Detroit Red Wings Lack of Toughness Throughout the Organization a Concern?

Detroit Red Wings v Toronto Maple Leafs
Detroit Red Wings v Toronto Maple Leafs / Graig Abel/GettyImages

The Detroit Red Wings have always had a skilled team. Gordie Howe, Steve Yzerman, Sergei Fedorov, Nicklas Lidstrom, and Pavel Datsyuk are a few names that brought excitement and offense to the Motor City. They have also had well-rounded teams that had offensive firepower, was strong defensively, and could play the physical style as well. Two of those factors remain today.

Detroit Red Wings need well-balanced roster

The lack of physical play or a guy to consistently protect his teammates may be hurting this team more than some may realize. Captain Dylan Larkin has been targeted, mainly from the back of the neck and small of his back. Forward Alex DeBrincat has been the victim of a slewfoot. Young star Lucas Raymond has been pushed around. Star defenseman Moritz Seider can play a physical role but he is also the leader and offensive producer from the back end so he needs to stay out of the box.

Larkin has been severely injured a number of times without any teammates coming to his aid. Dallas Stars forward Jamie Benn cross-checked Larkin on the back of the neck several times after losing a faceoff. Larkin would leave the game and miss the rest of the season with Benn receiving no suspension or fine. After Tampa Bay Lightning forward Mathieu Joseph slammed Larkin into the boards, Larkin got up and swung at Joseph from behind, resulting in a one-game suspension. Larkin was again injured in a game against the Senators, Joseph's new team, this season where he laid unconscious in the slot.

The last threat the Red Wings had was Darren McCarty, who had 116 fights on his NHL career and before him Detroit had a heavyweight in Bob Probert. However, since McCarty left Detroit to sign with the Calgary Flames after the 2005-2006 season, the Red Wings have yet successfully filled that void consistently, bringing fear to the opposition not to touch the untouchables in Detroit's lineup. General Manager Steve Yzerman had signed forward Kim Klostin in this past off-season but he has only played 23 games and has 38 hits.

Last season, Detroit's main penalty minute leader was veteran David Perron. Players like Perron are in the lineup because of their scoring, veteran leadership, and presence in the locker room, not to be the one who sticks up for teammates as this is not his role.

Detroit has a projected cap space of $2.420 million and that would be able to bring a constant physical presence in the lineup. The other issue is that this is not only in Detroit but the entire organization. The Grand Rapids Griffins of the American Hockey League (AHL) and the Toledo Walleye of the ECHL do not have the kinds of players that fit this mold who can protect teammates on anightly basis and can fight when needed. In a sport where fighting still happens, this is a problem for the Detroit organization.

What if the next hit Larkin receives leaves him requiring back or neck surgery? What if DeBrincat or Raymond is sucker punched and are out for an undermined amount of time? Yzerman played with Probert, McCarty, and Joe Kocur so he knows the importance of these players. Detroit needs to acquire a forward that meets these requirements before a Red Wings player is seriously injured or suffers a career-threatening injury.