Eastern Conference Preview: Detroit Red Wings

As we continue our 2014-15 season previews, we’ve already looked at the Buffalo SabresFlorida PanthersOttawa Senators and Toronto Maple Leafs. Now, before they face off at the United Center this evening in the Hawks’ home preseason opener, let’s look at the Detroit Red Wings.

This season could be a significant changing of the guard in Detroit. With only cosmetic changes heading into the new year, the Wings are looking for youth to step into the lineup and supplement their aging stars.

Detroit Red Wings

Additions: none

Subtractions: David Legwand, Daniel Alfredsson(?), Patrick Eaves, Mikael Samuelsson, Cory Emmerton, Jordin Tootoo (buyout)

Propects to Watch: Anthony Mantha, Petr Mrazek, Xavier Ouellet, Ryan Sproul, Alexey Marchenko, Mattias Backman

2013-14 Leaders

  • Goals: Gustav Nyquist – 28
  • Assists: Niklas Kronwall – 41
  • Points: Kronwall, Daniel Alfredsson – 49
  • PIM: Kyle Quincey – 88
  • Power Play Points: Kronwall – 25
  • Time On Ice per Game: Kronwall – 24:18
  • 5 on 5 iCORSI: Tomas Tatar – 208

We’re starting to see some new names filter their way into the leader board for Detroit, with Nyquist and Tatar coming off strong 2013-14 seasons. But they’ll need their youth to mature quickly and their veterans to stay healthy into the postseason to get into the playoffs, much less advance further than last year’s first round exit.

The Red Wings biggest summer priority was getting defenseman Danny Dekeyser to sign an extension, which they recently accomplished with a two-year deal. Unfortunately, Detroit has already been dealt some tough training camp news with word that top prospect Anthony Mantha is out 6-8 weeks with a broken tibia.

The Wings still have Pavel Datsyuk, who remains a magician with the puck. But Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg combined to play only 90 games a year ago, and contributed 85 points in those contests. Having those two – and Mantha – healthy will be critical for the offense in Detroit this season.

Defensively, this is a big season for two of the younger Wings. Dekeyser, working in the first year of a two-year bridge deal, will hope to take another step forward 23 points he registered in 65 regular season games last season. And Brendan Smith, now 25, is only 10 short months away from hitting restricted free agency as well.

In net, Jimmy Howard struggled at times last year; his save percentage dipped and his goals against increased significantly over the prior season. With five seasons remaining on his contract, the Wings need their goaltender to be better this year.

Oh, and this is the final year of coach Mike Babcock’s contract. He would be the biggest name of any kind to hit the free agent market next summer… but most are speculating he’ll never get there.

Prediction: 84 points

Is this the year the Red Wings finally don’t make the playoffs? The biggest factor for them going forward is the health of their two superstar forwards and how well Mantha recovers from his preseason injury.

Pavel Datsyuk

Metropolitan Division:
Carolina Hurricanes
New Jersey Devils
Washington Capitals
New York Islanders
Columbus Blue Jackets
Philadelphia Flyers
Pittsburgh Penguins

Pacific Division:
Vancouver Canucks
Calgary Flames
Edmonton Oilers
San Jose Sharks
Arizona Coyotes
Anaheim Ducks
Los Angeles Kings

2 thoughts on “Eastern Conference Preview: Detroit Red Wings

  • September 23, 2014 at 1:45 pm

    For what its worth, Datsyuk injured his shoulder last night. Injuries continue to plague him. As a hockey fan, that sucks.

  • September 23, 2014 at 5:23 pm

    This roster has many holes. The good thing for the wings is their minor league is about as solid as the Hawks. They have alot of talent in the pipeline however that doesn’t mean that talent is ready to compete this year. Detroit as bowed out early the last few years in the playoffs. Beaten badly by Nashville 3 years ago, Beaten by Seabs and the Hawks 2 years ago and last year beaten soundly by the Bruins. That doesn’t bode well for this season. The arrow appears to be pointing down. Babcock is the best coach in the game but that might not be enough.

    Jimmy Howard has failed to take the next step and they are losing key player at an alarming rate. I’m not sure 80+ points gets them in in the East.

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