain Justin Abdelkader has had a major regression as of late. Due to contract and leadership, he likely has a spot though. Otherwise, the likes of veterans Darren Helm, De La Rose, Glendening, and newcomer Adam Erne will fight for bottom six minutes. Overall, outside of the Wings’ top four forwards, there are a lot of question marks here. If the Red Wings decide to go the youth route, there could be some exciting players to watch. However, don’t expect much from this group in a loaded Atlantic Division.

Bottom Line

Overall, Red Wings fans are in for a long season. They have some good, young pieces. However, the overall picture is bleak. Wings fans can hope with a loaded 2020 draft that the team uses the season to show off assets and make some trades so to better stock their prospect cupboard. The Red Wings will be one of the worst once again in 2019-2020.