The Detroit Red Wings will open the 2021-22 season on Thursday, Oct. 14, at home against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Detroit made several changes in the offseason with a list of key acquisitions in an effort to improve all areas of the game -- scoring, defense and goaltending. This is a team in rebuild mode, but the future screams potential.
Key offseason acquisitions:
- Center Pius Suter: The Red Wings signed Suter in July to a two-year contract. Suter, 25, is a native of Switzerland where he played several seasons with Zurich SC of the Swiss-A pro league. Then he signed as an undrafted free agent last year with the Chicago Blackhawks. He scored 14 goals and 13 assists for 27 points in 55 games with the Blackhawks. The hope is he brings that scoring ability to the Red Wings, who desperately need goals.
- Defenseman Nick Leddy: Leddy, 30, was acquired in July through a trade with the New York Islanders before the draft. Leddy had 31 points in 56 games played with the Islanders this past season. He had another 6 points in 19 playoff games as he helped the Islanders make another deep playoff run. He averaged 21:35 minutes of ice time this past season, which is slightly above his career average of 20:33. He’s expected to help lead this defense and to have a real impact on the power play.
- Goalie Alex Nedeljkovic: The Red Wings struck another pre-draft trade with the Carolina Hurricanes that netted Nedeljkovic. He then signed a two-year contract with Detroit. The Red Wings sent the rights to unrestricted free agent goalie Jonathan Bernier, 32, and a third-round pick in this year’s draft to the Hurricanes. Nedeljkovic, 25, became a restricted free agent at the end of the 2020-21 season and reportedly sought more money with Carolina, but Steve Yzerman was able to get him for $3 million against the cap for two seasons. He now comes to Detroit where he will team up with 35-year-old Thomas Greiss as Detroit’s goalie tandem. I think it’s clear Nedeljkovic is expected to be 1-A (the starter).
- Center Mitchell Stephens: With the departure of Luke Glendening, the Red Wings added Stephens through a trade with Tampa to help fill the void of 3d-or-4th-line center. Stephens, 24, originally was drafted by Yzerman’s Lightning in 2015 -- 33rd overall in the 2nd round. He played just seven games with the Lightning this past year, spending a large portion of the season injured. He returned healthy to Tampa’s AHL affiliate at the end of the season.
Guessing the lineup:
*Lucas Raymond might make the opening night lineup, but I’m not sure he will spend his entire season up in the NHL. Let’s see how it goes. Obviously we’re all very eager to see him make an impact.
*Moritz Seider went to camp and the preseason to prove he belongs in the NHL. I can’t imagine him not being in this lineup.
- Tyler Bertuzzi will miss at least nine games in Canada due to the country’s COVID protocols for unvaccinated players. I don’t know if that affects his position on this team, but we shall see.
- Joe Veleno might not start the season in Detroit, but I think we should expect to see him in a role later in the campaign.
- Jordan Oesterle, who signed with Detroit in July, is apparently the 7th defenseman right now.
- Forward Carter Rowney, who signed in September, also has potential to be in this lineup.
- Bobby Ryan? He was on a professional tryout. It’s unclear if he is signing a contract.