NHL Detroit Red Wings

Detroit Red Wings: 10 Biggest Storylines Of 2013

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Detroit Red Wings: 10 Biggest Storylines of 2013

Detroit Red Wings: 10 Biggest Storylines of 2013
Marc DesRosiers - USA TODAY Sports

Thanks to a lockout, the 2012-13 season didn't start until January of 2013. The Red Wings began life without Nicklas Lidstrom by losing to the St. Louis Blues by a 6-0 score on opening night, and by the end of February their 10-8-3 record showed how up and down things had been and were going to be. Free agent acquisitions Mikael Samuelsson, Jordin Tootoo and Jonas Gustavsson failed to have the impact many had hoped they would, but Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk remained steady offensively to help keep their team in contention. It may have taken a late surge and four-game winning streak for the Red Wings to reach the playoffs, but after that they witnessed some of the best goaltending of Jimmy Howard's career as they reached the seventh game of the conference semifinals before being sent home.

Summer saw many exciting things happen in the Detroit organization, as their AHL affiliate put together an impressive playoff run, a new crop of prospects was drafted and high-impact free agents were brought in. So far, at least one of those free agents is having a big impact while one from the previous year has managed to stay healthy and be a big part of keeping the Red Wings in contention in the Atlantic Division. It looks like the 2013-14 season could be another full of ups and downs for the Red Wings, but as the year draws to a close there are many big moments to reflect back on. Here is a look at the 10 biggest storylines of 2013 for the Detroit Red Wings, as they look ahead to the Winter Classic on Jan. 1 and the start of 2014.

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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Steve Yzerman Will Participate In 2014 Winter Classic

Steve Yzerman
Tim Fuller - USA TODAY Sports

On December 10th, legendary Red Wings captain Steve Yzerman officially committed to take part in the Winter Classic Alumni Showdown. After months of speculation about whether or not his duties as general manager of the Tampa Bay Lightning and Team Canada would keep him from attending, he became the last big name to be added to the event. Yzerman's participation guarantees that all living alumni whose numbers have been retired will be on hand, as will nearly the entire roster from the 1997 and 1998 Stanley Cup championship teams.

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Plans Move Forward For New Arena In Downtown Detroit

Mike Ilitch
Rick Osentoski - USA TODAY Sports

Rumored to be in the works for several years, in the summer of 2013 Red Wings owner Mike Ilitch and his company announced plans for a new arena and entertainment district to be built. The project continues to clear hurdles and gain the necessary funding, despite being met with mixed reaction in Detroit. Plans call for the arena to be funded by more than $365 million of private investment and nearly $285 million of public investment, and would move the team closer to the homes of the Detroit Lions and Detroit Tigers. If all proceeds as planned, the Red Wings could be saying goodbye to Joe Louis Arena before the 2016-17 season gets underway.

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Red Wings Make The Move To Eastern Conference

Bertuzzi Phaneuf
John E. Sokolowski - USA TODAY Sports

Thanks to NHL realignment in the offseason, the Red Wings entered the 2013-14 season as members of the Eastern Conference. The days of multiple, lengthy West Coast road trips are gone, and rivalries with Original Six opponents like the Toronto Maple Leafs and Boston Bruins have been renewed in the newly-formed Atlantic Division.

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Danny DeKeyser Signs And Immediately Contributes

Danny DeKeyser
Rick Osentoski - USA TODAY Sports

In March, the Red Wings beat out at least four other teams in the fight to sign standout college defenseman Danny DeKeyser. The Michigan-born blueliner had gone undrafted, but he had shown steady improvement and an ability to use his great size (6-3, 190) while at Western Michigan University. DeKeyser earned early praise from head coach Mike Babcock an appeared in 11 regular season games and two playoff games before being sidelined by injury. He then joined the Grand Rapids Griffins for the Calder Cup Finals, playing in all six games in the series as the Griffins brought home their first Calder Cup. This season he has showcased more offensive upside (two goals, 10 points) while playing well enough in his own end to establish himself as a top-four defenseman his team can build around.

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Anthony Mantha Is Drafted 20th Overall

Anthony Mantha
Ed Mulholland - USA TODAY Sports

Looking to fill a future need for a big-bodied center with scoring ability, the Red Wings traded the 18th overall pick for the 20th and 58th picks, and they used their first pick to take QMJHL phenom Anthony Mantha. A 50-goal, 89-point season helped raise Mantha's stock in his draft year, and he's off to an even better start this season. Mantha has 35 goals and 73 points through 32 games with the Val d'Or Foreurs, starred in the Subway Super Series and is currently playing for Team Canada at the World Junior Championship. He'll have a chance to show his skill in the AHL next season, and may not be more than two or three years away from earning a roster spot in Detroit.

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Jonas Gustavsson's Great Start To 2013-14 Season

Jonas Gustavsson
John E. Sokolowski - USA TODAY Sports

Injuries limited goaltender Jonas Gustavsson to only seven appearances last season, but in the first half of the 2013-14 season he has proven to be the tandem partner to Jimmy Howard that the Red Wings were looking for. Howard has battled a rough start and injuries, but Gustavsson has stepped up, posting a 10-3-2 record with a 2.35 goals-against average.

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Dazzling Debuts From Tomas Jurco and Others

Tomas Jurco
Rick Osentoski - USA TODAY Sports

Seven prospects made their debuts for the Red Wings in 2013, including defensemen Danny DeKeyser, Brian Lashoff, Xavier Ouellet and Adam Almquist, goaltender Petr Mrazek and forwards Luke Glendening and Tomas Jurco. Mrazek got a win in his first start, while DeKeyser, Lashoff, Almquist and Jurco scored their first career goals. As injuries continue to be an issue, these players and others have continued to step up and hint at a bright future in Detroit.

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Daniel Alfredsson Comes To Detroit On One-Year Contract

Daniel Alfredsson
Marc DesRosiers - USA TODAY Sports

While the Red Wings were expected to make a splash in summer free agency, few could have predicted they would sign longtime Ottawa Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson to a one-year, $5.5 million deal in July. Sparked by a desire to win a Stanley Cup before retiring, Alfredsson came to Detroit to provide secondary scoring and power play strength. After a slow start, he has been one of the team's most consistent forwards, and has 28 points through 34 games.

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Grand Rapids Griffins Win 2013 Calder Cup Championship

Tomas Tatar MVP
Rick Osentoski - USA TODAY Sports

Eight current Red Wings were part of a Grand Rapids Griffins team that captured its first-ever AHL Calder Cup championship in 2013. Led by the stellar goaltending of rookie Petr Mrazek and the offensive talents of Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Tatar and Joakim Andersson, the Griffins defeated the Syracuse Crunch (Tampa Bay Lightning) in six games and showed just how bright the future is in Detroit. First-year head coach Jeff Blashill was an assistant under Mike Babcock during the 2011-12 season, and his name will pop up in coming years when vacancies open in the NHL. Tatar took home playoff MVP honors with 16 goals in 24 postseason games, and he has since solidified a spot with the Red Wings.

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Playoff Appearance Streak Reaches 22nd Season

Red Wings Playoffs
Kelvin Kuo - USA TODAY Sports

The Red Wings rode out a roller coaster of a regular season and were still able to extend their consecutive playoff appearance streak to 22 seasons, and did so in dramatic fashion. Things came right down to the wire as the regular season neared a close, but a string of four consecutive victories to finish off the season kept the streak alive. Once they got in, the goaltending of Jimmy Howard helped the Red Wings knocked off the second-seeded Anaheim Ducks in seven games, then pushed the eventual Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks to overtime of a seventh game in the conference semifinals.