Looking ahead for the Red Wings: Let the teardown begin

The next Red Wings contender will be built around young cornerstones such as Anthony Mantha, left, and Dylan Larkin. Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images

As each NHL team is eliminated from playoff contention -- either mathematically or by losing in the postseason -- we'll take a look at why its quest for the Stanley Cup fell short in 2017-18, along with three keys to its offseason and a way-too-early prediction on what 2018-19 will hold.

What went wrong

The Detroit Red Wings opened the new Little Caesars Arena at the start of the season, and quickly discovered that their roster was staler than week-old Crazy Bread. They had nine players north of 30 years old and were pressed against the salary-cap ceiling.

The Red Wings went 33-36-13 last season, and were a middling 15-16-7 on Jan. 1 of this season. They were 20-21-8 on Feb. 1. They were 26-27-10 on March 1.

In other words, they were consistently mediocre, underscored by a punchless offense (2.52 goals per game, fourth-worst in the league) and a far-too-generous defense (3.11 goals against per game, ninth-worst in the league). If the need for a tear-it-down rebuild wasn't obvious before, it sure is now.