10 Detroit Red Wings Who Need To Step Up In 2013
10 Detroit Red Wings Who Need To Step Up in 2013
A shortened NHL season is really going to test the Detroit Red Wings. Can some of their aging players stay healthy through a tightly compacted schedule? How will Henrik Zetterberg perform after being named team captain? Will Jimmy Howard have another strong year before he reaches free agency? All of these questions should be answered during the coming season, and fans should have a pretty good idea early on if the streak of consecutive playoff appearances will remain intact.
It is fair to say certain members of the team underperformed last season. The season-ending first-round playoff loss to the Nashville Predators featured a lack of offense, lackluster defense, and questionable goaltending. If the Wings want to once again compete for the Stanley Cup, they need not just their star players but their role players as well to elevate their game. For all of the attention that will be focused on Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk and Johan Franzen, the team also needs a big year from Drew Miller, Cory Emmerton, Jan Mursak and others. New additions Carlo Colaiacovo, Jordin Tootoo and Mikael Samuelsson need to show they fit well in Detroit and can each contribute on both ends of the ice. The addition of goaltender Jonas Gustavsson to back up Howard should help both netminders thrive and get proper rest.
With plans for a new arena moving forward at a pretty good pace, the Wings need to give fans the best experience possible in the remaining time at Joe Louis Arena. Here is a look at 10 Red Wings who need to step their game up in 2013.
With all reports indicating he will be named team captain, Henrik Zetterberg now faces leadership responsibilities in addition to the scoring the team looks to him to provide. After a slightly down 69 point season in 2011-12, the Wings will need him at the top of his game. He had 16 goals and 32 points in 23 games for EV Zug in Switzerland during the lockout and will look for that success to continue.
The Red Wings’ success this season will likely be determined by how well Jimmy Howard plays. Slated to be a free agent at the end of the season, he needs to have a big year between the pipes and show he can stay healthy. The addition of Jonas Gustavsson should give him the needed rest, but Howard needs to be able to keep the team in close games.
Having spent time with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Jonas Gustavsson is no stranger to playing in a hockey-crazed town. He’ll need to show Red Wings fans early on that he is capable of winning a game or two each week while relieving Jimmy Howard. With a better team in front of him than he ever had in Toronto, it will be interesting to see how Gustavsson reacts.
The Wings brought Kyle Quincey back hoping he would bolster their blue line. He performed well in 18 games for Detroit last season and will be looked to this season to help provide some of the offense the team loses following the retirement of Nicklas Lidstrom and the departure of Brad Stuart.
With a lot of talented prospects in the AHL, Cory Emmerton’s roster spot could be in jeopardy early on if he fails to perform. In his first full season of NHL duty, he only scored six goals and 10 points. A broken finger kept him from playing overseas for much of the lockout but he should be ready to go for the season opener.
Drew Miller had a great partial season in Scotland during the lockout, scoring 15 goals and 30 points in just 23 games. Coming off his best NHL season yet, this could be his chance to break out - especially with Patrick Eaves sidelined.
An injury cut short what should have been Jan Mursak’s first full season in Detroit. However, in the 25 games he did play, he managed just one goal and three points. He’s in a similar situation to Cory Emmerton, with a lot of young talent ready to steal his spot if he can’t perform better. The Wings love his speed, and he was playing great in Austria during the lockout (48 points in 30 games for Ljubljana Olimpija HK), he just needs to show he can do that in the NHL as well.
The Red Wings went out and added some toughness to their roster when they signed Jordin Tootoo this offseason. He needs to have an immediate impact in Detroit, playing the role of agitator while chipping in the occasional goal. He had one of his best season’s yet for the Nashville Predators in 2011-12, and will be given every chance to quickly become a fan favorite for the Wings.
Another Wing who will be a free agent at the end of the season, Valtteri Filppula will already face the challenge of coming off an injury when he finally sees the ice this season. After his best season yet with the Wings in 2011-12 (23 goals, 66 points), he was off to a great start in Finland (15 points in 16 games) before suffering a knee injury. He’ll need to bounce back quickly and have another great year if he hopes to stay in Detroit moving forward.
Johan Franzen is signed to the second longest and fourth most expensive contract for the Wings right now. His 29 goals and 56 points last season might have been good enough on another team, but they weren’t in Detroit where he’s making $3.95 million per season. His disappearing act in the playoffs (where he normally shines) did little to endear him to fans either, and he needs to have a strong season to avoid being a candidate for an amnesty buyout.