Some huge changes have taken place on the Detroit blueline this off season.
Gone are the $6 million Brian Rafalski and the there but never really noticed Ruslan Salei.
Here are Ian White fresh from San Jose and lead by the diving champion of the NHL Joe Thornton and Mike Commodore who had issues ending his time early in Columbus; seeing himself in the minors last season then eventually bought out of his contract.
Captain Nicklas Lidstrom fresh off of yet another Norris Trophy win is now 41 years old and it is time to get realistic – his time on the Detroit blueline is limited. It is time for Niklas “Nik Jr.” Kronwall to step up to the next level.
Known as a heavy hitter and trying to single handedly destroy the stereotype of the “Soft Euro Player” Kronwall has had his run with injuries over the years but has also had great offensive showings like in the 2008-09 season when he racked up a career high 51 points.
Andrew over at The Nightmare on Helm Street has a piece worth reading about who is really Rafalski’s replacement. He brings up the fact that Ian White is another right handed shot, but he has not had the offensive spark that Rafalski has had. One thing An drew did not bring up was that the Red Wings already have Rafalski’s horrible turnovers covered with the declining play of Jonathan Ericsson. It probably really did not need to be said.
Kronwall is more than a potential offensive threat and a hard hitting nuisance that still knocks Matrin Havlat off his game (enjoy that San Jose enjoy that).
Nik is a leader to the team. If you ever get the chance to talk with him he is extremely soft spoken (not to the extreme of Brad Stuart though) and is more of a let my actions speak for me than go around bragging type player. Maybe he got that from a fellow Swede that he idolized growing up…
What Kronwall really means to the Red Wings as a team and as an organization can be summed up in this picture from this past season….
Kronwall may or may not be Rafalski’s replacement. They are from two different molds; but the big question now has become: Is Kronwall the next inline to accept a letter with the Red Wings now that Kris Draper has retired?
Tags: Brian Rafalski Detroit Red Wings Ian White Joe Thornton Kris Draper Kronwalled Kronwalling Letters Martin Havlat Mike Commodore Nicklas Lidstrom Nik Kronwall San Jose Sharks Soft European Players Swedish Defenseman