Red Wings' Youth Could Bring Big Success
The Detroit Red Wings re-signed 23 year-old winger Tomas Tatar to a three year deal worth $2.75 million per year after 19 goals and 39 points in his first full NHL season. Tatar is just one of the many young players on the Red Wings that performed well last season, and will be instrumental in his team’s success next season and beyond.
On a team with Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg it’s easy to look past some of the Wings’ youthful talent, but the two only played 45 games each last season due to injuries, putting young players like Tatar at the forefront offensively, and he did not disappoint.
Justin Abdelkader, Gustav Nyquist and Tomas Jurco were other players along with Tatar who were called on to step up in the absence of Datsyuk and Zetterberg, and did a nice job at very young ages. Abdelkader, the elder of the group at 27, scored ten goals and 28 points in his fifth full NHL season, providing a solid depth scorer for a team that needed all the scoring they could get in the absence of their two best scorers for nearly half the season. Nyquist really shined at the young age of 24, scoring 28 goals and 48 points in 57 games with the Red Wings. Even the 21 year-old Jurco helped in the scoring department with eight goals and 15 points.
Aside from Nyquist, these numbers don’t exactly jump off the stat sheet, but their ages certainly do. The fact that all these young players on the Wings were able to play well enough in the absence of Datsyuk and Zetterberg and take the second wild card spot in their new conference says a great deal about the team going forward. They are an extremely talented and deep group from top to bottom, and if Zetterberg and Datysuk are able to remain healthy this season they will be a force to be reckoned with. With players veterans like Datysuk, Zetterberg and Johan Franzen teaching the youngsters the ropes, Tatar, Abdelkader, Nyquist and Jurco can only get better, which is very scary to think about if you’re another NHL team in the Eastern Conference or Atlantic Division.
The Red Wings defense is also sprinkled with youthful talent that helped the team to eighth in the conference. With the exception of Niklas Kronwall (33) and Jonathan Ericsson (31), the rest of the Wing defense is extremely young and very talented. They resigned defenseman Kyle Quincey in the offseason for a hefty fee of $4.25 million a year for the next two years, but they feel the 28 year-old did very well for them last season and was worth bringing back. Jakub Kindl also did very well last season at the age of 27, and if they re-sign 24 year-old RFA Danny Dekeyser, who had 23 points last season, the Red Wing defense will also have an extremely bright, young future. Quincey, Kindl and Dekeyser were solid defensively and even helped on the offensive side of the puck as well, and with plenty of time and room to grow around Kronwall and Ericsson, their defensive core going forward is also extremely promising.
The Red Wings are a team with a recipe for success. With a solid goaltender in Jimmy Howard, if the Red Wings’ young players like Kindl, Tatar, Nyquist can play even better than they did last season and if their veterans like Datysuk and Zetterberg can stay healthy, they have a chance to be one of the best teams in the NHL.
The Red Wings have been one of the more queit teams this offseason. They haven’t made any major changes to their lineup, have re-signed young talent in Tatar and Quincey and have a little over $5 million in cap space left to play with. The Wings still have room to re-sign DeKeyser, and possibly veterans Mikael Samuelsson and Todd Bertuzzi if they wanted. Daniel Alfredsson being a question mark depending on whether or not he wants to retire handcuffs the Wings a bit, but as of now the team encompasses and extremely talented, young roster that has all the makings not only to be good this year, but for years to come.