We've completed The Incompletes
We've ground out The Grinders
We've defended The Young Defensemen
We've initiated The Rookie Forwards
We've valued The Veteran Defensemen
We've saved The Goalies
Now it's time to take a look at the cream of the crop: the top forwards on the 2012-13 Red Wings.
#13 / Center / Detroit Red Wings
Jul 20, 1978
|2012 - Pavel Datsyuk||15||34||49||21||14|
He didn't seem to lose a stride playing in Russia during the lockout, so he should enter the season in relatively-good game shape. He'll once again be counted on to lead the Wings' offense.
Pavel happened. After playing in the KHL and wowing them with moves we've become accustomed to, Pavel started the season strong and kept up his play throughout the entire season. By year's end, he led the Wings in goals and points, and making plays like this and this. He did this despite playing about half of the season with Dan Cleary and Justin Abdelkader as his linemates. In the playoffs, his numbers dropped a little as he was matched up against very tough competition, but he scored a few key goals and was crucial to the Wings advancing past the Ducks. He also continued his defensive dominance by finishing third in Selke voting.
Rumors existed that Datsyuk was heading to Russia to finish his career once his latest contract was done, but he just signed a 3-year extension that will see him remain in Detroit for the rest of his NHL career. Assuming that he can get better linemates next season, the Eastern Conference could be in for a rough ride.
Grade: A (only 2 points against Chicago lowered this from an A+)
#40 / Left Wing / Detroit Red Wings
Oct 09, 1980
|2012 - Henrik Zetterberg||11||37||48||2||18|
There's no reason to believe he can't maintain a point-per-game pace over the course of the regular season. He will get Flip back on his wing and if he can maintain the chemistry he developed with Brunner in Switzerland, they could be the Wings' number 1 line.
In his first season as team captain Zetterberg did keep some of the chemistry he developed with Brunner early in the season. However, as Brunner hit the rookie wall Zetterberg was given Valtteri Filppula back on his wing along with Johan Franzen. The change in linemates didn't slow down Zetterberg, who ended the season second in team scoring with 48 points in 46 games. His goal scoring remained on pace with his career average of just over 20, and he led the team in assists. In the playoffs, after remaining relatively quiet early against Anaheim, he exploded with 5 points in Games 6 and 7 and caused Jonathan Toews to lose his shit in the second round.
Hank's leadership was on display all season as he led a rag-tag group of veterans and rookies to within a game of the WCF. He's the latest in a long line of great Red Wing captains, and he should continue his growth as the de facto leader next season as more youth is injected into the lineup.
#93 / Center / Detroit Red Wings
Dec 23, 1979
|2012 - Johan Franzen||14||17||31||13||41|
It's going to be a shortened season, so Franzen's inability to hit the 30-goal mark won't be as disappointing as it usually is.
Overall the Mule had a pretty decent season all things considered. He was able to stay relatively healthy, only missing 7 games in the regular season. That contributed to a 14-goal/31-point season, which was on pace for 28 goals and 62 points over an 82 game season. Despite the reputation he has as someone who consistently disappoints us, he finished 2nd on the team in goals and 3rd in points, which is where he should be on a team with Datsyuk and Zetterberg. His 4 goals in the playoffs tied him with a bunch of guys for 2nd on the team, but 3 points in each round wasn't a great performance considering that's the time of year that earned him that big contract.
That contract. Oy that contract. It's the harness that hangs around the Mule's neck, and that combined with his comparison to Marian Hossa (17 goals and 31 points in 40 regular season games, for those keeping score) will always prevent Franzen from earning more love from the fans no matter what he does. It's possible the young players coming up will motivate Franzen since he'll have competition for ice time and we'll see the Mule of 2008 instead of the one from 2011.
#51 / Center / Detroit Red Wings
Mar 20, 1984
|2012 - Valtteri Filppula||9||8||17||-4||6|
A full season of playing with Z could see an improvement on his numbers from last season. The fact that he's playing for a contract could mean a huge year, but that could translate into the last season of Flip in a Wing uniform.
Seriously, if this was Flip "playing for a contract" then he must hate money. After FINALLY getting that breakthrough season last year, Flip followed that up by getting hurt overseas and then pretty much not being good for most of the season. A late season surge allowed him to pass Justin Abdelkader in points, but he wasn't able to crack the 10-goal plateau. All told, Flip was on pace for his worst statistical season since he was a rookie.
Unless something drastic happens, we've likely seen the last of Flip in a Wing jersey. The amount of money he is reportedly seeking should be enough to scare the Wings away, and with young players ready to take the next step it is probably time for Flip to move on and be win over a new fanbase with those eyes and that hair.
Grade: D (only because he got hurt in the last game of the year and I'm sentimental over him leaving)