State of the Red Wings: Turnover will be significant on defense

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Editor's note: This is the second of a three-part series in which The Detroit News takes a look at the Red Wings' position groups.

Detroit — Red Wings fans are going to get their wish.

There will be change and significant turnover on the Red Wings’ defense.

Age and free agency is going to cause a change to this position group, altering the overall look dramatically.

For Wings fans, not a minute too soon.

You could count on the emails flooding into mailboxes on a daily, certainly weekly, basis.

Red Wings defenseman Trevor Daley will be an unrestricted free agent this summer.

Red Wings fans were frustrated and agitated with the aging defensive corps, highlighted by Trevor Daley, Jonathan Ericsson and Mike Green.

The three veterans have been injury-plagued and struggled on the ice when they were healthy.

All three are unrestricted free agents this summer, and Green was the first to depart as the Wings’ dealt him to Edmonton at the trade deadline.

Daley and Ericsson will not be brought back, given their subpar performance and inability to stay in the lineup.

With those three veterans rarely in the lineup together this season — and Danny DeKeyser only having played eight games this season due to a herniated disc — young defensemen earned huge playing time.

Filip Hronek was one younger defenseman who took advantage of the ice time and cemented himself as a big piece of the rebuild ahead.

Veterans Patrik Nemeth and Alex Biega had respectable seasons and earned spots in the lineup going forward.

After that, there remain large question marks.

Many fans will want to see defenseman Moritz Seider, the 2019 first-round draft pick, in a Wings uniform from the start next season.

But unless Seider can definitively crack one of the top two pairings, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him begin next season in Grand Rapids again. With the Griffins, Seider can play in all situations and receive ample minutes since he only turned 19 on April 6.

The Wings are likely to fill openings on defense during unrestricted free agency.

Several potential upgrades could be available, including Livonia native Torey Krug (Michigan State), who has yet to re-sign with the Boston Bruins.

Over the next few days, The Detroit News will take a look at the various Wings’ position groups, how they have fared this season, and what to expect going forward.

Up today: defense.

Alex Biega

Stats: 49 games, no goals, three assists

Outlook: Expected to be a depth defenseman after being acquired in October, Biega impressed enough to sign a one-year extension and could be in the starting lineup next season.

Madison Bowey

Stats: 53 games, three goals, 14 assists

Outlook: There’s been flashes of production and potential, but there just hasn’t been the consistency to show Bowey, who will turn 25 on April 22, is a building block going forward.

Dennis Cholowski

Stats: 36 games, two goals, six assists

Outlook: Cholowski is only 22 and it’s way too early for any definitive predictions. But the 2016 first-round pick has struggled to gain a foothold in the NHL and hasn’t overwhelmed in Grand Rapids. He needs to show improvement next season.

Trevor Daley

Stats: 43 games, no goals, seven assists

Outlook: Injuries marred Daley’s three-year stay with the Wings, and they rarely saw the player he had been. Still, he was an impressive mentor to younger players in the room.

Danny DeKeyser

Stats: eight games, no goals, four assists

Outlook: A herniated disc essentially made this a lost season for DeKeyser. Now 30, DeKeyser has to prove the back issue is behind him and remain a vital, top-pairing defenseman for the Wings.

Jonathan Ericsson

Stats: 18 games, no goals, no assists

Outlook: Injuries also derailed Ericsson’s final years with the Wings. He wasn’t the same player and it led to his ineffectiveness.

Cody Goloubef

Stats: two games, no goals, no assists

Outlook: Claimed off waivers in February to bolster a depleted lineup, Goloubef saw little playing time before the pandemic hit.

Filip Hronek

Stats: 65 games, nine goals, 22 assists

Outlook: He was given a larger role than anticipated with DeKeyser hurt, but it didn’t seem to bother Hronek. Relishing the ice time and responsibility, Hronek was arguably the Wings’ best defenseman.

Gustav Lindstrom

Stats: 16 games, no goals, one assist

Outlook: Lindstrom arrived late in the season as advertised, a steady defenseman who doesn’t play reckless and is overly steady. A little more seasoning in Grand Rapids might be necessary.

Patrik Nemeth

Stats: 64 games, one goal, eight assists

Outlook: Nemeth was the prototypical defensive defenseman the Wings wanted when they signed him as a free agent last summer. He does his job without fanfare but does it well.

Moritz Seider

Stats (in Grand Rapids): 49 games, two goals, 20 assists

Outlook: The Wings love his future, but unless Seider absolutely shows he is undoubtedly NHL-ready, he may need a bit more time in Grand Rapids.

Grand Rapids

Joe Hicketts, Brian Lashoff, Dylan McIlrath: Veteran minor leaguers have shown they can be suitable stopgaps when needed.


Seth Barton, Gustav Berglund, Albert Johansson, Kasper Kotkansalo, Jared McIsaac, Cooper Moore, Malte Setkov, Antti Tuomisto: Recent draft picks and some, like McIsaac, will begin their pro careers in Grand Rapids next season.

Twitter: @tkulfan

Previous installments

State of the Red Wings: Jonathan Bernier gives hope to goaltending group