When the NHL shut down on March 12 because of the coronavirus pandemic, only one team was so bad that it was already mathematically eliminated from the playoffs: The Detroit Red Wings.
Detroit recorded just 17 wins in 71 games and was on pace for only 45 points in 82 games (.275 points percentage), the worst record of any non-expansion team since 2000.
The Red Wings are likely to be one of the worst teams once again as the 2021 NHL season dawns. The opening futures set by sportsbooks reflect that.
Detroit is listed as the longshot to win the Stanley Cup at +35000. A $100 bet on Detroit would net $35,000 if the Red Wings pull off a miracle. The Ottawa Senators at +20000 have the second-longest odds to win it all, but the substantial gap between Detroit and Ottawa further showcases how far off Detroit is from the rest of the league.
Detroit opens its 56-game season on Jan. 14 when it hosts the Carolina Hurricanes. The Red Wings opened with a +160 moneyline, while the Hurricanes are at -190.
Center Dylan Larkin is the team’s top returning point-scorer after tallying 19 goals and 34 assists last season. Detroit also returns its lone All-Star from last year, left wing Tyler Bertuzzi, who finished the season with 48 points (21 goals, 27 assists). Anthony Mantha joins Larkin and Bertuzzi on Detroit’s top line. Over the final 10 games of last season, the trio combined for 11 goals and 22 assists.
The Red Wings also added depth when they signed center Vladislav Namestnikov and right wing Bobby Ryan. Namestnikov’s versatility – he can play all three forward positions – gives Detroit head coach Jeff Blashill some lineup flexibility. Ryan’s shooting mentality will provide a much-needed spark for the offense.
Jonathan Bernier took over the team’s primary goaltending duties in early December, replacing Jimmy Howard. Bernier’s .907 save percentage ranked 42nd in the league and he finished with an 2.95 goals against average (48th).
Bernier will be competing for the starting goaltending job with Thomas Greiss, who signed with Detroit on a two-year, $7.2 million deal. Greiss went 16-9-4 with the New York Islanders last season, finishing with a .913 save percentage and a 2.74 GAA.
Because the border between the United States and Canada is still closed, the NHL and the players’ union, the NHLPA, realigned the league’s divisions just for this season. The goal is to limit team travel and shift to interdivisional scheduling.
The NHL is planning on playing games at the home arenas of the participating teams but will be prepared to play certain matchups at neutral sites if needed.
Detroit is a member of the Central Division, joining the Carolina Hurricanes, Chicago Blackhawks, Columbus Blue Jackets, Dallas Stars, Florida Panthers, Nashville Predators and the defending Stanley Cup Champion Tampa Bay Lightning. Each team in the division will play every other team within the division eight times.