Updated: Apr 29
Jordan Wohl, Guest Writer
Tyler Bertuzzi celebrates his goal against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Photo//Paul Sancya/AP
With the 106th NHL season in full swing and the new-look Detroit Red Wings kicking off their 95th season on October 14th at home versus the Montreal Canadiens, let’s take a look at some questions that need answering this year for the Wings and league at-large:
1. How much does Steve Yzerman’s offseason additions improve Detroit’s record?
The Yzerplan was kicked into high gear this offseason as former Captain and 4-time Stanley Cup Champion Steve Yzerman chose to make his fourth season as Detroit’s General Manager a more competitive one than his first three. The Red Wings won the offseason with the highest improvement in expected win totals as a trade for goaltender Ville Husso and free agent signings Andrew Copp, David Perron, Ben Chiarot, and Olli Maata specifically should give fans higher expectations for this Wings roster.
Statistics sourced from nhl.com
2. How will Filip Zadina perform with a new head coach?
Well so far, not so good. The Czech winger selected 6th overall by Detroit in the 2018 Entry Draft never fully delivered on a promise to ‘fill their nets with pucks’ and did not have an amicable relationship with former Head Coach Jeff Blashill. Zadina has shown signs of being a top six winger in the NHL through respectable playmaking ability and defensive competency, which earned him a three-year contract extension this offseason. To the surprise of many fans, Zadina will be starting the 2022-23 season as a healthy scratch in spite of a solid training camp and preseason.
3. Does Tyler Bertuzzi end the season with Detroit?
Tyler Bertuzzi is the first line winger that your favorite playoff team wishes they could have. He compliments an above-average shot and skating ability with a toughness and grit that only Quest Bigelow could match. Bertuzzi has had several issues getting a long-term contract with a stingy Yzerman, who is known for getting the best deal out of his negotiations. Bertuzzi has filed for arbitration twice during contract negotiations in the past and will be a free agent at the end of the year.
This means the Red Wings will do one of three things: attempt to re-sign him to a team-friendly deal, trade him before the deadline, or worst of all, get absolutely nothing for him. When in Tampa Bay, Yzerman shocked the hockey world by letting captain and top player Steven Stamkos walk to free agency in 2016. Although Stamkos re-signed with Tampa, Yzerman has shown a tight tendency to stick with his prices. On another note, this scares a lot of Red Wing fans with Captain Dylan Larkin’s current contract expiring at the end of the 2023-24 season.
4. When will Simon Edvinsson get called up from the minors?
Simon Edvinsson was taken by the Red Wings in the sixth round of the 2021 Entry Draft and showed promise in Sweden’s top league last year. The 6 '4'' defenseman impressed in the preseason but was sent down to the minor leagues to start the year. You will notice when watching Edvinsson that he really likes to be active in the offensive zone and will often lead breakouts as far as to the opposite goal line. While many defenseman, like Rookie of the Year Moritz Seider, share similar offensive intrigue, Simon struggles to maintain his defensive responsibility when taking chances. He often got burned for his missed coverages in the preseason. Time and experience on the smaller North American ice should give Edvinsson more defensive awareness and confidence when he does choose to show off his physicality and dexterity offensively.
5. How many starts does Sebastian Cossa get in Grand Rapids?
Detroit burned two picks in a trade up to acquire tall Canadian goaltender Sebastian Cossa out of the WHL’s Edmonton Oil Kings 15th overall in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft. The 6’5” goaltender is so athletic and a powerful skater but showed some flaws in Juniors. His power leads him to stray far out of position and often the inefficiency getting post-to-post burned him more often than not. Cossa will be fighting for playing time with two very capable veteran netminders in Victor Brattstrom and Juho Olkinuora, but one would imagine that the Wings are placing their young goalie in Grand Rapids with the expectation that he will receive enough reps.
Some other storylines around the league to keep an eye on:
1. Will Ottawa’s revamped top six be enough?
Summer 2022 was truly the summer of Pierre. Thanks to GM Pierre Dorian, the cellar-dwelling Senators now have several offensive weapons to compete in a loaded Atlantic Division: Claude Giroux, Brady Tkachuk, Jake Batherson, Tim Stutzle, Josh Norris, and Alex Debrincat. But will their offensive firepower be enough to compensate for a weak D-core and 41 year-old goaltender Craig Anderson?
2. Can Rick Bowness and John Tortarella fix their new respective locker rooms?
Rick Bowness is taking over a Winnipeg Jets roster who lost their head coach last year due to several locker room issues. John Tortarella is a walking headline with his off-ice antics and is also taking over a seemingly broken Philadelphia Flyers locker room. Torts explained in an interview this summer that he had “major concerns” over the culture in the Flyers locker room, so time will tell if either coach can turn their teams around.
3. How good are the Vegas Golden Knights?
Unproven goaltending, a full year of superstar Jack Eichel, and another year together for their core of Chandler Stevenson, William Karlsson, Mark Stone, and Shea Theodore. A beautiful mess, either resulting in a Cup contender or a lottery contender. Let’s see what happens.
4. How good are the New York Islanders?
A roster that went to two-straight Conference Finals got so unlucky with a COVID-19 outbreak and a record-breaking 13-game road trip to open the season spiraled their 2021-22 campaign out of control. Like Vegas, are the Islanders still good or not?
5. Where does Patrick Kane finish the season?
Patrick Kane is debatably the greatest American forward of all time. Does he stay in Chicago and break every offensive record in team history or get frustrated with the rebuild? My prediction is that he goes, and I am counting on a reunion with Artemi Panarin to launch the New York Rangers into the Cup finals. Check out my season predictions below to see how I feel the rest of the league will fall.