When Nicklas Lidstrom retired last summer, he left the Detroit Red Wings without a true heir apparent on the blue line.
Many figured that Niklas Kronwall would take over as the no. 1 guy on defense in Lidstrom’s absence, but it remained to be seen how effective he would be logging those types of minutes. It’s probably safe to say that Kronwall as the no. 1 guy on the blue line is working out just fine.
Kronwall is having a career year with the Red Wings. Many would even consider it a year worthy of some consideration for the Norris Trophy.
Kronwall has always been a physical guy. He hasn’t laid the hits down as often this season, but when he does, it’s usually an effective smash. Kronwall has always been a guy good for some timely, momentum-changing hits in his own zone. This year, his game has improved more in the offensive end.
He’s returned to a form more similar to his 2009-2010 campaign, when he put up 51 points. He has 19 points in 27 games, which is the best scoring rate of his career. That’s where the biggest change has been. He’s been more effective offensively. However, he has lost a bit defensively, though not enough to cause any sort of concern.
When you consider the improvements to his offensive game, and the fact that he’s playing about 25 minutes a game, you can see how important Kronwall is to this team. They lost a lot on the blue line this summer, including both Lidstrom and Brad Stuart. He may not garner some Norris attention towards the end of the season, but he’s thriving as an all-around defenseman this season.