Today's player preview focuses on two of the more...seasoned veterans on the Red Wings roster. Between them, they have 2,569 regular season and 388 playoff games played at the NHL level as well as five Stanley Cups. That's a lot of games and a lot of experience offered by these two players, something that could be helpful as the younger guys like Helm, Abdelkader, Miller, Eaves and Ritola are worked into the roster over the season.
Mike Modano will be spending his first season in Detroit and his first NHL season for a franchise other than the Dallas Stars/Minnesota Northstars. Modano returns to Michigan to play for the home team for the first time since 1985--I wasn't even born yet. Modano is the all-time leader for several categories for American born players including goals scored and points scored. Kris Draper has been with the Red Wings since the early 90s and has become an integral part of the Red Wings both on and off the ice. His work ethic has been exemplary for players that have been through Detroit and has endeared him to fans of the Wings throughout the years.
Follow the jump to talk about the two players.
2009-2010 NHL Stats
When you think of the Dallas Stars, you think of Mike Modano. However, he's now back in his home state of Michigan, playing for the Red Wings. After an incredible career in Dallas, the front office chose not to retain him and the Red Wings made the offer to him. Modano is a future Hall of Fame player that can still compete at a high level in the NHL. His production may have dropped off over the years but he is still an all-world talent that could fit in very well in Detroit. Modano's career with the Stars included a Stanley Cup in 1999 as well as 8 All-Star Game selections. Modano symbolized the Dallas franchise throughout the years but his time in Detroit is now beginning. The question now is how that time will suit him.
Strengths: Modano is deceptively big on the ice. At 6'3" 210, he'll look like a giant next to Jiri Hudler on the projected third line and will be able to use his speed to help make plays the other way. He's got great defensive skills in addition to his very capable offensive skills. He'll be on the third line most likely so the amount of chances he gets to show that skill may be limited but he can still score at a good pace.
Weaknesses: Modano's physicality is limited so that may be a factor but then again, he's been in the league since 1989 so he's probably learned to deal with it. His offensive skills are declining at this stage of his career but he's still capable. It'll be interesting to see what a change of scenery does (if anything) for his play.
Expectations: Modano will likely start the season playing alongside Dan Cleary and Jiri Hudler. I like this set up for him as he'll paired with an excellent passer in Hudler and a tough, hardworking, always in the right spot Cleary. I think Modano will chip in somewhere between 12 and 16 goals and about 15 assists--but I wouldn't be surprised if he had a bit of resurgence in a new location and in front of his hometown crowd.
2009-2010 NHL Stats
Draper came to the Red Wings in the 1993-1994 season, following intermittent action with the Winnipeg Jets. Draper split time between Adirondack and Detroit during his first year within the organization. He saw limited action the following season but his games played escalated after those first two seasons and he's played more than 50 games in every season after that. He won two Stanley Cups early on in his career but perhaps the thing he's most often remembered for is being the target of Claude Lemieux's dirty hit. The hit gave Draper a concussion as well as a broken jaw, nose and cheek. It was the spark that ignited the Red Wings and Avalanche rivalry of the late 1990's. Draper's one of the original "Grind Line" members and has played alongside teammate Kirk Maltby for a good portion of his career. Recently, he's taken on a sort of mentoring role by playing alongside guys like Darren Helm, Justin Abdelkader, Patrick Eaves and Drew Miller, teaching them the ropes of that style of play at the NHL level.
Strengths: Draper's most often known for his faceoff and defensive prowess--probably why he won the Selke Trophy in 2004 huh? Draper's a skilled and quick skater (even at age 39) that is a tenacious forechecker and penalty killer. He's excellent in his end of the ice and can get back up ice on the offensive rush to help out with scoring. The aforementioned faceoff skill is something that is very highly respected about Draper's game and
Weaknesses: Draper's weaknesses lie in the scoring department. His scoring numbers have been in decline over the past five seasons. But, given his role on the team it's not necessary for him to score goals and he's more than capable of setting up teammates so it evens out.
Expectations: Draper will probably see some diminished time this season because of the logjam at forward. Mattias Ritola, Patrick Eaves, Drew Miller and Justin Abdelkader will all be in competition with Draper for that ice-time so he will probably sit some to get the younger players into the fold. I would expect him to play around 60 games and chip in five goals and 10-13 assists.