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NHL.com’s ‘31 in 31’ series examines the Red Wings’ 2017-18 season outlook

NHL.com's "31 in 31" team preview series focuses on the Red Wings today, with five articles serving as 2017-18 season preview snapshots.

1. NHL.com's Dave Hogg ponders the Red Wings' current status as facing a cap conundrum...

The Red Wings may start a rebuilding process that could take a few seasons of pain for some long-term gain, or they may try to assemble a more veteran group that could start a new postseason streak immediately.

Each path is difficult, and made tougher by the limits of the NHL salary cap. Detroit is nearly $4 million over the $75 million cap for this season, according to CapFriendly.com; teams are allowed to exceed the cap by 10 percent during the offseason.

Forwards Henrik Zetterberg, who turns 37 on Oct. 9 ($6.083 million), Frans Nielsen, 33 ($5.25 million), Justin Abdelkader, 30 ($4.25 million), and defensemen Niklas Kronwall, 36 ($4.75 million), and Jonathan Ericsson, 33 ($4.25 million) are five of Detroit's nine top-paid players, and all are signed through at least the 2019-20 season. The Red Wings also have forward Johan Franzen, who last played Oct. 10, 2015, because of concussion-related issues, counting $3.9 million against the salary cap for three more seasons.

Detroit's only significant free agent acquisition was defenseman Trevor Daley, who signed a three-year contract reportedly worth $9.5 million (average annual value of $3.167 million) on July 1. Daley, who turns 34 on Oct. 9, joins a top-six group that is expected to include four players 31 or older, along with Kronwall, Ericsson and Mike Green, 31.

There isn't much room for newcomers among the forwards. Martin Frk, who turns 24 on Oct. 5, Tyler Bertuzzi, 22, and Evgeny Svechnikov, 20, are expected to compete for one spot, but the other 11 forward positions are occupied by veterans under contract.

Continued...

2. Hogg ponders "Three Questions Facing the Red Wings"...

Who will score?

The Red Wings were 26th in the NHL in goals per game (2.41) and 27th on the power play (15.1 percent) last season. Forward Tomas Tatar was the only player to score at least 20 goals (25). Forward Thomas Vanek was tied with Tatar and forwards Dylan Larkin and Justin Abdelkader for the Detroit lead in power-play goals (five) despite missing time because of injuries and being traded to the Florida Panthers on March 1.

The biggest question is Larkin, who had 32 points (17 goals, 15 assists) and a minus-28 rating in 80 games, a decline from his rookie season in 2015-16 when he had 45 points (23 goals, 22 assists) and was plus-11. Forward Andreas Athanasiou, whose 18 goals were second on the Red Wings, remains a restricted free agent.

Continued...

3. NHL.com's Rob Vollman examines three key statistics which the Wings must resolve to succeed this upcoming season...

Shot-based struggles

The Detroit Red Wings missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season for the first time since 1989-90, and the steady decline of their shot-based metrics may have been partly responsible.

Once the epitome of possession-driving hockey, the Red Wings were outshot last season for the first time since 1990-91. They averaged 28.5 shots per game, their fewest since 1989-90, and allowed 30.6, their second-worst in that time frame.

In 2014-15, Detroit outshot its opponents 3,354-2,917 at 5-on-5, for an SAT of plus-437 that ranked third in the NHL. Last season, the Red Wings were 24th after being outshot 3,560-3,316 (minus-244). Reversing this trend should be among their top priorities.

Continued...

4. NHL.com's Pete Jensen looks at the Wings from a fantasy hockey perspective...

FORWARDS

Henrik Zetterberg, C/LW -- The veteran forward was a pleasant surprise last season, jumping from a low average draft position (145.9) to 55th in Yahoo. He was an elite distributor (51 assists, 7th in NHL; 35 primary assists, 4th), and scored 68 points even with a low shooting percentage (8.7) and the lowest power-play point output (13 PPP) in a full season since his rookie year (10 in 2002-03). Zetterberg, 36, remains a fringe top 100 asset but would become an even greater bargain if he slips again in drafts.

Anthony Mantha, LW/RW -- He's a clear breakout candidate ahead of his second full NHL season and deserves more first-unit power-play usage for the Detroit Red Wings after stellar even-strength production as a rookie. Mantha, who turns 23 on Sept. 16, scored 36 points (17 goals, 19 assists) in 60 games with 33 at even strength (sixth among rookies). Mantha should play alongside Zetterberg in all situations and is worth reaching for any time after the first 12 rounds of a 12-team draft.

Continued...

5. And Hogg discusses the Wings' "High Hopes" for Michael Rasmussen:

Rasmussen only played one game [at the World Junior Summer Showcase] before Canada condensed its roster into one team, but he got to show some versatility to his future bosses. Instead of his normal position in the middle, he played left wing.

"I've been playing wing my whole life and I've played there a little for Tri-City," he said. "If the Red Wings want me to be a center I'm happy to do that, but if they need me to play somewhere else, that's fine."

Rasmussen might have been away from his natural position, but he impressed the most important person in the building.

"I thought he did a good job," Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. "I've never seen him play before but I thought he skated well for a real big guy, and I think that will continue to improve. It was a good showing."

Hogg continues, and NHL.com's Dan Rosen and Matt Waymore preview the Wings' 17-18 season in video form:

Also of Red Wings-related note:

1. Art Regner conducted a 37-minute interview with Matthew Dandenault, who's been attending the Wings' fantasy hockey camp...

2. On Twitter:

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Comments

damndog's avatar

It’s amazing Abby makes as much as franzen and I don’t care how long ago the franzen deal was done.
Smfh

Posted by damndog from The Eastside of Detroit on 08/11/17 at 06:42 AM ET

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NHL.com needs to do a better job on their articles. I believe it has already been established that the team wants DeKeyser to play w/Daley, yet they say in the article that he will be paired w/Green. The team has also already said that Coreau will be sent down to GR, but they say he will be competing for the backup job (I guess in theory, if Mrazek is absolutely terrible, this could happen, but even in the worst season of his professional career last year, Mrazek was still better than Coreau). It just seems like these articles should be better coming from the official site of the league.

Posted by Ilovekermit on 08/11/17 at 06:55 AM ET

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I think thr assumption is that KH is going to have to trsde Mrazek to five himself cap room, as hes stated hed like to make a move but we dont really have anything anyone else wants.. 

I did figure out why we cant score though.  KH doesnt like goal scorers.  Probavly because he used to play goal.  If you consistantly score, hes going to draf you over the coals.  If he likes you, hell sign you a year early.

Didnt realize AA was 2nd in goals last year.  Good luck signing him for under a mil.

Posted by ThatGuy on 08/11/17 at 08:26 AM ET

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I believe it has already been established that the team wants DeKeyser to play w/Daley, yet they say in the article that he will be paired w/Green.

To be fair, whatever Blashill says his lines/pairings will be, they’re going to be shuffled eight minutes into the first game anyways.

I did figure out why we cant score though.  KH doesnt like goal scorers.

No offense, but you just figured that out?

Posted by CharDeeMacDennis on 08/11/17 at 08:40 AM ET

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Sproul will be waived.
Someone like Kronwall, Ericsson, Howard, Abby will go on IR after pulling a groin during the pre-season.
Witkowski can swing between forward and defense so having a 22-man roster rather than 23 will be viewed as sufficient.
So Kenny can kick the cap problem down the road for a little while longer.
Pathetic actually.

Posted by fatsavage on 08/11/17 at 09:55 AM ET

WingedRider's avatar

There isn’t much room for newcomers among the forwards. Martin Frk, who turns 24 on Oct. 5, Tyler Bertuzzi, 22, and Evgeny Svechnikov, 20, are expected to compete for one spot, but the other 11 forward positions are occupied by veterans under contract.

Realistic and close to what will happen.  Enjoy winning in GR

Posted by WingedRider from Saskatoon, SK on 08/11/17 at 12:27 PM ET

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About The Malik Report

The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.

 

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