By Brad Constant; Jan. 30, 2014
After sometime off and even a little time off the grid, the Hockey Ref is back just in time to get geared up for the rest of the season. So without further ado, let’s get right to it….
The Detroit Red Wings’ injury-prone season continues as the Olympic break approaches. In fact, it’s safe to say that the Red Wings’ season has been severely hampered by injuries.
Currently Detroit is without powerhouse veterans Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg. Plus Johan Franzen has just been placed back on the injured reserve list due to more concussion symptoms while Stephen Weiss is recovering from a sports hernia surgery. At one point the Red Wings’ injury list also included Darren Helm, Joakim Andersson, Daniel Alfredsson, Jimmy Howard and Jonathan Ericcson.
But there has been a bright spot to come out of Detroit’s injury woes thanks to the team’s young players who have revealed a promising future for the organization.
Players like Tomas Tatar and Gustav Nyquist have stepped up their games. Truth be told, they look like they could be the most suitable replacements for Datsyuk and Zetterberg when the Euro Twins retire. Granted, there is no way to completely fill the skates of Datsyuk and Zetterberg. But Tatar and Nyquist have shown that they have a knack for scoring and making plays game in and game out. Here some proof with sick highlight numbers one and two belonging to Tatar, and number three belonging to Nyquist.
Other young players like the aforementioned Andersson, Riley Sheahan and Tomas Jurco are all big bodies coming in at over six-feet-tall. Andersson looks like the better defensive forward while Sheahan and Jurco seem more offensively inclined. Sheahan has a cannon of a wrist shot and Jurco has hands that could put him on highlight reel after highlight reel.
On the back end there are players like Brendan Smith, Brian Lashoff and Danny Dekeyser. Smith still has a problem with turnovers, but there is promise in his game. Lashoff looks like he’ll make a solid number five or six defenseman. But Dekeyser looks the most promising off all. The former Western Michigan University Bronco has all the makings of a top defenseman in the National Hockey League; size, vision and skill. We can’t wait to see how he turns out in a couple of seasons as he looks the most likely to fill the void left by Nicklas Lidstrom – well, he looks like he can fill a good portion of the void at least.
Lastly, Petr Mrazek has been called upon over the last couple of seasons to step in and man the net. During those appearances he has shown tons of growth, and even recorded his first NHL shutout early this season. The Red Wings could be in a very good position with goaltenders if he continues to grow and mature.
What does all this mean? Simple, the Red Wings’ future looks good, and young. It’s been awhile since Detroit has not been comprised of a majority of players over 30-years-old, and with the salary cap the team cannot splash into free agency to add star power like it has in the past. So the Red Wings have been forced to groom their young talents faster than usual. But it seems to be paying off, and we could see the Red Wings return to the position of league powerhouse again if the youth movement continues on its upward trajectory.