We’re going to take a look at each NHL team, breaking down every new addition and subtraction, as well as promising prospects.
Today, we take a look at the Detroit Red Wings.
By: Andy Hughes (@PensNation_Andy)
Detroit Red Wings
2013 Season: 24-16-8, 56 pts (3rd Central Division, 7th Western Conference)
Daniel Alredsson’s decision to leave Ottawa for Motown was one of the biggest stories of the offseason. (Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Free Agents Signed:
RW Daniel Alfredsson from Ottawa
C Luke Glendening from Grand Rapids
C Stephen Weiss from Florida
Free Agents Lost:
LW Daniel Cleary to Philadelphia
C Valtteri Filppula to Tampa Bay
RW Jan Mursak to Russia
C Francis Pare to Finland
LW Gustav Nyquist
G Petr Mrazek
LW Anthony Mantha
C Calle Jarnkrok
LW Tomas Tatar
The Detroit Red Wings are the one team that never goes away. Before last season, many people thought that they would regress after losing captain Nicklas Lidstrom. That did not happen though. Detroit finished seventh in the Western Conference and made it all the way to the Conference Semifinals where they eventually lost to the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 7. It was a tough loss, but the Red Wings certainly exceeded expectations after losing Lidstrom. RW Henrik Zetterberg had another great season as the new captain of the team by notching 11 goals and 37 assists in 46 games. He led the Red Wings to their 22nd consecutive playoff appearance, which is the current record in North American sports. They hope to extend that record this season in the Eastern Conference, which is their new home.
In order to improve their offense, the Red Wings made a big splash this offseason by signing RW Daniel Alfredsson to a one-year, $5.5 million contract. No one expected Alfredsson to leave Ottawa after playing his entire career there, but Detroit convinced him to. The 40-year-old certainly is not as fast as he used to be, but he can still produce offensively. He will most likely be placed to the right of new acquisition C Stephen Weiss, who signed a five-year deal worth $24.5 million with the Red Wings. Weiss injured his wrist last season and only managed to play in 17 games. The 30-year-old has reached the twenty goal plateau four times in his career. Weiss and Alfredsson will have large roles with Detroit, especially after LW Daniel Cleary and C Valtteri Filppula departed in the offseason.
Zetterberg and C Pavel Datsyuk figure to be a force on the team’s first line once again this season, but age and health is certainly a big question mark for this team. Over half of the projected top-six forwards are over the age of 30 and the Red Wings also employ veterans such as LW Johan Franzen and RW Todd Bertuzzi. When it comes to Franzen, health is always a big concern. They have talent up front, but an injury or two could really hurt them. One young forward to watch with Detroit is LW Gustav Nyquist, who may be in line for a breakout season after getting into 22 games last season with the team.
On defense, the top pairing will most likely consist of Niklas Kronwall and Jonathan Ericsson. Detroit’s blue line will need some youngsters such as Danny DeKeyser to step up this year. The Detroit native played in 11 games last season with the Red Wings and may have a larger role this season as a 23-year-old.
The biggest key or X-factor for the Red Wings this season has to be goaltender Jimmy Howard. The 29-year-old netminder recorded a 21-13-7 record in addition to a 2.13 goals-against average, which was the ninth best in the NHL. There were moments in the postseason last season where Howard stole the show and he may have to do that quite a bit this season since Detroit’s scoring has declined the past two years.
Jimmy Howard will play a big part in how the Detroit Red Wings fare in their move to the East. (Getty Images)
Alfredsson, Weiss, and Nyquist all should help Detroit compete for the Atlantic Division crown, but it will not be easy. Their average age may become a concern as they head in to the postseason, but they are the Red Wings, after-all. Expect Detroit to extend their record to 23 straight playoff appearances. Why? Well, because it’s the Detroit Red Wings. They always find a way to keep things the same when they undergo major changes.
Justin Abdelkader-Pavel Datsyuk-Henrik Zetterberg
Gustav Nyquist-Stephen Weiss-Daniel Alfredsson
Johan Franzen-Darren Helm-Tomas Tatar
Drew Miller-Joakim Andersson-Todd Bertuzzi
Niklas Kronwall-Jonathan Ericsson
Jakub Kindl-Danny DeKeyser
Brendan Smith-Kyle Quincey