J.J. kicked off our season series recapping and grading the players by looking at the Wings' 2 best forwards. Today, we shift our focus to Detroit's version of the Swedish (fraternal) Twins and look back at the seasons of Tomas Holmstrom and Johan Franzen. These two guys entered the 2010-11 season on different developmental arcs, as Holmstrom is clearly on the back 9 of his career while Franzen is in the middle of his prime. Both players were expected to be contributors offensively for the Wings, particularly on the power play.
Preseason Expecations: In the preseason preview post for these two players, the theme was about bouncing back after injury-plagued 2009-10 seasons. Holmstrom was coming off a 25-goal season, but in a year in which he missed 14 games (including the entire 2010 Winter Olympics). Franzen sustained a torn ACL in the third game of the year and missed all but 27 games. While he did put up 21 points in the 27 games he played in the regular season, he just wasn't the Mule of old as he tried to get back to game shape after the surgery.
Follow the jump for the breakdown of each player and their final grades.
#96 / Left Wing / Detroit Red Wings
Jan 23, 1973
Holmstrom was able to stay relatively healthy over the course of the 2010-11 season, except for that pesky broken hand he sustained when he was struck by a slap shot. He would miss 9 games, but his 73 GP was the most for Homer since 2006-07. However, despite playing in 5 more games this year than in 2009-10, Holmstrom saw his offensive numbers go down across the board, registering 7 less goals and 8 less points than he did a season ago. However, he was still a force on the power play, scoring over half of his goals on the PP. Despite a less-than-stellar -6 rating, he's never been known as a defensive force, and his adjusted CSSI shows him to be a +18, owing in large part to an additional 24.5 assists.
What he did well: He is still the best net-front presence in the entire NHL, and will own that title until the day he retires. While his numbers were down from last year, he was still the Wings' 5th leading goal scorer on the season, so his overall offensive performance must be viewed in perspective. The biggest positive to come from Homer's season was the fact that his only injury was an accident that could have happened to anyone, and was not due to the constant abuse he takes in front of the net from opposing defensemen and goalies. He's still a force on the power play, and his ability to park himself in front of the net allows the other forwards more room to make plays. He was good in the playoffs, where he had 7 points in 11 games, including 2 GWG.
What he did not do well: Holmstrom has long had a reputation as a guy who will take ill-advised penalties, and this season was no exception. He finished third on the Wings with 62 PIM. There were too many times this season where Homer was going to the box either for shooting a puck over the glass or for going after a player on the other team after a whistle. I also thought that over the course of the season, Holmstrom seemed to be a step behind the rest of the players on the ice. He's never been the greatest skater, but it seems like the game is speeding up while he is slowing down. His inability to keep up with the other team's top players resulted in his demotion to the fourth line during some games, especially when the Wings had a lead and needed to hold.
Overall grade: This is about what Holmstrom did this year, not about what will happen going forward. This year Holmstrom was pretty good at times, bad at times, but overall decent. He didn't do anything truly spectacular, but 18 goals on a team where the leading goal scorer had 28 is not that bad. The penalties were an issue throughout the season, but he kind of made up for that by scoring 10 goals while the other team was down a man. It wasn't his best year, but it wasn't his worst one, either. Overall, I'm going to give him a B-.
#93 / Center / Detroit Red Wings
Dec 23, 1979
Johan Franzen came into this season determined to stay healthy. A torn ACL against the Chicago Blackhawks took away the majority of his season in 2009-10, and after setting career highs in goals and points in 2008-09, it was expected that the Mule could return to that form and potentially reach the 40 goal plateau for the first time in his career. He was also entering the second year of an 11-year contract, and was anxious to prove that he was well worth the commitment from the Wings' front office. He was able to stay relatively healthy all year and play in 76 games, and he led the Wings in goals (28) and set a career high in assists (27), but his 55 points were 4 off his personal best. He did register the first 5-goal game for the Wings since Sergei Fedorov did it against the Washington Capitals in December of 1996. The Mule's effort came in an ugly 7-5 win over the Ottawa Senators, but it was followed by a stretch of 14 games that saw him unable to score a goal. His playoff season was shortened after a nasty hit by Shane Doan in Game 2 of the first round left him with an ankle injury that would hobble him for the rest of the postseason. As a result, he only scored 2 goals in the 8 games he played in, but it was clear he was not 100% healthy.
What he did well: Despite falling short of the 40-goal expectations many of us had for him, he still led the team in goals, and his 5 GWG were tied for second on the team. His 11.3 S% was on par with his career average, which is pretty impressive considering he took nearly 250 shots. The Senators game will go down as one of the greatest single-game performances of a Red Wing in the last 20 years. He had 3 points in the 3 games he played against Phoenix, but it was obvious that the ankle injury was significantly affecting his ability to skate, and it made him very ineffective against the Sharks. He was also able to remain relatively healthy, only missing 6 games all year.
What he did not do well: There were many times this season where we were calling out Franzen for his apparent lack of effort. He had a minor concussion after a hit by Dallas' Mark Fistric early in the season, causing him to miss 1 game. It seemed like he was going through the motions, not being engaged physically. After scoring 5 goals against the Senators, he only tallied 2 over the course of the rest of the regular season. There were also many questions surrounding his defense this year, although he has never been known as a good two-way player.
Overall grade: There's no question that Franzen is one of the best players on the Wings, and is the best pure goal-scorer currently on the roster. However, despite remaining healthy and leading the team in goals, I think this year was a disappointing one for the Mule. Big things were expected of Franzen this year, and he was very disappointing in the latter half of the year. I thought he was average at best, but I'll give him a C+ for becoming a father for the first time.