How will the top pairing shake out?
The Detroit Red Wings’ top defensive unit is subject to change based on one factor: Danny DeKeyser’s health. Last season’s injury sidelined DeKeyser for the whole year.
He’s shown plenty of readiness during Training Camp this week, but, likely, Blashill won’t rush him out to the top pairing. His health this season is imperative; as the Red Wings’ top defenseman, he will be primarily deployed against the NHL’s toughest offenses.
His linemate will likely be Filip Hronek, who had shown immense promise last season. While the unit isn’t an unstoppable defensive force, they’re both capable, solid defensemen that can handle the rigors of an NHL season. The bigger worry lies within the thought of injury.
If DeKeyser is offered limited deployment or if either he or Hronek are injured, the talent level drops off a cliff quickly after.
Making a salvageable second pairing
DailyFaceoff has penciled Marc Staal and Troy Stecher on the Red Wings’ second pairing. Stecher is a young defenseman with a lot of potential. He’s been praised for his work ethic on the blue line and has shown promise when provided more ice time. Staal, on the other hand, appears to be nearing the end of his NHL career.
He’s not a terrible defenseman by any means, but deploying him on the second line runs the risk of creating costly errors on the backend. Staal will be a good mentor for Stetcher, but expecting him to shoulder the burden of tougher competition may be a tall order.
Stecher’s two-way play might be a good idea to play him alongside a defensive defenseman like Patrik Nemeth.
Nemeth has experience on the second pairing, and his style of play will open up more opportunities for Stetcher to grow into his offensive ability. Christian Djoos, a new waiver pickup from the Anaheim Ducks, could be an intriguing option as well.