Now that everyone has had time to let the euphoria of the NHL lockout ending soak in, it's time to get down to business.
Over the next few days, Red Wings 101 will be previewing the 2013 edition of the Detroit Red Wings. Today, we look at the players.
LW Jiri Hudler, D Nicklas Lidstrom (retired), D Brad Stuart, LW Tomas Holmstrom (retired)
THE NEW GUYS:
(*-Samuelsson played four seasons with the Red Wings from 2005-2009)
Keep in mind that this is merely a prediction of what the lineup could look like. Mike Babcock will have the final say on who plays on what line, who is paired with who on the blue line, and so on.
(Number, player, age, games played last season, 2011-12 stats :goals, assists, points, +/- rating, penalty minutes, Avg. time on ice per game)
40 Henrik Zetterberg "C", 32, 82 GP, 22 goals, 47 assists, 69 points, +14, 47 PIM, 19:50 per game
13 Pavel Datsyuk "A", 34, 70 GP, 19 goals, 48 assists, 67 points, +21, 14 PIM, 19:34 per game
93 Johan Franzen, 33, 77 GP, 29 goals, 27 assists, 56 points, +23, 40 PIM, 17:42 per game
24 Damien Brunner (R), 26, first season in NHL
51 Valtteri Filppula, 28, 81 GP, 23 goals, 43 assists, 66 points, +18, 14 PIM, 18:16 per game
37 Mikael Samuelsson, 36, 54 GP, 14 goals, 17 assists, 31 points, +1, 20 PIM, 15:55 per game
11 Danny Cleary, 34, 75 GP, 12 goals, 21 assists, 33 points, +2, 30 PIM, 15:59 per game
43 Darren Helm, 25, 68 GP, 9 goals, 17 assists, 26 points, +5, 12 PIM, 14:31 per game
44 Todd Bertuzzi, 37, 71 GP, 14 goals, 24 assists, 38 points, +23, 64 PIM, 15:33 per game
20 Drew Miller, 28, 80 GP, 14 goals, 11 assists, 25 points, +6, 20 PIM, 12:52 per game
8 Justin Abdelkader, 25, 81 GP, 8 goals, 14 assists, 22 points, +4, 62 PIM, 12:19 per game
22 Jordin Tootoo, 29, 77 GP, 6 goals, 24 assists, 30 points, -5, 92 PIM, 13:09 per game
14 Gustav Nyquist (R), 23, 18 GP, 1 goal, 6 assists, 7 points, +2, 2 PIM, 10:36 per game
25 Cory Emmerton, 24, 71 GP, 6 goals, 4 assists, 10 points, +1, 14 PIM, 8:06 per game
39 Jan Mursak, 24, 25 GP, 1 goal, 2 assists, 3 points, +2, 0 PIM, 7:33 per game
17 Patrick Eaves (Injured Reserve), 28, 10 GP, 0 goals, 1 assist, 1 point, 0, 2 PIM 11:03 per game
ANALYSIS: The Red Wings have been known to have interchangeable parts at the forward spots. Franzen is likely to get moved down if he has a scoring drought at any point in the season. Babcock may break Datsyuk and Zetterberg apart at times in the regular season to add firepower down the middle. If that happens, Filppula can slide over to left wing, or even move up. Bertuzzi is also a candidate to play on the top line.
Speaking of Filppula, he posted a career high in goals last season. Babcock has wanted him to shoot the puck more, and if we were watching a full 82-game season, Filppula could easily score 30+ goals. Samuelsson could recapture some of his old magic that he had in Detroit and Vancouver, and provide a badly needed right-handed shot. Brunner is the real wild card in the group, as both he and Zetterberg played well together in Switzerland during the lockout. Don't be surprised to see the two playing together a lot. Babcock could move Zetterberg to the second line, and move either Filppula or Samuelsson to the top line.
The third line was very productive at times last season. Helm has always been a terror with his speed in the open ice, and he is the best penalty killer on the team not named Datsyuk. Bertuzzi might be better suited for a bottom six role because of his toughness, but that doesn't mean he will stay there all season. In addition, Bertuzzi could be asked to play the role of Holmstrom in front of the opposing goaltender because of his size. Cleary could also be moved up if he improves on his numbers from last season.
Miller will also have work to do if he wants more ice time, but he was productive on the third line last season when paired with Helm and Abdelkader. Abdelkader will likely begin at center, even though he is more effective on the wing. Tootoo brings the role of the pest, whom the Red Wings have lacked over the years. He also brings another right-handed shot.
Nyquist will have every chance to make the team during camp, but he will likely stay in Grand Rapids if he can't make one of the top two lines. In that case, he will be the first forward called up if someone is injured. Eaves still hasn't been cleared medically to play, and he could end up having to end his career due to concussion problems. Emmerton or Mursak could be the odd man out when the season begins. Emmerton showed flashes early, but will need to develop consistency. Mursak played very well in Austria during the lockout, ringing up 17 goals and 27 assists in 29 games, but how he performs in camp will ultimately determine whether he makes the roster.
55 Niklas Kronwall "A", 31, 82 GP, 15 goals, 21 assists, 36 points, -2, 38 PIM, 22:52 per game
2 Brendan Smith (R), 23, 14 GP, 1 goal, 6 assists, 7 points, +3, 13 PIM, 15:38 per game
18 Ian White, 28, 77 GP, 7 goals, 25 assists, 32 points, +23, 22 PIM, 22:59 per game
28 Carlo Colaiacovo (injured), 29, 64 GP, 2 goals, 17 assists, 19 points, +7, 22 PIM, 19:00 per game
27 Kyle Quincey, 27, 72 GP, 7 goals, 19 assists, 26 points, -1, 89 PIM, 21:22 per game (stats include games played with Colorado last season)
52 Jonathan Ericsson, 28, 69 GP, 1 goal, 10 assists, 11 points, +16, 47 PIM, 17:05 per game
4 Jakub Kindl, 25, 55 GP, 1 goal, 12 assists, 13 points, +7, 25 PIM, 14:03 per game
ANALYSIS: Kronwall has big shoes to fill, as he takes over Lidstrom's spot. The good thing about Kronwall is that he has watched Lidstrom the last eight seasons. He also posted a career high in goals last season, and racked up 14 power play points, so he should not have much difficulty getting acclimated to being a number one defenseman. Smith will get the first crack at being Kronwall's partner, and could be the Red Wings' best candidate for the Calder Trophy (given to the NHL's top rookie). Fans will love Kronwall and Smith playing together, as both have developed a reputation for being big hitters.
White began last season strong as Lidstrom's partner, but then he got in a funk late in the season. He was a first pair defenseman because Lidstrom preferred playing with someone who could shoot right handed. He will likely get paired with Colaiacovo as the two played together with the Maple Leafs from 2005 until 2008. It is worth noting that Colaiacovo won't be available until late January or early February with a shoulder injury.
Ericsson or Quincey will likely move up to take Colaiacovo's spot until he returns. Quincey was acquired from Tampa Bay via Colorado last season before the trade deadline. He signed an extension with the Red Wings in the offseason. Ericsson has seemed to perform better in the postseason than the regular season, and will need to step it up if he wants more minutes. Kindl will get playing time while Colaiacovo out. Expect Brian Lashoff to be called up from Grand Rapids to be the team's seventh defenseman if Ken Holland doesn't sign anyone before January 19.
The truth is, the defensemen are all under pressure to perform well. Don't be surprised if someone is signed as a free agent or a trade is made.
35 Jimmy Howard, 28, 57 GP, 35-17-4, 2.12 GAA, .920 save percentage, 6 shutouts
50 Jonas Gustavsson, 28, 42 GP, 17-17-4, 2.92 GAA, .902 save percentage, 4 shutouts
ANALYSIS: Howard is quickly becoming one of the best goaltenders in the league. He will still need to have a big year (at least be in the conversation for the Vezina Trophy) to prove he is the long term solution between the pipes. Gustavsson, better known as "Monster," could get about 20 starts. Look for Monster to improve his numbers with a better quality team in front of him.
While goaltending is not a concern for the Red Wings, if Howard or Monster go down with an injury or just flat out under perform, 20-year old Petr Mrazek could be called up from Grand Rapids given the way he has been playing.
COACHING: Babcock will be entering his eighth season with the Red Wings, and ninth in the NHL. He has compiled a 352-154-68 record with the Red Wings (421-216-101 overall). He will have a new assistant coach with him on the bench, as he hired the former Edmonton Oilers coach Tom Renney back in July to replace Jeff Blashill, who took over as the head coach of the Grand Rapids Griffins. Renney's specialty is working with young talent and the offense. Bill Peters returns for his second year as an assistant. Peters will work with the defensemen and penalty-kill units. Goaltending coach Jim Bedard enters his 16th season with the Red Wings.
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