Although it was somewhat of a disappointing season for the Detroit Red Wings, they had players breakout and sort of come into their own. The hope is those players can continue to produce while a few others develop into impact players next season.
Tyler Bertuzzi along with Andreas Athanasiou seemingly took a huge step forward last season for the Detroit Red Wings. Athanasiou was able to record 30 goals for the first time in his career. Star forward Dylan Larkin was able to elevate his game also achieving more than 30 goals.
The Wings hadn’t had a 30 or more goal scorer since 2009 when the team had four players reach the milestone. Marian Hossa led the way with 40, Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk, and Johan Franzen were all able to settle in the ’30s leading the Detroit Red Wings to their second consecutive finals appearances against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Dylan Larkin seemed to take a huge step forward this past season with his active play in all three zones. He was one of the teams’ best penalty killers; he also anchored the teams’ top power-play unit. Larkin had a strong season in the faceoff dot winning 54.5% of his draws. That is quite impressive when you understand that Larkin had never been above 50% over his first three NHL seasons.
Larkin also owned an impressive CF% at 54.4%, when you realize he averaged nearly 22:00 TOI a night on a lottery-caliber team that number simply pops out. Larkin didn’t necessarily break out this season, but he certainly put the pedal to the metal accelerating as the Wings top forward.
Tyler Bertuzzi was a plus 11 on a bad team, he recorded 47 points, scoring 21 goals. All of his production doesn’t come graciously; he needs to work extremely hard for everything. He became the mudder on the Wings top line working down low to retrieve the puck for his talented linemates. He did his job exceptionally well last season. It seems he understands his role and thrives embracing it. He broke out with the Wings last year; the hope is he can improve on his play and continue to develop next season.
Andreas Athanasiou is an elite skater; at times he needs to defer to his teammates as he tries to enter the offensive zone. He draws a crowd leaving his linemates open as he tends to try and do too much on his own.
He skates like a thoroughbred chomping at the bit, waiting for the gate to open. Athanasiou proved he could back up his world-class speed with the ability to snipe. He tends to score in bunches if he can corral the slumps while scoring on more of a consistent basis it will bode well for the depth of the Detroit Red Wings forwards. He was able to thrive playing down the middle for the last quarter of the season; I expect Athanasiou to start next season after his breakout year as the Wings second line center.
Now we have a look at a pair of players who have breakout potential for the 2019-20 season. Honorable mention- – Evgeny Svechnikov but we would like to see how he’s bounced back from the knee surgery that cost him the entire season last year.
Also, Filip Zadina who had an up and down season with the Grand Rapids Griffins. He should start in Detroit next season especially if he has a strong training camp. I personally would like to see him be more dominant in the American Hockey League before making the jump the to show.