Few NHL teams have been as busy as the Detroit Red Wings in the off-season and their hard work could pay off in the months to come.
A new coach in Derek Lalonde has been hired and a whole host of what appear smart acquisitions added to give their young core opportunity to be competitive in 2022/23.
|What||NHL Season 2022/23|
|Where||USA and Canada|
|When||7th October 2022 - June 2023|
|How to watch||Premier Sports & bet365's Sports Live Streaming|
COL Avalanche +425, TOR Maple Leafs +800, FLA Panthers +900, TB Lightning +1000, CAR Hurricanes +1100
The Red Wings have missed the playoffs for six straight years but expect to take a big step forward in the new season under Lalonde and with several new players.
These include goalie Ville Husso, defensemen Ben Chiarot, Olli Maatta and Mark Pysyk, and forwards Andrew Copp, Dominik Kubalik and David Perron.
All will help to make the Red Wings far more competitive than they have been for many years, and signal that General Manager Steve Yzerman wants to take their long re-build to the next stage.
Detroit scored 227 goals last season as they finished sixth in the Atlantic Division (32-40-10), which ranked 25th in the league.
The additions of veterans Copp, Kubalik and Perron will significantly help and add depth scoring to a first line of Dylan Larkin (31 goals, 38 assists), Tyler Betruzzi (30 goals, 32 assists) and Lucas Raymond (23 goals, 34 assists) who were too heavily relied upon.
28-year-old Copp split last season between the Winnipeg Jets and New York Rangers scoring 21 goals, 32 assists while 34-year-old Perron rolled back the clock to deliver a near career-high 27 goals and 30 assists.
Both also made a big impact in the playoffs with Perron scoring nine goals, four assists in 12 games and Copp getting six goals, eight assists in 20 games.
Throw in 27-year-old Dominik Kubalik, who had 15 goals, 17 assists with the Chicago Blackhawks and Detroit's top nine now has a competitive look about it.
The Red Wings' defence needed re-enforcing after they conceded the third-highest number of goals in the NHL last season (312).
30-year-old Mark Pysyk was signed from the Dallas Stars, two-time cup champion 28-year-old Olli Maatta from the Los Angeles Kings and 31-year-old Ben Chiarot from the Montreal Canadiens and the trio will offer strong support to exciting youngsters Moritz Seider and Simon Edvinsson.
Meanwhile 21-year-old Seider was named the NHL's rookie of the year last season after amassing 50 points (seven goals, 43 assists) and his first-year success will look be emulated by 19-year-old Edvinsson who was Detroit's first round pick (sixth overall) from the 2021 draft.
The incoming trio plus the veteran experience of Copp, Perron and Kubalik will do a lot to supplement the pair of youngsters and help improve a penalty kill which ranked 32nd in the league at 73.8 percent and add to a powerplay which fired at a below average 16.3 per-cent which was 26th in the NHL.
Yzerman's highest praised addition is in net with Ville Husso arriving from the St. Louis Blues to form a partnership with Alex Nedeljkovic who was signed last summer from the Carolina Hurricanes.
Husso had a 25-7-6 record in 40 games (38 starts) last season with a .919 save-percentage and 2.56 goals-against-average (GAA).
Alex Nedeljkovic, a year younger, was 20-24-9 in 59 games (52 starts) for the Red Wings with a .901 save-percentage and 3.31 GAA. The pair will challenge each other for the starter position and with each showing considerable potential to earn that right, the Red Wings appear well set in net for the foreseeable future.
The 50-year-old Lalonde succeeds Jeff Blashill, who coached the Red Wings for seven seasons making the playoffs just once.
It will be the first time that Lalonde has held a head coaching position in the NHL but has over the past three seasons helped the Tampa Bay Lightning make the Stanley Cup Final on three consecutive occasions winning twice.
He appears primed and ready for the opportunity, and has been given many more tools to work with than Blashill had.
A marked improvement is expected, which brings with it pressure on a rookie coach, but Lalonde has been successful at every level and clearly has the confidence from management that he can lead a major turnaround.