Detroit Red Wings: Predicting how the Atlantic Division will Shape Up

DETROIT, MI - APRIL 07: Detroit Red Wings forward Dylan Larkin (71) is congratulated by his teammates on the bench after scoring a goal during the third period of a regular season NHL hockey game between the New York Islanders and the Detroit Red Wings on April 7, 2018, at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, Michigan. New York defeated Detroit 4-3 in overtime. (Photo by Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
DETROIT, MI - APRIL 07: Detroit Red Wings forward Dylan Larkin (71) is congratulated by his teammates on the bench after scoring a goal during the third period of a regular season NHL hockey game between the New York Islanders and the Detroit Red Wings on April 7, 2018, at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, Michigan. New York defeated Detroit 4-3 in overtime. (Photo by Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /
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Detroit Red Wings
(Photo by Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images) /

The Detroit Red Wings: 6th

The Detroit Red Wings are a better club even with all their holes than the previous two mentioned.  The Detroit Red Wings have a brighter future and more rising talent within.  Yes, the defensive group struggles often.

The aging veteran players Ken Holland and Jeff Blashill prefer, limit the offensive upside.  When the goaltenders are struggling, they seem like they wouldn’t be able to stop a floating feather, that is how ugly it can be.

The departure of Henrik Zetterberg hurts the depth and reliability among the Detroit Red Wings forwards.  If the Detroit Red Wings were in a position to contend, the loss would be devastating.  At this time the loss is almost a blessing in disguise.  The departure allows the Wings to insert a young forward into a line-up of mediocre middle-aged forwards.

With Michael Rasmussen expected to make the team, 6th overall pick Filip Zadina and a couple of younger defenders.  The Detroit Red Wings add more youngsters to youthful established players, Dylan Larkin, Anthony Mantha and Tyler Bertuzzi.

Finally, Ken Holland is starting to build a younger club.  The Detroit Red Wings average age always nears the eldest in the league, still hovering around 30 years old.  That is much too old in today’s NHL.

Key Players;

Dylan Larkin is set to lead the Detroit Red Wings.  Larkin is now by far the Red Wings best all-around player.  He’s the best two-way player on the team.  Expect Larkin to lead the Detroit Red Wings forwards in average ice-time and points. If he continues to progress, we can start to call him a dynamic play-maker.  He hasn’t reached his full potential quite yet.

Anthony Mantha should lead the Detroit Red Wings in goals this season.  At times Mantha has forgotten to keep his feet moving and needs to improve his game without the puck.  Mantha if he puts his mind to it should be a physical force who can pot 30 goals.

Andreas Athanasiou at times enters head coach Jeff Blashill’s dog house, and it seems no matter what he does positivly it takes quite some time to evacuate said dog house.  Athanasiou if granted more ice will produce offensively and create constant scoring chances with his world-class speed.

Future Stars;

Filip Zadina and Michael Rasmussen both while in the Detroit Red Wings line-up need to play like top 9 forwards to produce.  These players can’t provide or develop in a positive way buried on the fourth line.  Jeff Blashill cannot play this pair the same way he’s played Martin Frk and Evgeny Svechnikov in the past.

Dennis Cholowski has looked the part throughout the preseason.  A much-needed position upgrade for the Detroit Red Wings.  The NHL defenders that are currently rostered are either past their prime or trending in the wrong direction.  Joe Hicketts, Libor Sulak and Filip Hronek are all coming.  The word star is a stretch, but Cholowski seems like the one who has top pairing potential down the road.

The Ugly;

The back-end for the Detroit Red Wings is a significant problem.  Jonathan Ericsson and Nick Jensen should both lose their jobs to younger defenders.  Will they though?  Probably not, Jeff Blashill would instead, roll out a slow, limited upside veteran player than watch a rookie take his lumps.

Niklas Kronwall is a good leader but can only contribute as a 6th defenseman these days.  The problem in Detroit is they have a bunch of 6 and 7th caliber defenders.

Danny DeKeyser is 28 years old and will be the veteran in a couple of years from now when the dust settles.  Mike Green, Jonathan Ericsson, and Trevor Daley all have two years left on their deals.

Eventually, we will see full-scale changes on the back-end, until then it will continue to be under the “ugly” category.

The goaltending is a question mark.  The Detroit Red Wings brought in Jonathan Bernier to push Jimmy Howard who is in the final year of his contract.  Both goaltenders will find themselves struggling to produce with a weak defense core in front of them.  Expect a lot of ups and downs.

Expect the Detroit Red Wings to be in the draft lottery mix as seasons end.