With the 2017-18 season quickly approaching, what is a Red Wing fan to think about this up coming season? Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, or living in the back woods somewhere, you know that every major media outlet has already written off our Red Wings. So what is there to be optimistic about since we are already heading to the draft lottery again June 2018?
Henrik Zetterberg was off the charts last year. I don’t think you could have expected more than the captain delivered. To expect that again is unlikely, but even if we get a shadow of that production for Z, we can have some hope that it translates into wins again.
Tomas Tatar will be happy with his new $5.3 million contract. We should expect at least 25-30 goals again. Lets hope that he is finding the back of the net a lot with an improved power play. No team can repeat those man advantage numbers with the talent in the Wings locker room.
Riley Sheahan, Dylan Larkin, and Anthony Mantha, are all entering the final year of their contracts. What better way to give yourself a bargaining chip with the GM than to have a great season? Sheahan isn’t going to win a Hart Trophy anytime soon, but two goals is just about the worst puck luck any NHL’er has had in quite awhile. Larkin should take a step closer to being a really good NHL’er and Mantha will join him.
Mike Green will be playing to get moved out of town at the deadline and a new contract so to is safe to say we should see more (maybe not a lot more) from Green on his way to a Cup contender.
The last player I expect a lot from this season is Petr Mrazek. Entering the last year of his contract, after being left unprotected, and probably getting the message that he isn’t the number one goaltender on the Wings, I would expect Mrazek to come to camp with a chip on his shoulders. I fully expect Mrazek to steal his spot back at the top of the depth chart in net. We all know that Jimmy Howard isn’t going to be healthy for the entire season.
If the coaching staff can get the dreadful power play working no worse than the league average, around 20%, that will help out in the standings. The 15.1% power play will get most coaches fired when you are hopeful of a playoff return. So Jeff Blashill and his staff will have to figure out how to improve the man advantage quicky.
Finally, I also think it’s important to note that Ken Holland is entering the final year of his deal. If there was a time for Holland to make a bold move, it would be now. He knows that the blue line needs a massive shake up and he may not have another year to get this team back to the playoffs. Kris Draper is waiting behind Holland, and lets not forget that Buffalo was knocking on the door to give Drapes an interview for their GM position.