As of this very moment, statistically the Red Wings have less than a 50% chance of making the playoffs. With Zetterberg, Datsyuk, Weiss, Abdelkader & Ericsson all not likely to return before the playoffs it looks like the statistical odds will hold true. There, I said it. I don’t think the Wings make the playoffs this year.
On the ice I can think of many reasons how the Wings fall short, where they’re weak and places for improvement but when it comes down to it, they’re not the Red Wings. My favourite team name I’ve heard this year is the Grand Detroit Griffings.
Zetterberg & Datsyuk would likely account for an extra 2-3 wins over the last couple months, a key goal here, good defensive play there and one goal losses turn into one goal wins. The way things are shaping up Detroit is likely to miss by only a few points. I hate excuses but a healthy Red Wings comfortably make the playoffs.
Here’s the thing though. Who are they? What is their identity next year?
Detroit for virtually my entire life has been ‘that old team’. Next year though, they will not be and this gets to my point, who makes the cut next year? Guys like Sheahan, Jurco, Glendenning have come up as injury replacements and filled their roles admirably. Danny Dekeyser has arguably been the Wings most reliable defenseman this year and he’s a rookie. Nyquist and Tatar are having sensational sophomore seasons. On top of that, Grand Rapids is currently stacked with guys getting very close to being NHL ready. Also, Anthony Mantha, can’t forget Anthony Mantha.
The thing I’ve pondering is what is Ken Holland’s objective this off season? Load up on Free Agents? Stand pat and let the prospects develop? Hybrid those options? If you’re reading this, I’m assuming you want to read what I have to say so here’s my ideal 14-15 Wings roster.
Legwand, Alfredsson, Bertuzzi, Quincey, Gustavsson & Samuelsson are all UFA’s this summer. I’d be shocked if any one of them is resigned (unless Alfie decides to go one more year).
Sheahan, Tatar, Glendenning and Dekeyser are all RFA’s. They will all be resigned, if any of them are not we need to re-evaluate Ken Holland’s status as a top notch GM.
With those predictions in mind, here’s my line up.
Zetterberg – Datsyuk – Franzen
Nyquist – Sheahan – Tatar
Abdelkader – Helm – Jurco
Miller – Weiss – Glendenning
Kronwall – Ericsson
Dekeyser – (a signed UFA, hopefully Niskanen)
1st line, ridiculous. 2nd line, they’ve played together this season and have been insanely good together (and they’re all young!!). 3rd line, adequate amount of grit and skill. 4th line, Weiss ends up here by default and Miller may be one of the best 4th line grinders in the league.
Defense has been bad this season. Can not sugar coat it, Quincey and Smith have been awful, Kindl has been inconsistent and Ericsson has been hurt. So very hurt. Kronwall and Dekeyser are the only two guys who have been reliable all season. They need help and I think Holland knows it.
The problem is that the UFA market for defense this summer is weak, very very weak. Thanks to all the in depth analysis of the Team Canada’s Olympic selection process, we know that Babcock likes a righty/lefty dynamic on the back end. The ironic part, The Red Wings do not have single right handed defenseman this season! Rookie Alexei Marchenko is likely the most ready defensive rookie and *gasp* he shoots right. Looking at the UFA list, the top Right handed shooting defenseman is, IMHO, Matt Niskanen. Go get ‘em Kenny, we know you have the cap space.
This all being said, I would not be surprised if Holland signs a top 6 forward (either Alfie or a UFA) because let’s face it, these projections are all under the assumption the team stays healthy. I know, I had a good laugh at that thought too.
Also, Anthony Mantha will not play next year. I’d be completely baffled if he gets more than a couple games. He does one thing very, very well and that is scoring goals. The rest of his game still needs a lot of work and knowing Detroit’s patience, he will spend at least one season in GR, if not two. Also, barring many injuries there will be no room for him. (It can’t happen two years in a row, right? RIGHT? Fine, I’ll go sob in the corner)
There it is, my prediction for the 2014-15 Detroit Red Wings. The youthful up and coming team with enough top end talent to make a run. This does’’t sound right and yet I’m excited about it even if it is all the confusing feels.
Still though, this season sucks. Curse you hockey gods.