As usual, the Detroit Red Wings had another good season, making the playoffs for the 24th time in a row, but were eliminated in the first round by the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Red Wings may have suffered the biggest loss this offseason, losing head coach Mike Babcock to the Toronto Maple Leafs. Babcock has been replaced by Jeff Blashill, who previously coached Detroit’s AHL affiliate. He is a good coach who has had success at other levels and has coached many of Detroit’s current players before, so he will fit in well.
Key Additions: C Brad Richards, RD Mike Green, RD Robbie Russo
Key Subtractions: C Stephen Weiss, LW Erik Cole, RW Daniel Cleary, RD Marek Zidlicky, G Jonas Gustavsson
The Red Wings didn’t add a lot of significant players this offseason, nor did they need to, with a lot of young talent coming up from the minors ready to take on bigger roles. They have made upgrades in certain positions. Stephen Weiss was bought out, which allowed the Wings to bring in Brad Richards, an obvious upgrade. Marek Zidlicky, acquired at the trade deadline, has been replaced by Mike Green, another upgrade.
Projected Lines (All Players Healthy):
Henrik Zetterberg – Pavel Datsyuk – Justin Abdelkader
Johan Franzen – Brad Richards – Gustav Nyquist
Tomas Tatar – Riley Sheahan – Teemu Pulkkinen
Darren Helm – Luke Glendening – Tomas Jurco
Niklas Kronwall – Jonathan Ericsson
Danny DeKeyser – Mike Green
Kyle Quincey – Brendan Smith
Roster Contenders: C Joakim Andersson, C Landon Ferraro, C Andy Miele, C Dylan Larkin, LW Eric Tangradi, LW Tomas Nosek, RW Anthony Mantha, RW Mitch Callahan, LD Xavier Ouellet, LD Brian Lashoff, RD Alexey Marchenko, RD Ryan Sproul, RD Nick Jensen, RD Robbie Russo, G Tom McCollum, G Jared Coreau
A big advantage Detroit has with their roster is superb depth, mostly due to tremendous drafting and development. In addition to great depth on the current roster, there is tremendous depth in the system in all positions.
One concern I have about Detroit is the aging of key players. Datsyuk’s play hasn’t necessarily declined, but he is often injured. Henrik Zetterberg, Johan Franzen, and Niklas Kronwall have all shown signs of decline. Eventually, these players will have to be replaced.
All in all, there aren’t any glaring weaknesses in Detroit’s roster. An interesting thing is the progress of Petr Mrazek, and many have him penciled in as the starter for Detroit this season. Jimmy Howard could eventually be put on the trade block.
As usual, I fully anticipate that Detroit will make the playoffs this season. This is a team that has a very good roster in all positions and could cause some damage this season and in the playoffs.
**Hey Everyone, BLH here. We’ve got some good news and bad news. The bad news is that our famed writer Jack Gruninger is going on hiatus as he attends university. The good news is the rest of the Beer League Heroes crew is going to pick up where he left off with the Season Primer Series. Best wishes to Jack and we can’t wait for his return!**