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Detroit Red Wings Look Better; But They Have a Long Term Plan

by Glenn Kaplan
by Glenn Kaplan

At the beginning of the season, the Detroit Red Wings were one of the worst teams in the NHL. A lot of fans wanted Head Coach Jeff Blashill fired, but he has fixed up a lot of things lately. Detroit isn't in a playoff spot at this point in the season, but they are playing a lot better. The Red Wings record so far this season is 15-16-5 with 35 points.

They sit in sixth place in an improved Central Division. Detroit is only six points back of the Montreal Canadiens for the second wild card spot in the east. They have scored 104 goals and given up 119 goals so far this season.

The Detroit Red Wings are a relatively young team and they are still rebuilding. Although it would be a good thing for this franchise to make it to the playoffs for the first time in three season, they have a long term goal and that is to rebuild this team and compete for championships in years to come.

Making the playoffs wouldn't be the worst thing in the world for this team because they would taste a playoff atmosphere. However, Detroit would probably get clobbered in the first-round against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Tampa Bay has ousted them the last two times the Detroit Red Wings made it to the postseason.

Dylan Larkin, Andreas Athanasiou, Tyler Bertuzzi, Anthony Mantha, Dennis Cholowski, and Michael Rasmussen are some of the players on this team that is 25 years old or younger. Larkin leads the team with 34 points (15 goals and 19 assists) so far this season. His plus/minus is -1. Anthansiou has scored 11 goals and recorded nine assists so far this season. His plus/minus is -1. Bertuzzi has scored nine goals and recorded 10 assists so far this season. His plus/minus is even.

Mantha has scored nine goals and recorded five assists so far this season. His plus/minus is -8. Cholowski has scored six goals and recorded eight assists so far this season. His plus/minus is -12. Rasmussen has scored five goals and recorded five assists so far this season. His plus/minus is -3.

Jimmy Howard has been the number one goalie for Detroit. His record is 10-7-4 with a .922 save percentage and a 2.69 GAA. He is 35 years old and Howard will also be a free agent at the end of the season.

Jonathan Bernier is the backup. His record is 5-9-1 with a .898 save percentage and a 3.38 GAA.

It will be interesting to see what the Red Wings front office decides to do at the trade deadline this season. Jimmy Howard will definitely draw some trade interests. Will Detroit decide to trade him for extra draft picks or will they decide to hang onto him? The Detroit Red Wings will either have 10 or 11 draft picks in the 2019 NHL Draft and possibly more.

In the 2018 NHL Draft, Detroit drafted players that will make an impact for them in the immediate future. Winger Filip Zadina was drafted sixth overall, center Joe Veleno was drafted 30th overall, winger Jonatan Berggren, and defenseman Jared McIsaac.

Zadina is 19 years old and he is currently playing in the AHL with the Grand Rapids Griffins. In 27 games, he has scored eight goals and recorded nine assists so far this season. Filip Zadina's plus/minus is -13. He was a steal in the NHL Draft last summer. Zadina was supposed to be a top three pick. He could be up in the NHL at some point this season and he will be a big part of this team's future in a top six role.

Veleno is 20 years old and he is an offensive machine in the QMJHL with the Drummondville Voltigeurs. Joe Veleno has played in 28 games so far this season and he has scored 22 goals and recorded 32 assists so far this season. His plus/minus is 31. Veleno could very well be a first or second line centerman in the NHL. He hasn't been signed to an entry-level deal yet and Joe Veleno is on his way to receiving one.

Berggren is 18 years old. He is very raw and Jonathan Berggren has a lot of upside. He will probably need a couple of more years in Sweden before heads to the United States. Berggren is more a play making winger rather than a goal scoring winger. He has played in 16 games with the Skelleftea AIK in the SHL. Jonathan Berggren has recorded three assists so far this season. His plus/minus rating is even.

McIsaac is 18 years old and he was already signed to an entry-level deal for three-years. Jared McIsaac is a very good two-way defenseman. He has played in 23 games with the Hailfax Mooseheads in the QMJHL so far this season. McIsaac has scored seven goals and recorded 15 assists. His plus/minus is 12.

If the Detroit Red Wings don't make it to the playoffs this season, I expect them to be back in the playoffs next season. They have not won the Stanley Cup since the 2007-2008 season when they beat the Pittsburgh Penguins in six games. The last time Detroit was in the Stanley Cup finals was back in the 2008-2009 season when they lost to the Pittsburgh Penguins in seven games.

The Detroit Red Wings have a bright future ahead.

This article was originally published on @gk18