It’s time once again for a Screen Shots column. Regular readers will know this means you’ll be reading a few smaller files on various topics. Let’s get straight to it:
– After the first few days of unrestricted free agency, I looked back over the moves teams have made, and the more I look at what GM Steve Yzerman and the Detroit Red Wings have done, the more I like them to make a push for a playoff spot in the Atlantic Division this coming season.
With the caveat that, like many people, I don’t like the amount of salary or term Yzerman gave to defenseman Ben Chiarot, the rest of Detroit’s additions should make a big difference for them in 2022-23. The dependable goal-scoring of veteran winger David Perron will be a major boost for their offense, as will the signing of former Jets and Rangers forward Andrew Copp. Although Chiarot is overpaid at $4.75 million, he’ll add bite to the lineup, and if new head coach Derek Lalonde has better luck on the health front with veterans Robby Fabri and Jakub Vrana, Detroit’s offense will be formidable.
All things considered, the Wings have enough punch in their roster now to see them giving the Boston Bruins a run for their money for the fourth playoff berth in the Atlantic. The Ottawa Senators will also be in that mix, and determining that last playoff spot may come down to which team has the best goaltending. Detroit has the relatively inexperienced Ville Husso between the pipes, but if he gets enough offensive support, he could thrive in the No. 1 roll.
The other thing to bear in mind with the Wings: Yzerman still has more than $10.2 million in cap space. Some of that will go to restricted free agents Jake Walman and Filip Zadina, but there should still be a good chunk left over for Yzerman to spend on an in-season addition. That could put Detroit over the top in the playoff race. Regardless, keep your eye on the Red Wings this year. They could make the post-season for the first time since 2015-16, and that’s welcome news for Wings fans.
– At the other end of the off-season moves spectrum: the New York Islanders. The Isles and GM Lou Lamoriello haven’t done anything of consequence this summer, and though Im not suggesting they need to make a move for the sake of making a move, suddenly their lineup looks in danger of being overtaken for fifth place in the Metropolitan Division by Johnny Gaudreau and the Columbus Blue Jackets, as well as the New Jersey Devils.
The Isles still have many high-impact talents, and they were waylaid by the COVID-19 pandemic last season, but the fact remains that they finished 16 points behind the Washington Capitals for the final playoff berth in the Metro last season. The Caps don’t intend on giving up that spot this season, and the Islanders are going to be in tough to get back into the post-season. There’s still time for Lamoriello to make some moves, but the status quo doesn’t feel like it’s going to be enough for the Isles to keep up with the Joneses this year.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t note the absolute wasteland that is the Arizona Coyotes’ roster.
GM Bill Armstrong isn’t surprising anyone by tanking the season again, while the Chicago Blackhawks may rival Arizona for the bottom spot in the Central Division – and indeed, the basement of the entire league – the Coyotes’ lack of depth is almost comical. Even before Armstrong deals defensemen Jakob Chychrun and Shayne Gostisbehere, Arizona’s lineup will produce loss after loss after loss.
Maybe it’s a good thing they’ll be playing for a maximum of 5,000 people for 41 home games this season. Asking three or four times that number of fans to show up to see this team is like asking for public masochism on a level not seen since the heyday of the rock band Creed.