Detroit Red Wings:
Last season – 8th in the Eastern Conference
Last season, again as the few previous seasons, people have been questioning if this is the year the Red Wings will miss the playoffs. They managed to back in last year, gaining a spot on ROW (Regular or Overtime wins). Now they have lost another cornerstone in Pavel Datsyuk. Will the streak end? I’m not so sure, it will depend on the transitioning skills of some players and development of the young players.
GM – Ken Holland
Holland has been the GM of the Detroit Red Wings since the summer of 1997. The last 4-5 years he has received his share of scrutiny by the demanding “Motor City”-fans, in regards to some bad trades and the lack of replacing key players who have left the team over the years. However, the Red Wings are still icing competitive teams and the streak of reaching the playoffs is at 25.
Head Coach – Jeff Blashill
Blashill returns for his second season in the NHL. Last year, they were in, out, in, out and finally they held of managing to be on the right side for another post-season matchup with the Lightning. Blashill saw his fair share of criticism throughout the year, and is now getting used to being an NHL head coach.
His biggest challenge for the season is to find a way to cover up for Datsyuk’s points and experience, and keep progressing as a team who has been on the re-tool for some years now. Can he manage that?
Frans Nielsen (C), Thomas Vanek (LW), Steve Ott (C), Joe Vitale (C), Matt Lorito (LW)
20th overall pick (Dennis Cholowki, D), 53rd overall pick (Filip Hronek, D)
Pavel Datsyuk (contract, Coyotes), Brad Richards (retired), Teemu Pulkkinen (RW), Martin Frk (RW), Andy Miele (C),
16th overall pick 2016 (Jakub Chycrun)
Goaltending – 7/10
With Petr Mrazek and Jimmy Howard between the pipes, the Red Wings do have a good goaltending duo. However, it’s an expensive duo and it can be a bit inconsistent. Howard is seen as a possible player to get traded in a package to a team who can take on the contract, if Detroit gets something useful back, while Mrazek is seen as a star in the making. Both goalies have the ability to go on a hot streak.
Defense – 6/10
The defense isn’t great, but it’s not bad either. However, it hasn’t been working the way the Red Wings want their D to work. A quick transitioning game and outbreak play from the backend to the forwards. DeKeyser need to take more steps to prove why the Red Wings signed him to his deal.
Kronwall need to turn around the decline he has been on for the last few year and anyone of the youngsters in Marchenko, Ouellet, Sproul need to grab hold of their chance. Smith had a good year last season and must build on that, while Green has to have a bigger impact offensively to justify his contract.
If they don’t manage to step up, they have a system in place that at least make the minimum performance better than in a lot of other teams in the league.
DeKeyser – Green
Ericsson – Kronwall
Smith – Marchenko
Ouellet – Sproul
Forwards – 8/10
The loss of Datsyuk is going to be tough to handle, either way how you look at it. The Red Wings has moved Larking to his original position as a center and signed Nielsen, Vanek and Ott to cover for that. When you’re looking at their roster prior to the start of this season, they actually look like a team with more depth than before.
Head Coach Blashill has said he will start the season with Zetterberg on Nielsen’s wing, which I think will be a blessing for the team down the road. Mainly because Nielsen will take the workload of Zetterberg, but Z as they call him is also a good finisher.
Larkin will get the chance to get his “own line”, and Vanek who’s looking for a rebound season, will add a scoring touch on Helm’s line. Larkin’s line should end up being the first line when the season is going into the rough finishing stretch.
Zetterberg – Nielsen – Tatar
Abdelkader – Larkin – Nyquist
Vanek – Helm – Sheahan
Miller – Glendening – Ott
Jurco – Athanasiou – Mantha
Team Composition – 7/10
On paper this team clearly lack an outstanding defenseman, and an outstanding forward. They also have a group of contracts that can limit them if they don’t play up to their standards. But, they ice a very diverse group who if they find chemistry, will flourish as the season goes forward.
Their fourth line could be one of the better in the league, their top line should produce, so for the Red Wings to have success it’s vital that the middle six forwards and their defensemen produce more offensively throughout the year. They can have one of the best second lines in the league, if it ever gets going.
Their defensemen also have to step it up to win those close games, as far too many got lost last season. The team has added both size and speed to the lineup, so I think they can be marked as a dark horse to surprise many this season.
Leadership presence – 9/10
Detroit never ice teams with low leadership presence, and this season won’t be an exemption. They will be looking at Zetterberg, Kronwall and Abdelkader leading the team, but as always got plenty of personalities in this locker room that will take charge if needed.
Skill Value – 8/10
This is a solid group of players who got plenty of core skills, but the main problem is their lack of top quality decisive makers. Mrazek could be it. Larkin could be it. Anyone of Nyqust, Tatar or the other youngster could be it, if they get going.