Detroit Red Wings: Who’s Hot and Who’s Not Heading Into Training Camp
Detroit Red Wings: Who's Hot and Who's Not Heading Into Training Camp
The Detroit Red Wings exceeded expectations in the lockout-shortened 2013 season, and extended their streak of consecutive playoff appearances to 22 seasons. They will move to the Eastern Conference for the 2013-14 season, and have already been projected to finish as high as fourth in that conference. Players who played well in 2013 will look to build upon that success in the new season, while those who battled injuries or had disappointing seasons will look to bounce back.
The Wings have added veteran forwards Daniel Alfredsson and Stephen Weiss, while Damien Brunner, Dan Cleary and Valtteri Filppula will not be back. Joakim Andersson, Tomas Tatar and Gustav Nyquist will look to have bigger roles this season and the return to health of Todd Bertuzzi, Mikael Samuelsson, Jonas Gustavsson and Darren Helm will be a big boost for the team.
A handful of Red Wings enter camp on a high note, having recently taken part in their respective home countries' Olympic orientation camps. Many of Detroit's young prospects that will be on hand will still be buzzing with excitement after capturing an AHL Calder Cup championship with the Grand Rapids Griffins in June. Many of those players made big contributions for the Wings last season, and were able to benefit from playing during the lockout. Here is a look at five players who are hot heading into training camp and five players who are not.
Who's Hot: Tomas Tatar
This should finally be the year Tatar is given a chance at a full-time roster spot, and he couldn't be any hotter at the moment. He had four goals and seven points in 18 games with the Wings last season, and was second on the Grand Rapids Griffins (AHL) with 23 goals and 49 points. He was a huge factor in the Griffins' Calder Cup championship, and was the AHL playoff MVP with 16 goals and 21 points in 24 postseason games.
Who's Not: Jordin Tootoo
After playing in 42 of 48 regular season games, Tootoo hit the ice only once during the playoffs. He contributed very little offensively last season and while he led the team in fighting majors, many of those tilts were of the "staged" variety and also did little to help the team. His name has frequently come up in trade rumors this summer.
Who's Hot: Jimmy Howard
Goaltender Jimmy Howard will head to camp full of confidence, after nearly backstopping the team to an upset win against the Blackhawks in last season's playoffs. He has finally silenced his critics and shown he can be a franchise goaltender, and has a good chance of being one of the three goaltenders who will represent Team USA at the 2014 Winter Olympics. Howard won 21 games last season while posting a 2.13 goals-against average, and was called on in 42 of the Wings' 48 games.
Who's Not: Brendan Smith
Brendan Smith's rookie season with the Red Wings is one he will want to forget quickly. The former first round pick, touted as an offensive defenseman, managed only eight assists last season (he had six in 20 fewer games the season before) and was frequently caught out of position in his own end. A two-year contract extension this summer should have given him a confidence boost and he now needs to reward the team's faith in him.
Who's Hot: Dan DeKeyser
Defenseman Dan DeKeyser was impressive during his first 11 games in the NHL last season. He recovered quickly from a thumb injury and was able to join the AHL Grand Rapids Griffins for the final six games of their run to a Calder Cup championship. He won't put up a ton of points, but has already been praised for his skating ability. Oh, and he's in a contract year as well.
Who's Not: Mikael Samuelsson
Samuelsson appeared in only four regular season games, but showed signs of life in the postseason. His no-trade clause is a big reason he's still around, and the pressure is on for him to show he deserves the $3 million per season he signed on for in the summer of 2012.
Who's Hot: Justin Abdelkader
Abdelkader scored a career-high 10 goals while playing in all 48 games last season, and will come into camp full of confidence. He was also invited to orientation camp with Team USA and should be in a great position to thrive with the Red Wings' move to the Eastern Conference.
Who's Not: Cory Emmerton
Emmerton played in all 48 games for the Red Wings last season, scoring five goals and recording eight points. His youth and small cap hit make him one of the most likely players to be moved to clear a roster spot, so he needs to impress in a big way at training camp if he hopes to stick around.
Who's Hot: Jakub Kindl
The Wings made Kindl wait for full time duty on the blue line, but he made the most of his chance at a regular spot in the lineup during the 2013 season. Kindl scored a career-high four goals and tied his career high with 13 points, while also posting a plus-15 mark that was second best on the team. He was rewarded with a new four-year contract over the summer and now just needs to show that last season wasn't a fluke.
Who's Not: Johan Franzen
Franzen continues to be inconsistent, which continues to be frustrating. He still has seven years left on a contract with a cap hit of nearly $4 million per season, and his name continues to come up as a buyout candidate. This could be a make-or-break season for the veteran winger, who not only needs to score more but do so all season long instead of the usual outburst followed by a slump.