The Detroit Red Wings followed up an NHL-record 25 straight postseason appearances by failing to advance for seven consecutive years — but captain Dylan Larkin believes the team is on the cusp of returning to the dance in 2023-24.
“I do believe the past couple years we’ve taken steps,” the Michigan native told NHL.com’s Nicholas J. Cotsonika this week. “I really am excited. But we’ve got to come together. You’ve got to stay healthy. You’ve got to click at the right time. Can’t go on big slides. So, those are big focuses for us.”
The Red Wings continue to rebuild in a very difficult Atlantic Division; the squad won just 35 games in 2022-23 and finished seventh place.
But general manager Steve Yzerman has made some crucial additions this offseason, most notably sniper and Michigan native Alex DeBrincat. The 25-year-old was pried out of Ottawa and subsequently signed to a four-year, $31.5 million pact that figures to keep him in Detroit until at least 2027.
“As guys have started to come into town and get on the ice, I see size — minus Alex,” Larkin said with a laugh about his new teammate at the NHL North American Media Tour at America First Center.
Despite his 5-foot-8 stature, DeBrincat will be a huge addition to the Red Wings — especially playing in a place where he grew up and wanted to be traded to this summer.
Besides the undersized sniper, the Wings also added top-six center JT Compher from the Colorado Avalanche and Jeff Petry from the Montreal Canadiens. Both players figure to play a prominent role on the roster next season.
Two more under-the-radar additions include D-men Shane Gostisbehere and Justin Holl, helping to shore up a defensive unit that will be tough to play against next year.
“On our back end, there’s some big bodies and big, long sticks. For me, that’s the hardest to play against, when there’s big guys that can move well,” Larkin explained. “I’m really excited. We really shored up our back end, and that’s going to be huge. It’s going to help everyone.”
Whether or not Dylan Larkin and the Red Wings can return to postseason contention next April is up in the air, but the roster improvement compared to last season is undeniable.