In Red Wings Land
Hurdles? Yeah, it’s called the salary cap. Plus, I’m not sure I even want the 33-year-old Thomas Vanek to come back unless it’s another one year deal. I highly doubt Vanek will do that type of contract again, especially in Detroit. Last year was a prove me deal and you could argue that he proved his worth.
Vanek made quite an impact for the Wings last season, and his chemistry was palpable with almost everyone – at the start of the season, the team’s hottest line included Vanek, Helm and Gustav Nyquist. When Vanek suffered an injury, Nyquist and Helm got very quiet, production-wise.
Vanek’s best chemistry, though, was with Frans Nielsen and Athanasiou. What Vanek lacks in speed he ameliorates with through-the-roof hockey smarts. He set up Athanasiou for a goal with a nifty no-look pass in one game.
Picture these possible lines: Zetterberg with Anthony Mantha and Nyquist. Nielsen with Vanek and Athanasiou. Dylan Larkin with Justin Abdelkader and Tyler Bertuzzi. Riley Sheahan with Helm and Luke Glendening.
Tatar also could be a factor, though he's questionable to start the season after off-season shoulder surgery.
Vanek would definitely make the Red Wings roster more talented (especially if it bumped someone like Luke Witkowski to Grand Rapids), but this team is in salary cap hell already. Would it even be worth it?
Around the League
It’s no surprise that Henrik Zetterberg’s name is on this list.
Chance of making the one-franchise club: 90%. In today’s NHL, I’m not sure you ever go higher than 90 until the player is actually making their way to the podium to announce their retirement. But of everyone on our list, Zetterberg is the most likely to retire with his team.
I think 90% is fair. There’s always the chance something happens down the road, but at this point Hank seems like a lifer. He had a nice season last year and I’d happily take another point production like that this coming season. The deal and cap hit will probably look ugly in the final season or two, but Holland isn’t going to dump Zetterberg. The franchise values his veteran leadership in the room too much.