Detroit Red Wings Roundtable: Will They Make it 25 Seasons?

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John Fisher

Ah, making Detroit Red Wings predictions for 8 months from now–it must be August. With a full season of injuries, trades, and suspensions yet to even begin, anyone’s prediction could end up looking silly.

But will the Red Wings make the playoffs for the 25th straight season in 2016? You bet they will.

Detroit finished 3rd in the Atlantic Division last year, but only clinched a playoff spot by a measly two points. Not much room for error, but consider the season they had. They spent the last 3 months of the season trapped between Jimmy Howard forgetting how to play goalie and Petr Mrazek still adjusting to the NHL game. Sitting here now, I can’t tell you who will be in net on opening night, but I can assure you it won’t take three months to figure it out this time.

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Now what about Datsyuk and Zetterberg you might say? They are both getting up there in age and are starting to miss some time each year. While this is true and we could see each of them take a step back as their careers start to dwindle down, it’s not as if they single-handedly dragged Detroit to the playoffs all by themselves. Even if those two can’t be counted on as much, I suspect an additional year of growth for Tatar, Nyquist, Sheahan, Glendening, Pulkkinen and company. will be more than enough to make up any lack of production from the Euro-twins.

Then there’s this summer’s roster changes. I don’t see how anyone could argue Detroit’s roster got worse, or even stayed the at the same level they were previously. Mike Green gives the blue line the offensive right-handed shot it has needed for years, and Brad Richards can more than make up for the loss of Stephen Weiss. And hey who knows, maybe this is finally the year Dan Cleary will finally be put out to pasture, opening up yet another roster spot for one of the young guys.

Yet for all the changes Detroit endured, none of it would matter if the Atlantic as a whole improved around them. But it’d be hard to find a division rival who improved as much as the Red Wings did this summer. Tampa Bay seemed satisfied with their team, mostly standing pat. Unless Montreal believes Alex Semin is the answer to their prayers, they didn’t make any noticeable moves (and it’s unlikely Carey Price will repeat his career year performance of a year ago). Ottawa will likely regress, needing some unheard of rookie in Andrew Hammond to carry them for the last 2 months. Hammond was benched in the playoffs so it seems his run was more magical than it was talent. Keeping the theme going, Boston added no one of note, and even lost young star Dougie Hamilton and solid depth center Carl Soderberg without any suitable replacements. Florida should be better with another year under their belt, and Buffalo added lots of young talent, but both are still probably a year or two away from the playoffs. And Toronto? They may have hired the best coach in hockey, but even he can’t win a chess game if all his players are just pawns.

After a few less than stellar summers, Ken Holland made some nice moves this off-season while his contemporaries were mostly quiet. That should help Detroit rise in next year’s standings, and solidifying a spot in their 25th straight Stanley Cup Playoffs.

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