Know Your New Enemy: The Detroit Red Wings

By Dan Dukart on December 21, 2020 at 1:20 pm
Pierre-Luc Dubois shields the puck from Tyler Bertuzzi
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The NHL has greenlit a new divisional alignment for the upcoming 2021 season, putting the Columbus Blue Jackets in a Central Division with some new - and old - friends. In this series, we'll familiarize (or in some cases, refamiliarize) ourselves with the Central Division foes. First up, the Detroit Red Wings.


All-Time Regular Season Record: 95 GP, 39-43-1-12 (W-L-T-OTL)
All-Time Playoff Record: 4 GP, 0-4-0
Last Season: 3-0-0

Last Season Skinny

The Red Wings had a 2019-20 to forget (who among us, am I right?), finishing with a league-worst 39 points (17-49-5) in 71 games. Simply put, they were among the worst teams in NHL history. For many Blue Jackets fans, this is a nice change of pace, as the Red Wings were perennial playoff teams for decades. No, really. Detroit made the playoffs for an unfathomable 25 consecutive seasons between 1990-91 and 2015-16. 

But that streak is now ancient history, as the Red Wings committed hard to a rebuild. Their quest for a last-place finish was due to the theoretical prize at the end of the road, the number one overall pick in the NHL Draft. Unfortunately for Detroit, they lost the Draft Lottery and ended up picking fourth overall, missing out on their chance to select consensus number one pick Alexis Lafreniere, who joined Sidney Crosby as two-time CHL Player of the Year award winners. 

A rough end to a rough season.

Offseason Moves

The Red Wings made a bevy of moves this offseason, as GM Steve Yzerman shrewdly signed a handful of low-risk, high-reward contracts that could pay off handsomely. 


  • Bobby Ryan (OTT)
  • Troy Stecher (VAN)
  • Vladislav Namestnikov (COL)
  • Jon Merrill (VGK)
  • Thomas Greiss (NYI)
  • Marc Staal (NYR)


  • Jimmy Howard
  • Jonathan Ericsson
  • Trevor Daley
  • Justin Abdelkader (bought out)

All of the new additions should give Detroit a meaningful boost. Sam Gagner, who was acquired at the trade deadline in February in exchange for Andreas Athanasiou but played just six games before the season was shut down, will also be in the mix.

2021 Primer

The Red Wings will be much improved year-over-year. With a top-line featuring Dylan Larkin and Anthony Mantha and a top-six that will now include Namestnikov, Robby Fabbri, and Tyler Bertuzzi, Detroit has significantly more offense than they did a year ago. 

On the defensive side of the puck, the Red Wings brought in three new players (Staal, Stecher, Merrill), who should help stabilize a group that struggled to keep the puck out of the net in 2019-20. That, coupled with the growth of 23-year old Filip Hronek, means the Red Wings have a much better defense corps than they did a year ago. In net, Detroit replaced Howard with Greiss, with Jonathan Bernier the presumed backup. 

For the Red Wings, this season will be about internal growth and the development of top prospects, including Filip Zadina, Moritz Seider, Jonatan Berggren, Dennis Cholowski, Joe Veleno, and recently-picked fourth overall pick Lucas Raymond. Expectations are, even with all of the improvements both internally and externally, this team will be a lottery team again in 2021.