Players with the most on the line

Continuing with the season preview theme, here are three players that have a lot on the line with their performance. Note I don't mean they are all necessarily at risk for being off the team, just a lot to prove.

1.       Brett Lebda- With Jonathan Ericsson making the jump from Grand Rapids to Detroit and Jakub Kindl making similar progress, Lebda will need to prove he is worth his salary. The problem for him is that even if he can show some improvement, he might be traded away to free up some roster space for a cheaper replacement in Kindl. Lebda has the potential but doesn't always live up to it, reason for me to believe he will be gone sooner rather than later-assuming those waiting in line for the 6th spot continue to develop.

2.       Tomas Holmstrom- Although a fan favorite in Motown-and only in Motown probably-Homer's production has declined and his health has been problematic to say the least. I'm not saying his health issues are unfounded and minute because I know I could take one game of the abuse that he takes, let alone an entire season. But at a certain point, lack of production will cost you a roster spot. Add to the increasing speculation that Holmstrom might be dealt at the deadline, he has a lot to prove about his health and skills. Will the Red Wings be able to find someone that can do what Holmstrom does in front of the net? No, not even close. But they could find another player to fill the $2.25 million void.

3.       Darren Helm-  "The Kid" will be under pressure to follow up on his exceptional playoff performance. Luckily for him, and Wings fans, his skill is high and I don't see it dropping off all that much. With his contract up at the end of the season, Helm could showcase his talents for potential offseason suitors or give himself leverage for a hefty raise in Detroit. Helm has big expectations on his shoulders but could fit nicely into the scoring plans, despite that pressure. Contract years can make or break a young career but hopefully he'll handle it like he handled that epic lone man penalty kill. He has the least to lose but a lot on the line in terms of contract gains.

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