September 20, 2023, 1:17 pm
We’ve been focused on the Western Conference with these previews, but with the season fast-approaching, I think it prudent to hit on the teams that made the more impactful transactions. The Detroit Red Wings are certainly near the top of that list. It was one of the stranger seasons seeing as they came into the season having playoff aspirations. They fell flat on their face as every aspect to playing winning hockey broke almost immediately. They suffered from consistent inconsistent production – 24th in Goals For (no player surpassed 80 points), 23rd in Goals Against. We’ll highlight the additions in a moment, but it’s certainly worth noting the departures: Dominik Kubalik, LW (OTT), Filip Zadina, RW (SJ), Pius Suter, C (VAN), Alex Chiasson, RW (PTO w/ BOS), Adam Erne, LW (UFA), Robert Hagg, D (ANA), Gustav Lindstrom, D (MTL), Alex Nedeljkovic, G (PIT), Magnus Hellberg, G (PIT). It’s obvious they did not like what they saw from their younger guys like Zadina, Suter, and Erne while signaling they are not waiting around to contend for one more second.
So, in step the newcomers…
FWs Alex DeBrincat, LW, J.T. Compher, C, Klim Kostin, LW, Daniel Sprong, RW, Christian Fischer, RW
D Justin Holl, Jeff Petry, Shayne Gostisbehere
G James Reimer
– Detroit fans are going to be chomping at the bit for their first home game and seeing Dylan Larkin have some real support. The most impactful signing was Alex Debrincat, who joins his 3rd team before turning 26. Underlying circumstances or context aside, he’ll also likely approach 200 career goals before his next birthday, as well (December). The Cat brings speed and an incredibly accurate forehand shot that will undoubtedly give opposing teams much more to think about at both even strength and when Detroit has the man-advantage. Almost half his points last season came from the powerplay (30/66). The last stat I’ll throw out is he’s only had one season where he dipped below 10% shooting the puck and that was 8%…he’s deadly with time and, frankly doesn’t need much space thanks to his smaller frame. This year I project him to get back up above 30 goals and sit around 70-74 points.
– When a team imagines getting stronger down the middle and at the dot, they aim to imitate what Detroit did this summer after Colorado let JT Compher and his 49% faceoff win-rate walk out the door. Now, to be fair, Compher is not some perennial scorer, but at the same time he’s no slouch. Teams could do so much worse than 50+ points and 50% on the dots. That being said, changing teams won’t change his fantasy projection much given that he’ll likely be the 2nd or 3rd-line center, depending on how Andrew Copp plays. Let’s give Compher around 50 points.
– One of the more interesting moves was seeing Seattle let Daniel Sprong move on, but I suspect it was due to the salary cap. A depth forward, sure, but also was 6th in Seattle for team scoring – racked up 46 point in a 4th line role averaging just over 11 minutes of ice time. He has a very underrated wrist-shot (14% shooting) and sneaky speed that will catch defenders off guard. I think he has more upside than fellow newcomer, Christian Fischer, and will earn 3rd line time eventually. I’m going to be a little vanilla with this one and put Sprong at the 45 point projection, but that’s also plenty reasonable given his depth role.
– To further back up my point about Sprong versus Fischer, Christian played in 14 more games a year ago and scored 19 less points. Fischer is not really worth noting in fantasy nor is worthy of that 3rd line RW spot. I don’t have some vendetta against him, he’s simply not a scorer.
– Defensively, it’ll be interesting how they deploy their defensive pairings. This will of course affect the fantasy value of both Jeff Petry and Shayne Gostisbehere. Both put up 31 points and both still posses the skills to be impactful on the offensive side. However, due to the presence of Jake Walman, Moritz Seider and even Ben Chiarot, their roles/opportunities might be capped at a similar projected output – probably around 35 points.