|Kevin Porter – C||David Legwand – C|
|Andy Miele – C||Todd Bertuzzi – RW|
|Daniel Alfredsson – RW|
|Mikael Samuelsson – RW|
The Detroit Red Wings went 10-5-2 in their final 12 games of 2013-14 to extend their playoffs streak to 23 consecutive seasons. Finishing in the final Wild Card spot, the Red Wings took on the tough Boston Bruins, who bounced them in five games.
This offseason, the Red Wings missed out on all of the big name free agents that they were targeting, but an abundance of young, talented players will slide into bigger roles and Detroit’s success will hinge largely on the production they get from those young players. It will also seem like the Wings are adding 31-year old Stephen Weiss, who missed 56 games after signing a five-year deal with the Red Wings last offseason.
Detroit’s two best players are undoubtedly Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg, but at 36 and 33-years-old respectively, it is time to start thinking about passing the torch. Both players have been relatively healthy for the majority of their careers, but each missed 37 games last year, something the Red Wings can not have happen in 2014-15. Dats and Zetty should each be second-round picks this season and should both easily be point-per-game players–hopefully for the Red Wings that will be 80 points in 80 games, not 45 in 45.
Amidst all the injuries last season, the door opened for Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Tatar, Riley Sheahan and Tomas Jurco to burst onto the scene. Nyquist was ridiculous. He finished the season with 28 goals, including a stretch of 11 goals in 10 games and 23 in 28. The 24-year-old will land in the Wings’ top-6 and shoot for his first 60-plus point season. Tatar, Sheahan and Jurco should all make the team out of camp and could be joined by 19-year-old Anthony Mantha. For the second straight year he led the QMJHL in goals as he lit the league up for 57 goals (120 points) in 57 games. He also led Val d’Or to the Memorial Cup with 24 goals and 14 assists (38 points) in 24 playoff games. Clearly the kid is crazy talented and will be given every opportunity to make the NHL roster this year.
Looking at the blueline, veteran Niklas Kronwall is their top fantasy option. He has missed only three games in the last three seasons (all last year) and had his second best point production season of his career, posting 49 points (8G / 41A). He will be drafted as a top-20 D-man with the upside to crack the top-15. The only other legit fantasy defenseman in the D is 24-year-old Danny DeKeyser. In his first full NHL season, DeKeyser took on huge minutes (averaged 21:38 TOI) and played very well in both ends of the rink. He had four goals, 19 assists (23 points) and a plus-10 rating in 65 games. He will be on the Wings’ second pair and first power-play unit, which makes him a candidate to potentially crack the top-50 fantasy defensemen.
Jimmy Howard enters his sixth season as Detroit’s starter. He had a down year in 2013-14, but over the last three seasons he still has a 2.31 GAA and .918 SV%. With strong play, Howie should start 60 games and should post number similar to the ones mentioned above. Detroit brought back-up Jonas Gustavsson back on a one-year, but should Howard struggle, ‘The Monster’ will get a shot, just like he did last season. Overall, Howard is a top-20 goalie option and makes for a high-end number-2 option.
Look to the Draft (Ranking Red Wings’ Fantasy Players)
- Pavel Datsyuk – C
- Henrik Zetterberg – LW
- Gustav Nyquist – LW
- Niklas Kronwall – D
- Jimmy Howard – G
- Johan Franzen – RW
- Tomas Tatar – LW
- Danny DeKeyser – D
- Stephen Weiss – C
- Riley Sheahan – C
Click HERE for the Red Wings’ potential line combinations heading into the 2014-15 season.
Season prediction: Detroit will finish fourth in the Atlantic division and finish in the Wild Card again, extending their playoff streak to 24 seasons.