The bottom pairing is anyone’s guess.
As far as talent goes, there isn’t very much to work with; Merrill is a solid choice at the bottom pairing, but placing a defensive defenseman with another in Nemeth seems redundant. Djoos hasn’t shown that he’s capable of handling a full NHL season just yet, and Biega is a shadow of the player he once was.
This is the team’s shakiest pairing. The Detroit Red Wings will need to play it smart when choosing defensemen to hold down the back end when things get rough.
Dennis Cholowski is still an intriguing option; while he’s been inconsistent thus far, he may be able to secure a full-time spot if he can beat out one of the other members of the bottom-four. With the right patience and work ethic, he has a shot at securing Staal’s role; at worst, he’ll serve on the team’s taxi squad for the foreseeable future.
Two potential offensive predictions
Depending on how Blashill wants to play the roster, he’ll need to select six defensemen and at least two extra players. These two options feel like the most realistic look at the team:
Extras: Cholowski, Djoos
Extras: Staal, Djoos
The line charts will be intriguing on a nightly basis to see what changes Blashill makes with all three pairings. The flexibility is nice, but the talent level is lacking. This offseason, the team made a step in the right direction, but it’s still going to take time.
What do you think of these two projected lineups? Which players should stay and which should go? Let us know in the comments!