Detroit Red Wings: 5 Players to Keep an Eye on During Training Camp

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Detroit Red Wings: 5 Players to Keep an Eye on During Training Camp

Detroit Red Wings: 5 Players to Keep an Eye on During Training Camp
Sergei Belski - USA TODAY Sports

Many experts gave the Detroit Red Wings little chance to reach the playoffs in the lockout-shortened 2013 season, but the team battled through injuries and defensive struggles to not only reach the postseason but push the eventual Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks to a seventh game in the second round. The offseason additions of Daniel Alfredsson and Stephen Weiss as well as the move to the Eastern Conference should see the team enter the 2013-14 season with higher expectations, and anything short of a playoff appearance will be a letdown.

Many individual players will have a chance to show they are ready to recover from a poor showing in 2013, while others may find themselves battling for a roster spot. The health of three forwards who missed significant time last season leaves a handful of questions, most of which are expected to be answered by the end of camp. The Red Wings will head to Traverse City, Mich. with two more forwards on their roster than they will be able to keep, which may lead to one of the most competitive camps in recent memory. Seeing how Alfredsson and Weiss fit in should also be interesting, and which lines they end up on could have a huge impact on the team’s success this season. Here’s a look at five players to keep an eye on when training camp opens.

Jonathan Katje is an NHL featured columnist for Rant Sports. You can follow him on Twitter or add him to your circles on Google Plus.

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Gustav Nyquist

Gustav Nyquist
Rick Osentoski - USA TODAY Sports

Gustav Nyquist will finally see full-time duty with the Red Wings this season. He helped lead the AHL Grand Rapids Griffins to a Calder Cup championship last season, leading the team in scoring with 23 goals and 60 points. He had three goals and six points in 22 games with the Wings last season, and needs to show he can score consistently if he hopes to be more than a third-line player.

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Stephen Weiss

Stephen Weiss
Robert Mayer - USA TODAY Sports

Stephen Weiss should help increase scoring from the second line this season, and is a great replacement for Valtteri Filppula. It will be interesting to see how quickly he is able to develop chemistry with linemate Johan Franzen, as well as who the other winger on that line will be.

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Mikael Samuelsson

Mikael Samuelsson
Rick Osentoski - USA TODAY Sports

Mikael Samuelsson missed all but four games of the 2013 regular season with an injury, but played well in five playoff games. He needs to show that he can have an impact for the team, as his $3 million salary and no-trade clause make it nearly impossible to move him. He's 36 years old but could still end up on one of the top two lines with an impressive training camp.

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Todd Bertuzzi

Todd Bertuzzi
Rick Osentoski - USA TODAY Sports

Todd Bertuzzi was limited to just seven games during the 2013 season, but all indications point to him returning at full strength for training camp. He was a valuable player for the Wings the prior three seasons, and if he's back in form it will be great news for the team.

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Darren Helm

Darren Helm
Rick Osentoski - USA TODAY Sports

Injuries have kept Darren Helm out of the Red Wings' lineup for much of the past two seasons, but the latest news seems to indicate that he will be on the ice and ready to go for training camp. Helm's return to "action" was the big news this summer when the team hosted a brief rookie development camp, and his return to the lineup would immediately strengthen the third line. The absence of the speedy forward, who is also great on special teams, was easy to notice last season.

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