Join TSN in a 30 teams in 30 days tour of the NHL in preparation for the upcoming season. Teams will be unveiled in reverse order of the pre-season TSN.ca Power Rankings, and the Detroit Red Wings are up next. Get the lowdown on their off-season and the issues they face this season. Use the Your Call feature to give us your take on the Kings!
Detroit Red Wings
2009-10: 44-24-14 (5th in West, Eliminated in Conference SF by Sharks)
General Manager: Ken Holland (13th season)
Head Coach: Mike Babcock (5th season)
What they did in the off-season:
The more things change, the more they stay the same in the Motor City as the Red Wings will enter camp with a very similar team to the one that was bounced out of the playoffs by the Sharks in the second round last season.
Detroit had to be happy to hear that All-World defenceman Nicklas Lidstrom would return for another kick at the can in Motown. Also returning were forwards Todd Bertuzzi and Tomas Holmstrom who both agreed to two-year pacts. Jiri Hudler decided the grass was not necessarily greener on the other side of the pond as he chose to return to Detroit after a one-season sojourn in the KHL. Apparently one Filppula was not enough for the Winged Wheel as Valtteri's younger brother Ilari was added to the forward mix after he helped lead TPS Turku to the Finnish Elite League title. In addition Patrick Eaves, Drew Miller, Justin Abdelkader, Darren Helm and Kirk Maltby were re-signed, as Brad May, Andreas Lilja and Brett Lebda were all allowed to walk. Detroit then added more veteran talent through free agency as Mike Modano and Ruslan Salei joined on one-year contracts. And finally after a remarkable on-ice career that concluded with a stint in Atlanta, Chris Chelios finally hung up the blades to join the Wings in a front office capacity.
Biggest issue facing the team:
Despite all the talent at their disposal, this is an old team that got older in the off-season. Their two biggest free agent acquisitions are much closer to collecting a pension then they are to reaching their prime. Although you cannot argue with the amount of talent at their disposal, with the exception of Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg, the Wings core are all in the homestretch of their careers. Valtteri Filppula was the only Red Wing under 29 last season that scored more than 30 points. The return of Jiri Hudler from Russia should help inject some fresh legs and youthful enthusiasm to this group of grey beards; however that may not be enough. This is a group that appeared tired in the post-season and were out-skated by the much younger Sharks group. At some point the Wings will have to introduce a newer generation to take over from the current group or the situation could quickly become bleak in Motown. They have enough skill to succeed this season, but their window to capture another championship is rapidly closing.
Player to watch:
Goaltender Jimmy Howard was finally given the opportunity that he had been waiting for last season following four years in the AHL. When Chris Osgood struggled in the early going, Howard snatched away the number one goaltender role and never relinquished it. His play was good enough to earn him a Calder Trophy nomination and even some talk of a possible Vezina nomination. One of the better bargains in the league, the 26-year old Howard is slated to earn just $800,000 this season in the final year of his contract. If he wants to continue his career in Detroit, he must prove to management that his play last season is indicative of what the Wings can expect of him in the future. If he is able to repeat that, then he will be a very rich man once free agency season opens July 1st of 2011.