Last season: 48-28-6, 102 pts, 3rd Central, 4th Western Conference, out in 1st round.
Additions: Andrew Murray, Jonas Gustavsson, Jordin Tootoo, Mikael Samuelsson.
Losses: Niklas Lidstrom, Brad Stuart, Chris Conner, Fabian Brunnstrom, Garnet Exelby, Jiri Hudler, Ty Conklin.
Offense: For the most part the Red Wings offense remains unchanged. While future status of Tomas Holmstrom still floats in limbo and the parting ways with enigmatic Jiri Hudler leave spots to be filled, this should give Gustav Nyquist some time to show that he is ready for the big leagues. Otherwise, the usual suspects you would expect to score at a typical pace unless the defense overhaul provides difficulty in transition games and breakouts to the offensive somewhat limits this potential. Expect business as usual from the likes of Zetterberg, Datsyuk, And Franzen. This would be a great year for Valterri Filppula to take another sizeable leap forward and become one of the games newest stars and holding out hope that the return of Mikeal Samuelsson will work out like his first stint with the club did.
Defense: Oh man, this is going to be one different defense corp that the wings will ice this season. Detroit has had their sum of all fears come true as surefire first ballot Hall of Famer and arguably the best defenseman in the last 30 years in Niklas Lidstrom’s retirement. Also they shipped of Brad Stuart to San Jose while losing out on the free agent frenzy of prized UFA Ryan Suter. This leaves Niklas Kronwall as the leader of the Red Wings blue line supported by Kyle Quincey. Jonathan Ericsson will be under some pressure to take the next step as it will be very much needed. The corp rounds out with Ian White a Jakub Kindl with the hope that top prospect Brendan Smith transitions to full time duty smoothly.
Goaltending: While it is no doubt that Jimmy Howard is the goto guy in net and one of the better goalies in the league, if there is a moderate dip in his stats due to such overturn on the blue line don’t be surprised. I like Gustavsson as backup, I feel he is quite a bit better than you seen in Toronto and should spell Howard more effectively than Conklin.
Prediction: 7th in West, 3rd in Central. I would be hard pressed to suggest the Red Wings can maintain such a high level after this offseason. While I see then floating on the cusp of missing the playoffs for the first time since…um…well a long time, the moderate decline in overall strength in the Central Division will help them barely hold on in 7th with 96 pts.
Standout Player: Pavel Datsyuk. The obvious choice to lead the Red Wings on the ice, he will be able to focus on his elite and highlight reel play with the expectation of the captaincy to either Zetterberg or Kronwall. Get ready and enjoy the amazing moments from Datsyuk, they’re gonna be plentiful and awesome, as usual.