Detroit Red Wings: Predicting the line combinations for 2021-22

(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /
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Detroit Red Wings, Lucas Raymond
(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /

Detroit Red Wings rookie forward Lucas Raymond has earned an opportunity to start his career on the top line.

Here is the first surprise of 2021-22 for the Detroit Red Wings.

It’s not shocking to see Detroit’s phenom, Lucas Raymond, earning a spot on the opening night lineup, but it should be surprising to see that he is penciled in alongside Larkin and Bertuzzi on the top line.

Playing alongside Larkin and Bertuzzi sort of insulates Raymond and also lengthens out the lineup.

This is a big deal if head coach Jeff Blashill happens to agree with me on Raymond.  Historically the Detroit Red Wings like to ease their first-year players into the lineup.  For years it was Anthony Mantha, struggling to find himself elevated from the fourth line.  Then it was Michael Rasmussen and Filip Zadina finding themselves buried on the depth chart.

After Steve Yzerman took over as the franchise’s general manager, the direction of player development quickly changed.  Instead of playing developing scoring wingers with fourth-line grinders, Zadina, in particular, found himself playing as a top-nine forward struggling or not.

Earlier in the preseason, head coach Jeff Blashill claimed that Raymond would need to perform like one of the teams’ best players if he hopes to make the Red Wings to start the year.  This is because they’d rather he develop in Grand Rapids as a top-line player seeing nearly 20-minutes per night rather than withering away on the fourth line in Detroit, as I spoke of just a couple of paragraphs ago.

With Jakub Vrana on the shelf for at least four months after shoulder surgery, it makes sense to see what Raymond’s got to begin the season.  If he’s clearly not ready when the games count, the organization can send him to Grand Rapids after a ‘free’ nine-game stint which will not start his entry-level contract clock.

Detroit Red Wings first line prediction: Dylan Larkin (C), Tyler Bertuzzi (LW) Lucas Raymond (RW).