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Rebuild a Bear: What to Expect From Detroit This Season

October 2, 2022, 4:37 PM ET [1 Comments]
Guest Writer
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By Ed Yager

This is the time of year when hockey people talk about their expectations for their team for the upcoming NHL season. In Hockeytown, the predictions range from a playoff bubble team to another disappointing season resulting in a Top 10 pick in next year’s draft. Detroit sports fans can be hard to please. This off-season saw General Manager Steve Yzerman bring in fresh talent to help the Red & White have more success and hopefully ease the minds of the most critical fans. I will offer up my thoughts on the upcoming season, but first, the key observations that brought me to my conclusion…

Dylan Larkin is entering his prime. The captain has better support and won’t have to put the team on his back every night. Hockey is a mental game. If Larks knows he has players with him that can put points on the board it frees him up to take his game to the next level. Will he put up 100 points? I highly doubt it but I bet we’ll be asking that question again at the midseason mark.

A full season of Tyler Bertuzzi. His bulldog style of play epitomizes the working class mentality of Detroit. What I find exceptional about #59 is his mental toughness that leads to his ability to keep focus and make plays that you would expect from “The Top 50 Players Right Now”, not a late second round wild-haired grinder. Also, he looks like he is having a blast every shift. The kid just loves to play. If Tyler can play a full season, expect 80+ points.

A full season of Jakub Vrana. What a trade the GM made a couple of years ago. Vrana is the perfect example of a fresh start. I expect he will be donning the Red & White for some time. Is 35+ goals too much to ask? If healthy, I think not.

The upgraded defensive corps. Yzerman looked at our backend with the same eyes as all of us did last year. Clearly our D was outmatched in most games. The depth wasn’t there so the GM did what he had to do. People say the Ben Chiarot deal was an overpayment. With rumors of the cap going up significantly in the middle of his contract, we’ll look back and see in the end, it was the right move to make to get to the next phase. Something to note regarding our current stable of D-men… there are only three players (Chiarot, Hronek, Seider) with years remaining on their contracts after this season… After next season, only Ben Chiarot has a contract in place. Now, we know Moritz Seider will be signed long-term and I’m pretty sure we are all okay with that.

The battle for the number one goalie between Ville Husso and Alex Nedelkovic. If you don’t think that these two will be playing their hearts out for the top spot then you are mistaken. Both netminders have the skill and stability to be a team’s go-to goalie. It will be fun to watch them battle each night to be ‘the guy’.

Another year of watching the future come to life. I may be the minority but I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the rebuild. In the cap era, it’s a true science and it’s interesting to watch it come together. I’ve had the extraordinary experience of seeing four cups hoisted by the Wings in my lifetime. For this I am grateful and if they never won another before I go, I am content. Having said that, I am not in any rush for another Stanley Cup. I am being patient for four more Stanley Cups. This rebuild is a return to excellence and to once again be the envy of the league. The hate received during the fat times was bred from jealousy. I say let’s get back there.

Those elements are keys to what this season holds for our Detroit Red Wings. I mentioned earlier about preseason predictions but I didn’t mention how much I find them to be futile. How can we make an educated guess on how this season will unfold? Sure, the team is better but so are other teams. In place of a true prediction and I know I’ll catch flack because it’s not exactly a hot take but it needs to be understood… this team will be harder to play against. Last season, at times, the team rolled over in games. That changes this season. For the first time in a handful of campaigns we’ll look down at the ice or up to our televisions and say, “I love it when an Yzerplan comes together.”

Please comment on what you feel are the key elements for success going into this season. There are many factors at play and I would love to read your thoughts on the team and the rebuild. Thanks for reading.
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