The Detroit Red Wings are in an unfamiliar spot to most NHL fans younger than 30. After twenty-four years straight making the playoffs, the teams stars are aging, the goaltending unsettled and coaching a question for the first time in years. Is this the year the streak finally dies?
Detroit Red Wings fans know their best players for the past decade are starting to lose steps. Henrik Zetterberg is an old 34 with all the extra playoff games on his legs. Pavel Datsyuk will answer questions about his surgically repaired ankle once training camp starts. At 37 that injury heals differently than at 27.
In fact one-third of the Detroit Red Wings roster is age 30 or over. I’m not saying Datsyuk, Zetterberg, or Niklas Kronwall are finished. But it’s a natural thing in sports that as players get older, injuries happen more often and are harder to recover from. Last year the Detroit Red Wings were in the middle of the pack in terms of man games lost but the team is a year older now and added Brad Richards (35) and Mike Green (29).
Datsyuk and Johan Franzen missing time gave more ice to young players Tomas Tatar and Gustav Nyquist whom finished 1-2 on the team in goals. Riley Sheahan chipped in 37 points on the third line with potential to move up if Datsyuk isn’t ready to start the season. And if the Detroit Red Wings are known for anything during their playoff streak it’s developing their own draft picks. More good ones appear on the way to keep the Detroit Red Wings reloading instead of rebuilding.
It’s an interesting transition to make from veteran leadership to a new core with new head coach Jeff Blashill. Promoting Blashill from Grand Rapids, where he won an AHL championship, will make losing Mike Babcock easier because of his familiarity with young players like Tomas Jurco, Tatar and Nyquist, among others. Perhaps the best news for Detroit Red Wings fans is that Anthony Mantha will get development time he needs and not rushed to the NHL. You ok with that, Jim Devellano?
One concern GM Ken Holland has is the salary cap. For all the talk about shedding salary in Chicago, the Detroit Red Wings are estimated over the cap now. The easy answer is trading Jimmy Howard and his nearly $5.3 million in salary to bring in added depth on defense. But the goalie carousel seems to have stopped and the Detroit Red Wings didn’t put Howard on it.
It would seem the tandem of Howard and Petr Mrazek will start the season for the Detroit Red Wings, though with Mrazek on the last year of his deal before restricted free agency a move is still possible. Mrazek isn’t going anywhere after taking the starting job away from Howard in the playoffs last season.
So as with any team the Detroit Red Wings have questions. Some about health, others about young talent and goaltending. But the head coach is one of their own and Holland is one of the best GM’s in the game.
You can argue the Detroit Red Wings streak will end this season. As long as Holland is pulling the strings, Zetterberg and Datsyuk are making jaw-dropping highlights and the development machine keeps pumping out talent, I believe the beat – and the streak – goes on.
More from Puck Prose
- Detroit Red Wings 2023 Rookie Camp Has Plenty of Ups and Downs
- This Columbus Blue Jackets rookie doesn’t want to be forgotten
- 2 trades the Boston Bruins must make to secure the Stanley Cup
- 3 reasons the Avalanche won’t win the Stanley Cup in 2024
- This is a big year for Alex Turcotte and the Los Angeles Kings