The Detroit Red Wings haven't made the playoffs since the 2015-16 season. It might be a while before they return.
The rebuild could be a slow one for the Red Wings, who come in 27th in ESPN's NHL future power rankings, which projects where the 31 teams stand for the next three years.
ESPN gives the Red Wings an overall score of 71.6 in the rankings posted Tuesday, placing them in the "C" range on their grading scale.
"When the Red Wings' dynastic run fizzled out, all that was left was the memories and bloated contracts," writes Emily Kaplan, an ESPN hockey reporter. "OK, it wasn't that dire. But the rebuild has been slow, as Detroit waits for unfavorable contracts to get off the books. Now that Steve Yzerman is in charge, there's hope that the path back to winning can be expedited."
The ESPN crew, which includes senior NHL writer Greg Wyshynski and NHL draft and prospects analyst Chris Peters, rated each team in four categories — roster, prospects, salary cap situation and front office/coaching — to come up with the final score.
The Wings graded highest in the front office and coaching, which includes the return of Yzerman to the organization as general manager. ESPN ranked Detroit 12th in the category with a score of 81.7. Prospects are close behind, with ESPN ranking the Wings 12th at 79.3.
"Even though Filip Zadina underwhelmed last season, I think he still has the ability to be a game-breaking player and a long-term top-six winger for the team," Peters writes. "Joseph Veleno might be the Swiss army knife who does a little bit of everything, and now we're going to have to see what recent first-rounder Moritz Seider brings to the table. That trio gives the Red Wings a decent core of young prospects who could eventually fill significant roles."
Seider impressed during the Red Wings camp in Traverse City, while Zadina will be looking to earn a roster spot after spending most of last season in Grand Rapids.
The Red Wings, who finished 32-40-10 last season, ranked lowest with their roster, checking in at 30th (59.7).
Detroit opens the preseason Tuesday night at home against the Chicago Blackhawks. The regular-season opener is Oct. 5 at Nashville.