As the calendar hits October, it’s time to get ready for ice hockey!
The dawn of a new NHL season is almost upon us. The first puck officially drops on Tuesday, October 10. The Detroit Red Wings begin their fall campaign two nights later away vs. the New Jersey Devils.
Second-year head coach Derek Lalonde looks to make strides this season. The Wings went 35-37-10 to finish seventh in their division last year. But a lot has changed since then.
Even with some offseason upgrades, it won’t get any easier. The Wings are locked in a tough Atlantic Division that produced a number of playoff teams in 2023. Can they climb into contention? That is the main question to be answered.
Detroit hasn’t made the playoffs in seven years. The natives have gotten restless. Wings GM Steve Yzerman enters his fifth year in charge of the club. The team’s faithful fans want to see results.
Yzerman did shake things up with some major moves in the off-season. The biggest one was a July 4 trade that brought star right winger Alex DeBrincat to Detroit.
The top line forward from Farmington Hills should feel right at home here. DeBrincat has already begun to pay dividends, with all-star center Dylan Larkin being the big beneficiary.
In addition, the Wings made a flurry of free agent signings once the league signing period began. These are a few of the more notable ones:
Center J.T. Compher, a Stanley Cup champion with Colorado, adds a winning pedigree.
Right winger Christian Fischer joins the Wings after a seven-year stint with the Arizona Coyotes. The 6-foot-2 forward has ties to the team, and should be a natural fit.
Veteran addition Shayne Gostisbehere - “Ghost” aims to play a key role in the Red Wings’ defensive rotation. Fellow defenseman Justin Holl brings depth to the roster.
Russian center Klim Kostin could give them added production. The former first-round pick is only 24 years old, with a chance to show his worth in Detroit.
Veteran goalkeeper James Reimer inked a deal with the Wings in early July. The 6-foot-3 southpaw from Manitoba will try to solidify the backup goalie spot.
Right wing Daniel Sprong signed with Detroit after a 20-goal season for the Seattle Kraken. The Red Wings hope he can continue to chip in at that clip.
Defenseman Jeff Petry also joined the Red Wings in August. The son of famed Detroit Tigers pitcher Dan Petry is a 14-year NHL vet who should help bolster the defensive corps.
As for Detroit’s core, 2022 Calder Trophy winner Moritz Seider suits up for his third year with the Wings. Does the young German defenseman take another step toward elite status?
On the final day of Red Wings training camp, Lalonde leveled with reporters about the odds being stacked against them:
“We'll knock the noise away, and it'll be about our process, just doing things correctly. Very similar to where we were last year. No one gave us a fighting chance last year, and ultimately in the end, they were right. But, as I've stated before, late into the season, game 57, we were in that playoff line, we'd exceeded expectations, and hopefully it'll look the same this year."
There is much to cover around the league. The reigning Stanley Cup champion Vegas Golden Knights have regrouped and aim to repeat the feat. Could they be a budding dynasty or just another one-hit wonder?
Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid is coming off a historic year. The NHL MVP tallied 64 goals and 89 assists, for 153 points. He finished first in all three categories.
Nobody else was within 25 points of him. Only six in NHL history have scored 150 points over a single season. It’s fair to say that McDavid has staked his claim as the league’s best player.
The Boston Bruins topped the NHL standings last spring at 65-12-5 and 135 points. Boston will shoot to replicate that record-setting season. Yet they must make adjustments.
Ex-team captain Patrice Bergeron called time on a stellar 19-year NHL career in July. The former Bs center helped them capture a Stanley Cup in 2011.
Backstop Linus Ullmark is fresh off a Vezina Trophy win, given to the league’s top goalie. The Bruins have other vital pieces in place. And they appear to have a bright future.
San Jose Sharks defender Erik Karlsson won a third Norris Trophy in 2023. That is awarded to the league’s best blueliner. How does the race play out this year?
Tune in, click on or attend and see for yourself.