Previewing the Detroit Red Wings’ 2014-15 Roster


The Detroit Red Wings’ season starts in 10 days, and as the preseason rolls on, we can start to see what players are going to make a push for the opening night roster- prospects and veterans alike. With a rash of injuries that probably won’t anytime soon, Detroit’s roster has potential to get messy.

Let’s get the easy stuff out of the way- Jimmy Howard will be starting in net, with Jonas Gustavsson as backup. As for defense, the defensive squad will look the same as last year. We could see pairings such as the following:





Defensive prospect Xavier Ouellet should absolutely, positively, 100% be in the lineup at the start of the season, but according to Babcock, Brian Lashoff “isn’t in any trouble”, meaning that XO will probably start in Grand Rapids. However, this statement is a bit cloudy- Lashoff would be the 7th defenseman in most scenarios, due to his low cap hit. Could this mean that someone like Jakub Kindl could be replaced?

The more difficult decisions lie within the offense.

Things were looking good for the Red Wings’ first line about a week ago- Pavel Datsyuk was healthy and ready to go, Darren Helm was poised to play on his right wing, and Tatar showed some chemistry on the left wing during his short time on the line. Now with Datsyuk sidelined for the beginning of the season, things will have to be re-evaluated.

It makes most sense to place Henrik Zetterberg at center on the first line. If Datsyuk were healthy, Zetterberg would possibly be manning the left wing on the first or second line. Zetterberg has the best playmaking ability, and the best faceoff skill, behind Pavel Datsyuk.

At left wing, there are several options. Nyquist deserves a first line spot. If Daniel Alfredsson decides to return for another season, his right-hand shot would be very useful to Zetterberg’s left. If not, Franzen seems to be a renewed force, recently saying, “I want to be a factor up front. I’m one of the guys that should score”. His scoring ability and seemingly fresh motivation would fit well. Justin Abdelkader has been a first-liner in the past, but the role of a grittier player to open up the puck has pretty much been replaced by Helm, and more scoring ability is needed on that line.

As for the second line, we get to see former 60-point center Stephen Weiss make a comeback from a disastrous, injury-plagued season. The former Panther has made a valiant effort to recuperate and become a contributor this year. He will definitely start on the second line. The spots around him are a bit of a toss up; the real battle is for the first line at this point. In the future, it would be best to see Franzen on the right wing, and either Nyquist or Alfredsson on the left wing when Datsyuk is healthy. Until then, we could even see Abdelkader on that line. Mike Babcock will have some tough decisions to make for this line.

Sep 29, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Red Wings right wing Tomas Jurco (26) skates in front of Toronto Maple Leafs goalie James Reimer (34) in the first inning at Joe Louis Arena. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The third line will hold one of the most interesting questions of the preseason- will Tomas Jurco start the season in Detroit? I hope so. The young Slovak earned a spot halfway through last season, ultimately solidifying a spot next to Tatar and Sheahan, who will both remain on that line. Jurco is waiver-exempt this season, meaning that he doesn’t have to be offered to the rest of the league to be sent to the AHL. Jurco has started off slow this preseason, and his roster spot is possibly in jeopardy to someone like Andrej Nestrasil, who is not waiver exempt, and has had a very good preseason to date. Nestrasil is flying very low on the radar in the NHL, and teams are usually very content with their rosters at the start of the season; I don’t see anyone picking him up on waivers. However, if he makes the jump and does well, he’s here for good, and could cause some roster complications in the future. I think the chemistry between Tatar, Sheahan, and Jurco is good enough to overlook Jurco’s rough preseason. He has nothing more to learn in the AHL at this point, and he proved last season he has the skill and tenacity to be an every-dayer on this team. He needs to be on this team from the get-go.

The battle for the fourth line center position will be between Luke Glendening and Joakim Andersson. LGD earned the respect of Babcock last season, eventually being labeled as one of the hardest-working players Babs has ever coached. Andersson has fallen a bit out of favor among Wings fans, losing whatever scoring touch he had, along with a drop in playmaking ability and faceoff efficiency. If Glendening improves his scoring ability, after only scoring one goal last year during the regular season, he will easily out-muscle Andersson for the spot. There will be logjam for the winger positions on the line- Daniel Cleary, Drew Miller, Landon Ferraro, and Mitch Callahan are possible candidates for the line. Miller has earned a spot over the past several years with his relentless effort and penalty-killing ability. Once again, that last winger position is a bit of a tossup.

This would be a very good lineup to see on opening night:









Nothing is set in stone until the puck drops on Opening Night, and no matter the outcome of the roster, not everyone will be pleased. There are many tough decisions to be made. Hold on tight, and may the management’s decisions ever be in your favor.