The Detroit Red Wings failed to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the sixth straight season.
Detroit (28-34-10), eliminated from contention when the Washington Capitals defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins 6-3 on Saturday, hasn’t made the playoffs since 2015-16, the end of their 25-season streak.
Here is a look at what happened in the 2021-22 season for the Red Wings and why things could be better next season:
Potential unrestricted free agents: Sam GagnerF; Carter RowneyF; Danny DeKeyserD; Marc StaalD; Thomas GreissG; Calvin PickardG
Potential restricted free agents: Mitchell StephensF; Filip Zadina F; Olli JuoleviD; Jake WalmanD
Potential 2022 Draft picks: 11
What went wrong
Goals against: Detroit entered Saturday tied for last in the NHL in goals against (3.80 per game), 31st on the penalty kill (73.0 percent), and 28th in 5-on-5 save percentage (90.9 percent). Alex Nedeljkovic was 18-21-8 with a 3.31 goals-against average, .901 save percentage and two shutouts. Thomas Greiss was 9-12-1 with a 3.63 GAA and .890 save percentage.
Bertuzzi’s absences: The Red Wings have played 13 games without forward Tyler Bertuzzi, whose 26 goals and 54 points are second on Detroit. Five games were because of injury. Eight were because he isn’t vaccinated for COVID-19 and can’t travel to Canada. The Red Wings are 3-10-0 without him, including 2-6-0 in Canada.
Late-season slump: The Red Wings were 23-22-6 after a 3-2 shootout win at the New York Rangers on Feb. 17. They have gone 5-12-3 since, allowing at least five goals 12 times. Captain Dylan Larkin has called their effort unacceptable.
Reasons for optimism
Calder candidates: The Red Wings have two candidates for the Calder Trophy, voted as NHL rookie of the year. Forward Lucas Raymond, the No. 4 pick in the 2020 NHL Draft, has scored 53 points (22 goals, 31 assists) in 71 games, second among rookies behind Toronto Maple Leafs forward Michael Bunting (56). Moritz Seider, the No. 6 pick in the 2019 NHL Draft, is fourth among rookies and leads first-year defensemen with 45 points (five goals, 40 assists) in 71 games.
Top prospects: Forward Jonatan Berggren, a second-round pick (No. 33) in the 2018 NHL Draft, has scored 46 points (16 goals, 30 assists) in 60 games for the Grand Rapids of the American Hockey League. Other prospects to watch include two from Frolunda of the Swedish Hockey League: forward Elmer Soderblom, a sixth-round pick (No. 159) in the 2019 NHL Draft who has scored 33 points (21 goals, 12 assists) in 52 games, and defenseman Simon Edvinsson, the No. 6 pick in the 2021 NHL Draft (19 points; two goals, 17 assists in 44 games).
Cap space and draft capital: The Red Wings have ample space under the NHL salary cap to maneuver in the offseason, and extra picks they can use for trades or the 2022 NHL Draft itself. They have an extra second-round pick, two extra fourth-round selections and an extra seventh-round pick in the 2022 draft, though they don’t have one in the sixth round. Detroit has an extra second-round selection in the 2023 NHL Draft and in the fourth round of the 2024 NHL Draft.