Welcome to the final edition of our four-part series at WingsNation tracking all the former members of the Detroit Red Wings currently participating in the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
We’ve already looked at the Pacific, Central, and Metropolitan Divisions over the last two weeks. Since we began, the Colorado Avalanche (Darren Helm) and St. Louis Blues (Nick Leddy) have advanced to the second round. It pays to have an ex-Red Wing!
The Atlantic Division playoff teams are relatively light on former Red Wings compared to their counterparts from the other three divisions, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t any connections to explore.
The four qualifying teams in the Atlantic all have Red Wings alumni in their respective organizations. We’ll kick off our breakdown in Boston.
The current iteration of the Bruins only has a couple of connections with the Red Wings, and neither are that meaningful.
Bruins forward Tomas Nosek kicked off his career in North America with the AHL’s Grand Rapids Griffins in 2014–15, eventually making his way up to the National Hockey League and playing 17 games with the Red Wings over the following two seasons.
Tomas Nosek joins in on the fun.
5-1 Bruins. pic.twitter.com/YYeRReUMq3
— Conor Ryan (@ConorRyan_93) January 2, 2022
The Red Wings exposed Nosek in the 2017 NHL Expansion Draft. The Vegas Golden Knights made Nosek their pick from Detroit and used him as their No. 4 left wing for much of the next four seasons; after a successful tenure in Vegas, Nosek signed a two-year deal as a UFA to join the Bruins last summer.
Bruce Cassidy also has ties to the Red Wings organization, although they aren’t very strong. Boston’s head coach served as the bench boss in Grand Rapids from 2000 to 2002 before joining the Washington Capitals as head coach for the 2002–03 season.
The Panthers have even fewer Red Wings connections than the Bruins.
Ulf Samuelsson is the only member of Florida’s coaching staff who has ever been associated with the Red Wings. The 58-year-old assistant coach was once a punishing NHL defenceman who played a total of 13 games with Detroit at the very end of the 1998–99 season.
Samuelsson has been an assistant or associate coach in the NHL since 2006, working for the Phoenix Coyotes, New York Rangers, Chicago Blackhawks, and Panthers.
Tampa Bay Lightning
The Lightning do have a player who suited up for games with the Red Wings this very season, although his tenure in Detroit was very brief and he’s not currently on Tampa’s main roster.
Remember Gemel Smith? How could you not? The 28-year-old forward joined the Red Wings via waivers earlier this year, playing three games before being waived again and heading right back to Tampa Bay.
— everett (@borntodanhard) February 15, 2022
The brother of current Red Wings forward Givani Smith, Gemel has appeared in 91 NHL games during his career (including eight with the Lightning) and is currently involved in the 2022 Calder Cup Playoffs as a member of the AHL’s Syracuse Crunch.
Toronto Maple Leafs
The Leafs can easily lay claim to the most significant contingent of ex-Red Wings among the Atlantic Division playoff teams.
Petr Mrazek leads the way in that regard, although “leads” is a relative term. The 30-year-old goaltender appeared in just 20 games with the Leafs this season (despite his $3.8 million cap hit until 2024) and posted an underwhelming .888 save percentage.
What’s worse: Erik Kallgren has seemingly unseated Mrazek as the Leafs’ backup goaltender as the latter recovers from a groin injury. While Mrazek remains a Maple Leaf for now, don’t be surprised if GM Kyle Dubas tries to move on from the longtime Red Wings netminder this summer.
Ex-Red Wings forward and coach Paul MacLean is also in Toronto, having served as an assistant coach on Sheldon Keefe’s staff since 2020. MacLean played one season with the Red Wings in 1988–89, scoring 71 points in 76 games, and also coached under Mike Babcock in Detroit from 2005 to 2011 (winning the Stanley Cup in 2008).
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