Just one day into the 2013 NHL free agency bonanza, is it too early to start dreaming about how the Detroit Red Wings might look offensively when the puck drops on the upcoming season? Of course not, especially when the Wings added two big pieces like Daniel Alfredsson and Stephen Weiss.
Ken Holland said yesterday that the newcomers will give Mike Babcock more balance when he puts together lines, and it’s not hard to see how that will be the case. In fact Alfredsson and Weiss should help give Detroit what are essentially 1A and 1B forward lines instead of traditional first and second units. To see what I mean, let’s take a look at the possibilities:
Obviously Pavel Datsyuk is the number one center, but there are all kinds of ways Babcock could choose to deploy the guys on either side of him. If he wants to keep Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg on the same line, Hank fits in perfectly on the left, and if Alfredsson has enough left in the tank to play first line minutes, he’d no doubt have a ton of fun playing with the Wings’ most established stars.
Datsyuk also seemed to benefit from the speed and grittiness of having Justin Abdelkader on his line late last year, even if that move was made somewhat out of necessity. Returning Abdelkader to that spot would allow Babcock to keep Zetterberg on a separate line, an option that ensures opponents have more to worry about.
Weiss was signed to center this unit, pure and simple, with the idea that he’ll be more productive than Valtteri Filppula. Putting Johan Franzen on his right makes all kinds of sense, hopefully giving the Mule more playmaking than he got at times last season.
Left wing is interesting, as it’s not hard to envision Gustav Nyquist here if he is re-signed. His play down the stretch certainly warranted top six ice time. If Zetterberg is on this line, maybe Alfredsson is too. It just seems like they are fated to play together given the comments that have been made thus far.
Thinking about the different combinations certainly makes it easier to make peace with the possible (or maybe probable) departures of Damien Brunner and Dan Cleary. That leaves just one thing to do: fire up NHL 13 and take a crack at having some of the fun Babcock will get to experience in just a few months.
How do you think the Red Wings’ top two forward lines will shake out with Alfredsson and Weiss on board? Drop a comment below and let us know.