Final Grades for the Detroit Red Wings

Detroit Red Wings

Getty Images Dylan Larkin and the Detroit Red Wings

Another year, another long summer break for the Detroit Red Wings. Time to post the final grades for the team. Be warned. There is no grading on a curve. Despite a thrilling final week of play, and a marked improvement over the prior season, the 2023-24 Detroit Red Wings once again failed to even make the playoffs. That’s eight straight years the Wings have not been to the playoffs–the longest drought in the team’s history.

The ‘Yzerplan’ Still a Work in Progress

The 2023-24 Red Wings finished with a record of 41-32-9. It was their most wins and most points since the 2015-16 season–the last time the Wings made it to the playoffs.

Red Wings Management: C+

Steve Yzerman is a Detroit Red Wings legend and an experienced general manager. The Wings have improved in his five years leading the team. But they have never been to the playoffs with Yzerman running the show. Yzerman’s two best draft picks, Lucas Raymon and Mo Seider, are top-notch, but they are both now restricted free agents. And will eat up significant cap sign to be re-signed. After so many years not making it to the playoffs, is the team finally ready for 2024-25 to be their breakout? Even Yzerman tempered expectations, stating “I hope we make the playoffs” next year.

As for coach Derek Lalonde, when crunch time hit, the team collapsed. He must shoulder much of the blame. The Wings had a nine point lead for the first wildcard spot on February 29, 2024. The team then lost eleven of their next fourteen, falling out of playoff contention. They never recovered. In his defense, the Wings showed significant improvement overall. The team went from 35 wins the previous season, and 80 points, to 41 wins and 91 points this season.

Red Wings defense: C- 

As we noted following Steve Yzerman’s April 19, 2024 press conference, Detroit finished a sorry 24th in goals against per game (3.33). Yzerman admitted as much, stating “collectively as a team, we have to get better (at defense), that’s the No. 1 thing.”

Youth the Future of the Detroit Red Wings

When Red Wings captain Dylan Larkin went down with an injury in March, the team–and fans–were quickly reminded of just how important he is to the team. Larkin missed eight games. The team, hot in a playoff battle, went 2-6, falling out of contention.

Red Wings offense: B

Dylan Larkin has proved his worth, again. In his 68 games this season, he had 69 points, including 33 goals and 36 assists. But Larkin is not and cannot be the sum total of the Wings offense. Patrick Kane proved why he is one of America’s greatest hockey players ever, but is likely going to another team next season. Lucas Raymon seems destined for stardom. Michael Rasmussen is solid and signed long-term. But the rest of the offense was, overall, fair at best.

Red Wings Goalies: C+

The trio of Alex Lyon, Ville Husso, and James Reimer, combined, proved average. Alex Lyon, in particular, proved a capable workhorse, finishing 21-18-5, with a 3.05 goals-against-average and a .904 save percentage. Husso, with a year remaining on his contract, proved inconsistent and expensive. Will he earn his $4.75 million next year? There’s no reason to believe he will.

Red Wings Youth: A-

If there’s hope for the Red Wings, in 2024-25 and beyond, it’s with the number of impressive younger players they have. Rookie defenseman Simon Edvinsson, along with Moritz Seider, and left winger Lucas Raymond, both finishing up their third year, are all potential emerging stars. There’s also goalie Sebastian Cossa, now playing with the team’s Grand Rapids franchise. Yzerman is often short on praise, at least in public. But at his recent press conference, he remarked he was encouraged by “the development of some of our younger players.”

CapFriendly projects the Wings have about $29 million in cap space to work with for the upcoming season. Seider and Raymond will eat up a chunk of that, and they’re worth it. With Seider and Raymond signed, plus Larkin, Edvinsson, Cossa and several others in Grand Rapids, the Wings may have a strong, long-term, fast and fun team. Fans can hope. Yzerman will need to manage cap space, maximize draft picks, and hopefully swindle a few fellow GMs. Detroit Red Wings fans deserve a playoff team, at the least. They’ve been patient enough.

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