With the NHL at the All-Star break, we can look back at how the Red Wings did in the first half. We’ll do that by individually grading each player.
Some of these grades will be more loosely based than others due to injuries. Robby Fabbri has looked great this year. But he’s only played in 12 games.
Also, these grades are based off of what their projection was coming into the season. Even if someone has lesser stats, they might have a better grade.
Setting the Curve
Filip Hronek – A-
No single player has probably flipped their perception around like Hronek. This guy was heading towards being a rough second pair defenseman. But he is having a great year that few saw coming.
Hronek is third on the team in points with 33. He has the second highest scoring chance for percentage behind Tyler Bertuzzi – who’s played a handful of games. Hronek has been awesome this year.
Dylan Larkin – A-
Larks isn’t having his best season ever. Or his second for that matter. But it’s so perfectly clear this team goes as far as he takes them. And he is having a good year.
Larkin has 43 points in 47 games this season. His face-off percentage is a few points above his career average. He’s also had a carousel of wingers next to him with Bertuzzi being hurt. Playing with different guys most nights isn’t easy.
Villie Husso – B+
No player made Wings fans feel warm and fuzzy as much as Husso did to start the season. He had a save percentage of .919 at 5-on-5 play through November. (Cue the 30-for-30 theme song). But what if I told you, that number has significantly dropped.
Since the new year, his save percentage at 5-on-5 is .899. Not horrible, but not good. With prospect Sebastian Cossa struggling in the ECHL, the Wings really need either Husso or Alex Nedeljkovic to become a consistent quality starter.
Michael Rasmussen – B
It’s been great watching Rasmussen grow and develop these last few years. He’s turned into a complete hockey player. If that dude had just a speck of more talent.
His advanced stats have been solid this year. He’s fourth lowest on the team in expected goals against. And second in high danger chances for per 60 minutes. Meaning he gets scoring chances in front of the net a lot.
Jonatan Berggren – B
Berggren was called up from Grand Rapids on November 10th and hasn’t looked back. His stats don’t wow you with 18 points in 35 games. But you can see the play in his game as to why he remains in Detroit as opposed to GR.
He’s crafty with the puck and can create plays when the odds of success are low. He’s been a nice addition to the powerplay. Gaining valuable NHL experience these next couple months will be big for Berggren going into next season.
Jake Walman – B-
I’ve liked Walman’s game so far this season. Expectations weren’t super high for him coming into the season but he’s done quite well. He’s been right behind Hronek as Detroit’s best offensive defenseman all season.
He’s proved so far he can be a solid second pair, great third pair defenseman moving forward for the Wings. He’ll need a more defensive minded partner in the future to counter his offensive prowess.
Andrew Copp – B-
It was a slow start for the first year Red Wing coming off surgery in the summer. But Copp has played really well the last couple months and his numbers are showing it.
Since December 1st, Copp has 13 points in 26 games. Which is only five points back of Larkin and Raymond who have the most. His face-off percentage has already steadily increased over the course of the year.
By the way, did you know Copp was a great high school quarterback at Ann Arbor Skyline?
Dominik Kubalik – B-
Kubalik got off to such a strong start. It feels like his numbers have plummeted the last couple months. But they really haven’t. He has nine points in the last 20 games. Same as Copp and Berggren. Can’t give those two flowers then rip Kubalik.
Lucas Raymond – C+
Not the step we were hoping for from Raymond this year. He has 32 points in 48 games. A slight drop from last year’s points per game pace. But he’s turning it around, 12 points in his last 15 games.
With Raymond it’s more about the eye test for me. I think he’s talented but I wonder ‘how good’ can he become. Can he be a bona fide first line star winger? We’ll find out.
David Perron – C+
Another guy who got off to a great start. But unlike Kubalik, Perron’s numbers really have fell off a cliff. In the last 15 games he has three points. Yikes.
Joe Veleno – C+
Another player where if he was just a tad more talented… he’d be a hell of a player. I really like Veleno for the role he’s in. A fourth line center, could be third line with the right guys next to him. He’s a good skater and plays with a lot of compete (that’s hockey slang for effort).
Elmer Soderblom – C+
I’m going to include Big E, even though he’s currently with Grand Rapids. Soderblom played in 21 games making the Wings out of camp. He had eight points in that span and mainly played in the bottom six.
I thought he was a classic case of showed flashes but needs a little seasoning in the minors. I think he has a very bright future in Detroit. Just look at what he did the other day.
Oskar Sundqvist – C
I know coach Derek Lalonde is big fan of Sunny. I’m not quite there yet. His advanced numbers are actually not bad. He’s seventh on the team in expected goals for per 60 minutes. And sixth in scoring chances for per 60 minutes.
I think he’s a good bottom six forward, but Detroit has had to play him on the second line and powerplay sometimes this year. And that’s not ideal.
Moritz Seider – C
This has nothing to do with projecting the future. Mo is going to be a top defenseman in this league. It just won’t happen as quickly as most of us thought.
Seider got off to a rough start to his sophomore season. He was getting too cute with the puck and not making the simple correct plays. His statistics were lacking as well.
(Cue the 30-for-30 theme song). But what if I told you… the real Mo Seider is back. Who is tied for the team lead in points the last 15 games? Anyone? Anyone? MORITZ FREAKING SEIDER!
Olli Maatta – C
Maatta has been what we expected. A steady defensive minded defenseman who doesn’t contribute a lot on the offensive side.
Pius Suter – C-
Say it with me everyone, trade candidate! Suter is an unrestricted free agent after this season who should not be re-signed. So, Steve Yzerman mine as well get a mid-round draft pick for him at the trade deadline.
Jordan Oesterle – C-
Another guy who has been what we thought he’d be. Oesterle is also a UFA at the end of the season.
With Simon Edvinsson playing well in GR, Oesterle likely won’t be back.
Ben Chiarot – D+
I’m not going to be overdramatic about this. I wasn’t in love with the signing when it happened and neither was anyone else.
Chiarot has a team worst -19 rating. He has the highest high-danger zone chances against among defensemen. has the second highest scoring chances against among defensemen. He hasn’t been good.
Adam Erne – D+
Another perfect trade candidate. Erne is what he is. A fourth line guy who can provide some grit. He’s a UFA at the end of the season and likely won’t be back. Get what you can for him.
Tyler Bertuzzi – D
13 games. This guy has 13 games to figure this shit out before the trade deadline. I’d trade his ass if he doesn’t turn it around by then. Bertuzzi has only played 17 games due to two unlucky injuries. But he has five points in those games and is -8. He also mainly plays on the top line.
I have been very disappointed with Bertuzzi every time I watch him. Half the time I feel like he’s flailing around on the ice. I like Bertuzzi but he’s not a first line winger on a playoff team. I would pay money to be in on the conversation between his agent and Yzerman discussing his next contract.
Robby Fabbri – Only 12 games played this season but he’s looked pretty good. Another guy who plays his ass off and can find the back of the net.
Filip Zadina – He’s been out since early November but didn’t have a point in the nine games he did play in. He was just sent to Grand Rapids for a conditioning stint so we should see Zadina back in the lineup within a week or two.
Jakub Vrana – Two points in two games before taking some time off. Once he came back he was sent to GR for a conditioning stint and it didn’t start out great. It was bad enough for Yzerman to put Vrana on waivers to keep him down there longer. Vrana has turned it around lately in the minors. I’d be surprised if we don’t see him back with Detroit at some point before the season ends.
Alex Nedeljkovic – He played in nine games for the Red Wings and was just awful. A .880 save percentage and 4.09 goals against average is absolutely brutal. Lalonde has mentioned before how rhythm is so important in a goalies success. Ned never got into one at the start of the season and once mid-November hit he was playing so infrequently he couldn’t get it back.
The main reason I didn’t include him in the actual grades is because he’s done well in Grand Rapids. In 11 games, he has a .922 save percentage and a 2.36 goals against average. I know it’s the minors, but for a guy who struggled that bad in Detroit, it’s good to see him doing so well. I think we’ll see Ned back in Detroit for a few games before the season ends.