2014 Detroit Red Wings Predictions and NHL Futures Odds
by Trevor Whenham - 9/30/2014
The Detroit Red Wings should be very thankful that the Atlanta Thrashers moved to Winnipeg. That set up a geographic imbalance in the league, and the solution was to move Winnipeg to the Western Conference last year and have Detroit and Columbus move to the East. That move is the only reason that the Wings were able to keep their 22-year playoff streak intact last year.
They just barely earned the final wild card spot thanks to a strong finish. They were hit hard by a bad combination of injuries and the realities of aging, and there is just no way that they would have been competitive in the West. Heck, they were barely competitive in the East - Boston barely had to break a sweat to dispatch them in the first round of the playoffs.
Coming off a season like that would have caused a lot of teams to panic. Ken Holland, who has been the GM of the team since 1997 and has three Stanley Cups to show for it, has never lacked for patience, though. He comes into this season with a team that is nearly a carbon copy of the one he had last year. They are older, but hopefully they are also going to be much healthier. That shouldn't be tough - no team was hit any harder by key injuries to their core than this one. It's a bold move by Holland, and if it doesn't pay off then things could really get interesting. With Holland and head coach Mike Babcock in charge, though, and with the East not the stronger conference again this year, it's not too hard to imagine the best-run franchise in sports finding a way to succeed again.
The team will improve dramatically just by staying healthy. Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk - the two biggest keys on offense - both missed 37 games. Johan Franzen missed 40. Stephen Weiss, a new addition, only played 26. Daniel Alfredsson missed 14 games. That's a whole lot of offense that was unavailable for long stretches. It's not a wonder the team limped into the postseason.
Detroit Red Wings Offseason Moves
Like I stated, the team is basically sticking with what they had. The only real changes are subtractions. Mikael Samuelsson had not been nearly as good the last two years as he was in his first stint with the Red Wings, so they won't be sad that the 37 year old has returned to Sweden to play. He had just three points in 26 games last year. David Legwand was a trade deadline acquisition from Nashville last year, but the center's tenure was brief in Detroit - he left as a free agent to replace Jason Spezza in Ottawa. The final significant move is actually an uncertain one. Daniel Alfredsson, the 41-year-old, long-time captain of the Senators who joined the Red Wings last season, struggled with a bad back last year. He's a free agent now, but he will either rejoin the team or retire depending upon how his back feels in the coming weeks. Whether he returns or not, the departure of some older players opens up playing time and responsibilities for younger guys ready to take the next step forward like Tomas Tatar and Gustav Nyquist and for some patiently developed prospects to move up.
This year's first-round pick in the NHL Draft, American center Dylan Larkin, will be joining the Michigan Wolverines this year and was never expected to seriously contend for a roster spot. Last year's first-rounder, Canadian Anthony Mantha, looked to have the shot to break through and get some playing time, but a broken leg suffered in training camp has him out for a couple of months.
Detroit Red Wings NHL Outlook
I wish they had done more. They have a decent core, but they weren't really good enough - even at full strength - to stay as stable as they have. Still, with Datsyuk, Franzen and Zetterberg healthy for full seasons, Weiss able to contribute, and guys like Nyquist and Tatar taking a step forward, the team certainly has enough talent to be a playoff team - even one that wins a series or two in the East. The biggest liability, though, remains in net. There are two handfuls of teams with a better one-two punch than Jimmy Howard and Jonas Gustavsson.
Detroit Red Wings Schedule
The returning players will get tested early and often because there isn't a team that plays a harder October schedule than this one. They open with three games at home - two against Boston sandwiched around Anaheim. Then they play a home-and-home with their Original Six rivals from Toronto before finishing the month out with Montreal, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Washington and defending champs L.A.. There isn't a soft spot the whole month.
Detroit Red Wings NHL Futures Odds (from Bovada)
The Red Wings are 22/1 to win the Stanley Cup, which puts them behind 13 teams. I don't challenge where they sit in the pecking order, but the price is lower than it should be because of how much of a public team this is. They are the sixth choice at 10/1 to win the Eastern Conference and the fourth choice at 6/1 to win the Atlantic Division.
2014-15 Detroit Red Wings Predictions
It would seem statistically unlikely for this team to have to deal with so many key injuries again this year. Healthy, this is a team that makes the playoffs - though probably in the bottom half of the bracket. Once there they are good enough that if they get lucky they could make a nice run - like Montreal did last year. They are not serious championship contenders, though.
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