September 19, 2013 by andymisek
The Red Wings have been a playoff team for the last 22 years. That’s how long I’ve been alive! The Wings are heading out east from here on out and playing within their own time zone. With the team’s stars returning and new conference with less travel, it would be hard to believe Detroit would miss the playoffs. However, with an aging group of players, their window of success seems to be closing quickly. Despite their age the Detroit Red Wings finish #13 on our NHL Season Countdown.
With 20th pick in the 2013 draft, Detroit selected Anthony Mantha, a large right winger who plays for the Val-D’or Foreurs in the QMJHL. He scored 50 goals and 89 points in 67 games in 2012-2013 and will be looking to put up similar numbers when he returns to the Foreurs this year.
In free agency, Detroit added leaders from two of their new division rivals. Ottawa’s Daniel Alfredsson and Florida’s Stephen Weiss will be suiting up for the Red Wings. Notable subtractions are Valtteri Filppula (Tampa Bay) and Damien Brunner (Professional try out in New Jersey) who left as free agents and Carlo Colaiacovo whose contract was bought out by the Wings.
Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk and Johan Franzen are all returning to Detroit another year older. Also new acquisitions Stephen Weiss and Daniel Alfredsson are no spring chickens. All of these guys are on the wrong side of thirty, and while they are still very skilled, father time is catching up. They will start to slow down and new faces in Detroit will have to start taking over.
Players like Gustav Nyquist and Tomas Tatar could end up being the new faces of the franchise. Both are young promising players looking to start their rookie and sophomore seasons respectively. Not to mentions plethora of prospect forwards: Calle Jarnkrok, Teemu Pulkkinen and Tomas Jurco.
Pulkkinen didn’t make a great first impression, receiving a 5 minute major and game misconduct in his first shift of his first preseason game against the Blackhawks for his hit on Michael Kostka. He also has an in person hearing with Brendan Shanahan (in person means the suspension could be more than five games).
–Hit is the first half of the video—
Detroits bottom six is getting younger and features players just entering their prime. Darren Helm (26-years-old) and Joakim Andersson (24-years-old) will grab spots over the older Mikael Samuelsson (36-years-old) and Jordin Tootoo (30-years-old). Helm has proven he is a fantastic third line center and Andersson can kill penalties. Todd Bertuzzi is the old man of the bottom six (38 years old).
Niklas Kronwall is the anchor on the blue line since Nicklas Lidstrom left. Those are some big shoes for Kronwall to fill, but he has played well since taking over as number one defenseman. He is known for his bone crunching hits and he is defensively sound. His hits never draw him out of position.
Also in Detroit’s top four is Danny DeKeyser, a 6’3″ defenseman who signed at the end of Western Michigan’s season in 2012-2013. DeKeyser played in 11 games and two in the playoffs before a broken thumb ended his campaign. DeKeyser has a promising future in Detroit, but he might need to add a little more bulk if he wishes to reach his potential.
Rounding out Detroit’s defense are veterans Jonathan Ericsson, Jakub Kindl, Kyle Quincy and sophomore Brendan Smith. The most interesting of the bunch is Smith. He is a promising defenseman who struggled to crack Detroit’s line up until Lidstrom retired. His rookie numbers were anything but impressive: only amassing eight assists in 34 games. He needs to show more if he wishes to earn a larger role with the Wings.
Jimmy Howard is Detroit’s number one goalie. The hopeful Team USA netminder has played well his first four years in the NHL, collecting 35+ wins each season until the 2013 shortened campaign. It would be hard to believe Howard won’t have 50 starts and win over 30 tilts. Jonas Gustavsson is a capable back-up but nothing more. If Howard stays healthy, Gustavsson is strong enough to play 20-25 games and give Howard those nights off.
Detroit’s window of being a playoff regular team might be closing. If the promising core of forwards don’t meet expectations, the Wings are in for a rough few years down the road. Until then, Datsyuk, Zetterberg and Kronwall have enough in them to push Detroit into the playoffs for another year. Once you’re in the playoffs, anything can happen.