The leaves are changing, there's pumpkin pie in the oven, my dad is saying swear words at Lions Football, and oh wouldn't you know, The Coolest Game on Earth is upon us! As we count down the days to the 2014-2015 NHL regular season, we're taking a look at each part of our beloved Detroit Red Wings. Today, we'll have a look at our top-wingers. For many reasons, the reason the team was able to stay relevant last year was due to it's depth and talent on the wing.
So with that being said, let's get down to the good stuff, folks...
#11 / Right Wing / Detroit Red Wings
Dec 11, 1972
Old Man Sweden. As of right now, we don't really know if he will be back or not. I would love to have him back, and it's obvious the rest of the team feels the same way. As of right now, he is unable to skate.. And I just don't see how it he returns. He's not in his 20's anymore, so the road to recovery could take months, even years. If they are to bring him back, I would like to see them work out a verbal agreement and possibly have him signed around the trade deadline as a way to add depth if the team is looking like they will make a deep run.
Strengths: Aside from having a luscious Swedish caboose, Daniel Alfredsson is still an offensive threat for his shot alone. Even at 42 years old, Alfie provides an absolutely lethal right-hand shot and crafty veteran hockey knowledge. Last but not least, even though he is only been with the team one season, every one of the players loves him. They are diligently trying to convince him to come back. I don't think anyone hates this guy. Well actually I take that back.. Senators fans hate them because they are Senators fans.
Weaknesses: It's obvious, folks. The looming concern is that we just aren't sure how durable he is going to be, especially with a concerning nerve issue. Along with health issues, I absolutely hate having him on the point for the power-play. He doesn't have the touch that he used to with Ottawa. Put him in the slot and let him shoot the puck.
Expectations: Alfie was our leading scorer last year. Take that for what you will.. If he comes back I desperately hope that he is not the leading scorer again. I would love to see him on a "Two Kids and a Goat" revamp with Tomas Tatar and Riley Sheahan. But like I said, I don't think he'll be back and if he does, I would hope that he comes along later in the season.
#93 / Left Wing / Detroit Red Wings
Dec 23, 1979
We know the story here. It's The Mule. He's streaky, frustrating player who sometimes seems like he just doesn't care. However, he has those moments of glorious masterful playmaking abilities. With a cap hit south of $4 million, I think I can deal with his streakiness. Mule has had a spectacular training camp, and has shown that he is in probably some of the best shape of his career. He's fit, he's lean, and most of all.. He's having fun out there during practice.
Strengths: I still think Johan Franzen has some of the most underrated accuracy in the NHL. He can lace the puck top-shelf like it's nothing. You can also consider his versatility a strength.. Franzen can be put at center, wing, net-front, or whatever. He's definitely one of those "Swiss Army Knife" type players. Swedish Army Knife? Whatever. Also, who can't love the guy after his incredible troll-job of Chris Neil and the Ottawa Senators?
Weaknesses: He has 'em. Streakiness, sometimes what seems to be a bad attitude, what have you. It's frustrating to the fans because we know what he is capable of. We've seen him dominate this game. Another thing that worries me is the concussion thing. He dealt with it last season, and well.. You know. Those are bad.
Expectations: I think we can chalk him up for at least 50 points this season, if he can stay healthy. I think 50 points for a cap-friendly 2nd line winger (who can play first line duties if needed) is a pretty good deal. That being said, I fully anticipate having many "WHAT THE FFFFFF" moments with him. Oh well.. This is sports. That's just what we do.
Gustav Nyquist is good. After putting around 90,000 miles on his vehicle driving back and forth from Grand Rapids to Detroit for a handful of years, Gustav Nyquist is here to stay. Last year he was snubbed (again) for Dan Cleary, but roared into the NHL and turned heads, becoming one of the NHL's top goal-scorers in the second half of the 2013-2014 regular season. This is a big season for him, and his future with Detroit. He's a pending RFA, and he's going to have to put-up similar numbers to what he did last season to earn the big money.
Strengths: Gustav Nyquist pairs his elite-skating with his ability to put the puck in the back of the net. I think Gus is an extremely underrated skater, we saw displays of his skill multiple times last season. Whether it was skating around Zdeno Chara, or skating with a player holding onto his back in Tampa, Gustav Nyquist's ability to be a strong skating goal-scorer makes him a serious threat, no matter where he plays, or who he's playing with.
Weaknesses: A lot of people will disagree with me, but I think a major weakness for him is inexperience. This will be his first full NHL season, so I think there's still a lot to be learned for him. I think there's worse things to be considered a weakness, however I think this season is going to be a big test for Nyquist especially with a contract to be negotiated.
Expectations: Regression. Nyquist shot a ridiculously high shooting percentage. His PDO shows that regression is imminent, but I guess crazier things have happened. I expect anywhere from 20-30 goals for the entire season, which would be fantastic. I wouldn't mind seeing him on the third line with Riley Sheahan and Tomas Tatar, but he performed extremely well with Johan Franzen and Henrik Zetterberg last season. He's one of those players you can stick anywhere. Just not the fourth line, please.
Tomas Tatar signed himself a nice three-year $8.25 million deal over this summer, as he was a restricted free agent. The 23 year old winger had an impressive 2013-2014 season notching 19 goals and 20 assists in 73 games, while being Detroit's most electrifying possession hog. I love this kid, and he might be one of the best players on the entire team in all honesty. 2013-2014 was his first full season as a pro, and he still didn't see all 82 games due to some controversial healthy scratching by coaching. Tomas quickly showed the hockey world just what he was capable of..
Strengths: He has an entire arsenal of strengths.. Speed, agility, hockey knowledge, and creativity all play a part in Tomas Tatar's game. Even though watching him jump through two Dallas defenders is incredible, I think one of his biggest strengths is how passionate he is. Every goal is special to Tomas, and you can tell that he loves playing for this team. Mix that passion in with his abilities, and you have a downright lethal hockey player.
Weaknesses: Like any player, he has his weaknesses and I think they can be pretty apparent at times. Tomas sometimes fumbles the puck around in his own zone, and can give it away which turns into significant scoring chances for the opposition. Thankfully, this is something that he will get better with as time goes on, and he gets more experience under his belt.
Expectations: I expect 50 points from Tomas this season. Somewhere around 20-25 goals. He'll play a huge role like he did last season, and I hope that Mike Babcock decides to roll him out on the third line with Riley Sheahan to take advantage of some good match-ups as far as competition goes.