It’s time for the second edition of our end-of-season Detroit Red Wings team awards!
Last week, we handed out awards to the most valuable player, the least valuable player, and the top rookie from the 2021–22 Red Wings. That piece can be found here.
This time around, we’re looking at three entirely different categories: most improved player, biggest surprise, and fan favorite player.
We’ll kick things off with a look at which player took the biggest step forward with the Red Wings in 2021–22.
Most improved player: Tyler Bertuzzi
Finalists: Bertuzzi, Michael Rasmussen, Marc Staal
Bertuzzi had a career year setting personal bests with 31 goals and 62 points. Many questioned Bertuzzi prior to this season because of his vaccination status but all of that was quickly forgotten once he stepped foot on the ice.
His 2.4 WAR according to Evolving-Hockey tied with Moritz Seider for the team lead and he led all forwards in ATOI with 19:53. Along with Dylan Larkin, Bertuzzi carried this team offensively on most nights.
With just one year remaining on his contract, Steve Yzerman has a difficult decision to make. If he decides Bertuzzi is not part of the long-term future in Detroit, he could trade him for substantial assets. If he decides to keep him, he gets a star winger that we know can be relied on.
Rasmussen and Staal both had solid years but their roles don’t compare to the value Bertuzzi provides.
Biggest surprise: Jakub Vrana
Finalists: Vrana, Marc Staal, Gustav Lindstom
Jakub Vrana exploded onto the scene at the end of the 2020-21 season scoring 8 goals in his first 11 games as a Wing, but a pre-season shoulder injury kept him sidelined for the first 56 games of this season.
After missing such a large chunk of the season, Vrana wasn’t expected to produce much down the stretch but again he produced immediately upon entering the lineup. With 13 goals and 19 points in 26 games, Vrana provided the offense this team was desperately craved all year.
He now has 21 goals in his first 37 games as a Red Wing compared to just 11 in his last 39 games as a Capital. He has proven that he is a legitimate top six scoring threat and will be a massive part of this team in the years to come.
Marc Staal was much improved from his 2020-21 season and ranked fourth on the team in WAR according to Evolving-Hockey. He provided steady leadership and consistent defense while also scoring his most points since 2014-15.
Gustav Lindstrom was impressive in the first half of the season but couldn’t be relied on for the full 82. If he can return to his first half form, he will be an important piece on next year’s squad.
Fan favorite player: Lucas Raymond
Finalists: Raymond, Moritz Seider, Robby Fabbri
There were high expectations when Lucas Raymond was selected fourth overall in 2020 and he lived up to them in his first season. With 57 points in 82 games, he ranked third amongst all NHL rookies and third on the Wings.
Drafted behind Alexis Lafreniere, Quinton Byfield and Tim Stutzle, Raymond has outscored all three of them on a per game basis in their young careers. If there were to be a re-draft, teams would strongly consider selecting Raymond first overall.
With Raymond, Bertuzzi, Vrana and Fabbri all signed through next season the scoring depth on the wing looks strong. If a prospect like Jonatan Berggren can break out next year, there isn’t much needed in terms of scoring wingers.
Robby Fabbri also deserves some recognition here. He has revitalized his career after two devastating injuries during his time as a St. Louis Blue and been a solid middle-six forward. Unfortunately, his season was cut short after he sustained yet another major knee injury. Hopefully he can defy the odds again and return even stronger in the fall.
- Why Detroit Red Wings defenceman Moritz Seider should win the Calder Trophy
- Cossa remains sharp as Oil Kings push Winnipeg to the brink in WHL playoffs
- Magnus Hellberg has earned another contract with the Red Wings
Looking to up your fantasy hockey game? DailyFaceoff has the tools you need for both daily and season-long fantasy leagues, including a lineup optimizer, daily projections, and a whole lot more. Sign up for the DailyFaceoff tools here.