Jan 4, 2014; Dallas, TX, USA; Detroit Red Wings center Joakim Andersson (18) watches from the bench as his team takes on the Dallas Stars at the American Airlines Center. The Red Wings defeated the Stars 5-1. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

What Detroit Red Wings Players Need To Improve?

Apr 8, 2014; Buffalo, NY, USA; Detroit Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard (35) during a game against the Buffalo Sabres at First Niagara Center. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

After letting the first round loss to the Boston Bruins sink in over the last few weeks, we can look back on this Detroit Red Wings season with fresh eyes. In the aftermath, we are far enough removed from the season to not have emotional attachments… or at least ones that aren’t so overwhelming.

It was a question we asked in the latest Octopus Thrower Hangout: What players need to improve most next season?

There’s a lot of good that came from this season, from Gustav Nyquist rocking it out in the last half of the season to all of the Kids finding their roles and meshing on one of the best lines while the top two offensive players were out. The future may be bright for the young guns, but we can’t forget those players who desperately need to knock it up another notch. Without further ado…

Johan Franzen

We shall start with one of the most obvious ones. If you’ve been around the blogosphere or Twitter in the last month or so, you know everyone has been calling for Franzen to be bought out. Ken Holland has come out publicly stating that it’s not going to happen–for what the Mule gives us, he’s at a great price. His streakiness is the frustrating part.

To borrow from Peter’s rankings of individual players:

Normally scoring 19 goals and putting up 41 points in 56 games is a good thing, but this is Franzen. The main reason for the poor grade is because in the last 20 games of the season he was only able to tally 7 points, while looking lackadaisical.

Succinctly put. Franzen needs to try harder. When he was getting hot at the start of the season and when he came back from his concussion, he had great chemistry with Tomas Tatar. Put him on a second line with Tatar. Or drop him down to the third line and see what happens.

Stephen Weiss

This is a given as well. Basically, for Weiss, if he could stay healthy for a long stretch so he can mesh with the team and see where he fits. With four years left on his contract, he has to prove himself still. Playing just 26 games and pushing himself to come back too soon from injury cost him… well, pretty much everything. Weiss has the potential to have a Valtteri Filppula-like output.

He just needs to stay healthy first.

Joakim Andersson

Without looking it up on the Internet, I honestly couldn’t tell you how many games Andersson played. Even when I knew he was healthy, I can’t remember really seeing him on the ice. He just… didn’t seem to make that big of an impact offensively.

65 games and 17 points isn’t terrible, but he missed a fair chunk of time to injury–who didn’t on this team, really?–and when he returned, he just didn’t seem to fit quite as well as before. He needs to make great strides this summer and wow the team come October.

Jakub Kindl and Brian Lashoff

If you could combine Kindl and Lashoff into the same player, you would have a solid defensemen. Kindl’s offensive production with Lashoff’s defensive mindset would create something similar to a Jonathan Ericsson-like defenseman.

Except that they’re still two separate players. Lashoff doesn’t do much offensively and Kindl doesn’t do enough defensively. Even if one of them could better themselves, that would greatly benefit the team.

Jimmy Howard

No, our faith in Howard hasn’t been shaken (at least those of us who know how well he can play). But Howard had one of the worst seasons in his career. After signing a contract that’s lengthy for a goaltender–though not as lengthy as some–Howard has to have a bounce-back year to prove he’s worth the big bucks.

It was his worst season in wins (21) and second worse in SV% (.910) and GAA (2.66). But he worked through it in the last fifteen games of the season to help the Red Wings make the playoffs. No, Howard is definitely not on the decline; he just needs to readjust for the fall.

Will all of these things come to pass? Who knows. Even if half of these players manage to make improvements, fans will breathe a little easier.

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