The Detroit Red Wings’ 2013 Lineup Analysis: Forwards


Detroit will have to make up for the loss of Tomas Holmstrom (far left) on the powerplay this season. Photo Credit Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Finally, the 2013 season is upon us.

After almost four months of hockey fans around the country having to endure the ups and downs of lockout negotiations, we can breathe a collective sigh of relief: there WILL be a season this year, and it WILL start (at least for the Red Wings) on Saturday, January 19th. Red Wings fans in particular should be excited, as the shortened season as well as some high-profile additions to the roster should provide for an interesting season.

In the days before the season, I will be providing a line-by-line analysis of the opening day roster. Today I will begin with the forwards.

Line 1: Zetterberg – Datsyuk – Brunner

Wow. Just…wow. This may be the most talented line in the Western Conference. The addition of Brunner next to Pasha and Sasha finally gives them a bona fide sniper with speed to burn – something they haven’t had since…well, ever. Datsyuk will continue his embarrassment of the world’s defensemen one league at a time, while Zetterberg hopes to bring his amazing chemistry with Brunner back to North America. Oh, I think Z might have some chemistry with Datsyuk too, or something. Sorry Vancouver, but I like our Euro twins better.

Projected production:

Datsyuk:    40 GP, 14 G, 33 A, 47 P

Zetterberg: 48 GP, 18 G, 30 A, 48 P

Brunner:     48 GP, 25 G, 19 A, 43 P

Line 2: Franzen – Filppula – Samuelsson

This season, Valtteri Filppula looks to prove that his career year in 2011-2012 wasn’t a fluke. Photo Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Analysis: A boom or bust line. If Filppula can show that his career year in 2011-2012 wasn’t a fluke and Franzen can finally find his consistent scoring touch, the Wings will have the deepest offense in the league. If not, they become a glorified, overpaid checking line. Samuelsson may be my least favorite of Detroit’s offseason moves. At best he’s a third line winger, and he’s the main reason Gustav Nyquist is stuck in the AHL. Boo. My guess is that he finishes the season on the 4th line.

Projected production:

Filppula: 44 GP, 10 G, 25 A, 35 P

Franzen: 48 GP, 20 G, 15 A, 35P

Samuelsson: 38 GP, 9 G, 5 A, 14 P

Line 3: Cleary – Helm – Bertuzzi

Analysis: One of the better third lines in the league, for sure. This line can do it all. Helm continues to blossom into an elite defensive forward with the ability to contribute offensively – if he can ever figure out how to finish a play – and having Bertuzzi on his right gives him some offensive prowess and a big body to help feed him the puck and make room for him. Dan Cleary is very representative of this line in that he’s the proverbial jack-of-all-trades, and he has a lot to prove in a contract year, especially considering his last few seasons. Look for a bounce-back campaign from him. He especially has the potential to make or break this line.

Projected production:

Helm: 48 GP, 5 G, 19 A, 24 P

Cleary: 44 GP, 10 G, 15 A, 25 P

Bertuzzi: 48 GP, 15 G, 9 A, 24 P

Line 4: Miller – Abdelkader – Tootoo

Analysis: Finally, some grit. The Wings haven’t had toughness in the mold of Jordin Tootoo in a very long time.

Jordin Tootoo (bottom) fights with Chicago’s Brandon Bollig. Hopefully he brings this kind of heart to Detroit. Photo Credit: Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports

Abdelkader finally has a teammate, and a linemate no less, that will stand up and fight besides him. All members of this line also have some two-way skill; Miller scored 14 goals last season and absolutely dominated with the Braehead Clan in Scotland during the lockout, Tootoo put up 30 points in 2011-2012, and Abdelkader has the size, speed, and offensive upside that should have him start to put up decent numbers sooner rather than later.

Projected Production:

Abdelkader: 48 GP, 6 G, 9 A, 15 P

Miller: 48 GP, 8 G, 9 A, 17 P

Tootoo: 40 GP, 5 G, 5 A, 10 P

Despite the losses of Tomas Holmstrom, Jiri Hudler, and Chris Connor, the Red Wings continue to carry one of the deepest forward corps in the league. There are a few question marks, but this is true of any team. Look for Detroit to rely on their bolstered offense to make a deep run into the playoffs this season.

On a separate note, I would like to give a huge thank you to my fellow staff writers Christina and Jordan, as well as the editor here at Octopus Thrower, Peter Fish, for giving me such a warm welcome and making joining the team an easy and seamless process. It’s an honor to write for all you Red Wings fans out there, and I look forward to providing quality commentary and news about the best team in the league for a long time to come.

Follow me on twitter : @dzkefalas

Go Wings!