5 Detroit Red Wings Players Who Must Step Up During 2013-14 Season

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5 Detroit Red Wings Players Who Must Step Up During 2013-14 Season

5 Detroit Red Wings Players Who Must Step Up During 2013-14 Season
Rick Osentoski - USA TODAY Sports

The 2013-14 season is less than a week away, and the Detroit Red Wings have made the move to the Eastern Conference. Players like Damien Brunner, Ian White, Carlo Colaiacovo and Valtteri Filppula are gone, but the additions of Daniel Alfredsson and Stephen Weiss will help make up for those losses. Last season the Red Wings started with lower expectations than usual but got hot at the right time and were able to just barely capture a playoff spot. They will face high expectations once again this season, with most “experts” picking them to finish second or third in the Atlantic Division.

Detroit struggled to field a healthy roster last season, but many of those issues have been resolved by offseason rest and a full training camp. A young defense struggled at times, but showed improvement over the course of the shortened season. They will be tested early and often by some of the top offenses in the league, and their continued development is key to the team’s success.

Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg are still among the best forwards in the league, but they will need help from their teammates to extend a record for consecutive playoff appearances to 23. Here’s a look at five players who need to step up this season to help the Red Wings make a smooth transition to their new conference.

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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Daniel Alfredsson

Daniel Alfredsson
Rick Osenstoski - USA TODAY Sports

Daniel Alfredsson has a lot to prove this season, after signing with the Red Wings and saying he felt he had a better chance of winning a Stanley Cup with them than with the Ottawa Senators. He’ll have a chance to step up in Detroit on a second line with Stephen Weiss and Johan Franzen, and anything short of a 50-point season will likely be considered a disappointment.

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Brendan Smith

Brendan Smith
Charles LeClaire - USA TODAY Sports

After a rough rookie season, Brendan Smith has also struggled during the 2013-14 preseason. The former first round pick needs to play more responsibly in his own end, and realize he can’t carry the puck all the time. It would also be nice to finally see him produce offensively the way he did in the NCAA and AHL.

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Gustav Nyquist

Gustav Nyquist
Rob Grabowski - USA TODAY Sports

Gustav Nyquist has waited three years for his chance to be a full-time member of the Red Wings, and now he needs to show what he can do with that opportunity. He scored 45 goals in the AHL over the past two seasons, but has managed only four goals and 13 points in 40 career games with the Wings.

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Johan Franzen

Johan Franzen
Rick Osentoski - USA TODAY Sports

The additions of Alfredsson and Stephen Weiss should finally give Johan Franzen the help he needs to succeed consistently. He can be one of the best weapons on the team when he’s hot, but also goes cold frequently. Case in point: after a six-game point streak in January and February last season, Franzen managed only one assist in the next eight games.

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Todd Bertuzzi

Todd Bertuzzi
Rob Grabowski - USA TODAY Sports

Injuries limited Todd Bertuzzi to only seven games last season, but he is reported to be back at full strength. The gritty veteran is an important part of the Wings’ lineup, and needs to show he can stay healthy and still contribute 30-40 points in what could be his final season.

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