(The 2015-16 NHL season is nearly upon us! Why bother watching this team? What will make or break the season? Find out as we preview all 30 teams as camps begin!)
Last Season: 43-25-14, 100 points, third in Atlantic Division
2014-15 Season, In One Tweet
Did They Get Better, Worse, Or Are They About The Same?
This is a tough one. The roster is relatively the same with a couple big additions, but the change that could have the biggest impact of them all comes from behind the bench: the departure of head coach Mike Babcock.
For the first time in 10 seasons, the Red Wings will have a new face leading the troops in Jeff Blashill. He spent the last three seasons as the head coach of the franchise’s AHL affiliate, the Grand Rapids Griffins. In the ‘12-’13 season, Blashill won a Calder Cup with many of the players on his current roster.
As for personnel, Ken Holland made Mike Green his highest paid defenseman (cap-wise) and added recent Cup winner Brad Richards. Gustav Nyquist signed earned a 4-year, $18-million bridge deal. The GM handed out one and two-year deals like they were candy, some of the notables are: Joakim Andersson, Brendan Smith, Andy Miele, Landon Ferraro (son of Ray), Eric Tangradi, Teemu Pulkkinen, Tomas Jurco, and Daniel Cleary.
Stephen Weiss and Erik Cole were allowed to walk.
Five Most Fascinating Players
1. Mike Green, D
After what feels like years of waiting for it to happen, Green finally left Washington, and did so on his own accord. Green had his best offensive season since ‘09-’10. Sure he’s not putting up 70-plus points anymore, but he stayed relatively healthy and added 45-points in 72 games. He's not a shutdown defenseman but he'll give another a edge to the attack on offense.
2. Brad Richards, F
Richards reinvigorated his career in Chicago, earning himself another Stanley Cup. The Blackhawks couldn’t afford to pay the center the $3-million he wanted and Detroit was willing to. He, like many players late in their careers, moved to the franchise that has become the Florida for soon-to-be retirees. Richards can help keep Pavel Datsyuk healthy by taking some of his faceoffs.
3. Jimmy Howard, G
Who doesn’t love a good goaltending controversy? Early this past season, Howard was a huge part of the Red Wings success... then he was carted off with a major groin injury. He wasn’t quite the same when he came back, but luckily for the Red Wings, Petr Mrazek took over where he left off. Now coming into camp with two healthy goalies, is Blashill going to go with his boy Mrazek from Grand Rapids, or give Howard the benefit of the doubt as the preeminent No. 1?
4. Pavel Datsyuk, F
There has been much speculation this off-season about how much 37-year-old has ‘left in the tank.’ He was one point behind Henrik Zetterberg for the scoring lead on the team, so the hands are still there. How about the wheels? Datsyuk had ankle surgery in late June. He is expected to miss the beginning of the season and could be out as late as November. Yet, this is Datsyuk and he is a freak of nature. Probably won’t miss a beat.
5. Dylan Larkin, F
For years, Detroit has followed the mantra of bringing their prospects along slowly. For Larkin, this may not be the case. He decided to leave the University of Michigan to try to make it as a pro and has impressed at camp thus far. The seas are parting for Larkin as the injury to Darren Helm and recovery of Pavel Datsyuk have cleared a way for him to make the roster. If he can stick, that’s another story.
Potentially The Best Thing About This Team
The young kids. Mrazek, Nyquist, Tomas Tatar, Riley Sheahan, and Tomas Jurco (to name a few) all played for Blashill in Grand Rapids. They can play at the NHL level and adding a familiar coach will add to their comfort level in the leagues. Unfortunately for the rest of the NHL, they're going to be really good as they get older together.
Potentially The Worst Thing About This Team
Both Jimmy Howard and Petr Mrazek are inconsistent, bad, and/or injured.
Dream 3-on-3 OT Group
Datsyuk is defensively responsible enough to be on the ice with two other forwards, like Henrik Zetterberg and Tomas Tatar. While he’s out of the lineup, put Green with Zetterberg and Tatar and watch the magic happen.
Coach Hot Seat Rating (1-10, 10 being scorching hot)
Two. The leash is long for Jeff Blashill. Ken Holland could have gone outside of the organization to replace Babcock, but decided to go with the guy who knows the up and coming core the best. Blashill tapped Tony Granato and Chris Chelios to assist him. This is Chelly’s first go as an NHL assistant. That should be fun.
Awkward Old School Video Break
Perhaps this is what happened to the Stanley Cup in Chicago?
Their Best Case Scenario Is ...
The transition is seamless between Babcock and Blashill. The Red Wings have a lot of positives to build on from last season like a power play ranked second overall.
Their Worst Case Scenario Is ...
(See 'Potentially The Worst Thing About This Team.')
The mix of vets and young talent is relatively even, but the Cup window is closing on the old guard. The team will make the playoffs because that’s what they do; however, going deep isn’t likely at this point.
PUCK DADDY SEASON PREVIEW 2015-16: Winnipeg Jets/Washington Capitals/Vancouver Canucks/Tampa Bay Lightning/San Jose Sharks/Pittsburgh Penguins/Philadelphia Flyers/Ottawa Senators/New York Rangers/New York Islanders/New Jersey Devils/Nashville Predators/Montreal Canadiens/Minnesota Wild/Los Angeles Kings/Florida Panthers/Edmonton Oilers
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