DETROIT RED WINGS
2008/09: 51 -21 -10 – 112 pts (1st in Central, 2nd in West)
Arrived: Todd Bertuzzi (CGY), Jason Williams (CBJ), Patrick Eaves (CAR)
Departed: Marian Hossa (CHI), Mikael Samuelsson (VAN), Jiri Hudler (KHL), Tomas Kopecky (CHI), Chris Chelios, Ty Conklin (STL)
What could be worse than losing in game seven of the Stanley Cup Finals? Perhaps losing 3 prominent forwards that brought you there. Following the long-term signings of both Henrik Zetterberg and Johan Franzen, the Red Wings found themselves up against the NHL’s salary cap and unable to retain three key forwards in Marian Hossa, Mikael Samuelsson and Jiri Hudler. Hossa led the Red Wings in goals with 40 and was third in points with 71. This season the Red Wings will be looking to replace around 80 goals. They have filled their three vacant forward spots with the free agent signings of Todd Bertuzzi, Jason Williams and Patrick Eaves. The Wings say their emphasis will be on defense this year. There are many doubters of the Red Wings for this season, but let’s not forget they were only a couple of goals away from the Cup last season and won the cup two seasons ago WITHOUT Marian Hossa.
FANTASY WORTHY FORWARDS
Pavel Datsyuk (C) – Expect 30+ goals and 90-100 points. Datsyuk is coming off two straight 30+ goal and 97 point seasons. Although defence doesn’t show up too often in fantasy hockey this back to back Selke Trophy winner provides fantasy owners with great plus minus having been above plus 30 in each of his last 3 seasons. The only flaw in Datsyuk’s fantasy game is that his career high in penalty minutes is 35 and that was 5 seasons ago.
Henrik Zetterberg (LW) – A couple of nagging injuries appeared to have hindered Zetterberg’s production last year yet the Swede was still able to put up 73 points in 77 games. That being said last season was quite a drop off from the 92 points he had in 75 games played in the 2007-08. In the last two playoff campaigns Zetterberg has shown he is an elite NHL player and would be no surprise to see him reach the 100 point mark in 2009-10. Playing along side Pavel Datsyuk, Zetterberg is capable of scoring 50 goals, but is likely to be near 40 as coach Mike Babcock often splits up the two all-stars. A good estimate for Zetterbergs 2009-10 campaign would be 40 goals and 50 assists. Much like Datsyuk and most of the Red Wings, they will only benefit your fantasy team’s plus minus. Originally listed as a LW, Zetterberg finally gained center status last season in Yahoo leagues.
Johan Franzen (C) – Last season Franzen signed an 11-year contract extension with the Red Wings and it was one that was well deserved. Over the past two seasons Franzen has emerged as an NHL caliber goal scorer. He notched 34 goals in just 71 games last season playing behind the like of Datsyuk, Zetterberg and Hossa. With Hossa gone Franzen is going to be counted on toscore more and may see some time on the first powerplay unit with Datsyuk and Zetterberg which will only improve his numbers. Franzen has the potential to be a mid to late round steal in your fantasy draft as he has shown he is capable of putting up 40 goals in a season. In addition to his center eligibility, last season Franzen gained right wing eligibility on fantasy sites such as Yahoo as he typically plays the wing when Zetterberg and Datsyuk play on separate lines.
Dan Cleary (RW) – Cleary finished last season playing right wing on a line with Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk. If this combination carries over into this season Cleary could solidify himself as fantasy-worthy player. Coming off of back to back 20 goal seasons, Cleary’s production slipped last year as he recorded 14 goals and 26 assists. Much of this is likely due to the acquisition of Marian Hossa. With Hossa gone Cleary will likely play in the Wing’s top 6 and receive a good share of powerplay time, especially with Tomas Holmstrom’s production continually slowing. Cleary may be a surprising pick in deeper leagues and has the potential to have eligibility at both wing positions.
Todd Bertuzzi (RW) – Take caution, Todd Bertuzzi is nowhere near the player he once was. However, with that being said he may still be an effective player in deeper fantasy leagues. Big Bert had 15 goals and 29 assists in 66 games for Calgary last season The Red Wings are expecting around the same for him this season and so am I. Let’s say 15-20 goals and 30-35 assists. The 74 penalty minutes he had last season would have led the Wings (though that’s not saying much).
Jason Williams (C) – Williams has spent the last two seasons playing top six forward minutes in Chicago and Columbus. He will be battling the likes of Bertuzzi, Eaves, and Cleary for those minutes this season. Jason may have an upper-hand as he spent 6 seasons in Detroit and knows the system well. If he does receives top 6 minutes Jason should score around 20 goals and 30 assists, making him a viable option in deeper leagues. He also has the opportunity to replace Mikael Samuelsson on the point of the 2nd powerplay unit although the Wings may go with 100 mph slapshot of young Johnathan Ericsson.
Keep an eye on: Valterri Filpulla, Ville Leino, Tomas Holmstrom
DRAFT WORTHY DEFENCEMEN
Nicklas Lidstrom – A song comes to mind. “Simply the Best”. Oh Tina Turner. In all seriousness, draft Nicklas Lidstrom to your team and you won’t be disappointed. Lidstrom’s ice-time was cut a bit last year and is likely to be the case this season yet he is still capable of putting up between 10-15 goals and about 50 assists.
Brian Rafalski – One of the best puck movers in the league, Rafalski’s production will be quite similar to Lidstrom’s. With three consecutive 55-plus point season Rafalski is a top 10 fantasy d-man. Don’t expect many PIMS from him though, as with Lidstrom.
Niklas Kronwall – Kronwall had a breakout campaign last season reaching 50 points for the first time in his career and once again making the Red Wings’ management team look genius. Unfortunately for Nik he has hit the Detroit Red Wing defensive glass ceiling. Until Lidstrom or Rafalski retire there isn’t much room for growth in Kronwall’s stats as he just won’t be given the opportunity. Kronwall was only plus two last season down from a plus 25 the season before. Expect that to improve and his offensive numbers to stay where they are.
Keep an eye on: Johnathan Ericsson
BETWEEN THE PIPES
Chris Osgood – Simply put Chris Osgood’s 2008/09 season was horrific. Many Osgood owners of a year a go will be reluctant to draft him again this year. I disagree and think this year will be a great year to draft Chris Osgood. His poor performance last season and the fact that many people believe the young Blackhawks will surpass the Wings atop the Central Division will lower his draft day value allowing you to draft him in later rounds. Osgood will likely see more starts this season as the departure of Winter Classic veteran Ty Conklin leaves inexperienced Jimmy Howard as the backup. If you play net for the Wings, more starts equals more wins. With a good chunk of their goal scoring gone the Wings will need to focus on defense and Osgood’s numbers should improve drastically.