The Red Wings turned in their first season without Nicklas Lidstrom in a long while and they surprised many people by making the playoffs for the 22nd straight time. They might have had their worst roster in the last two decades but with Mike Babcock at the helm they were able to win their final four games and generate a playoff birth.
There have been many changes for the Red Wings this season. They brought aboard the former Ottawa Seantor Daniel Alfredsson who signed for a one year $5.5 million dollar contract. The 40 year old has been a solid and productive hockey player for numerous years and playing in Detroit should be no exception. Hockey fans should note December 1st when the Red Wings play the Senators for the first time during the 2013-2014 campaign. Detroit also snagged one of the most underrated players in the league in Stephen Weiss from the Florida Panthers. Weiss had scored 20 or more goals in three straight seasons before suffering a wrist injury last season. Weiss received a large five year worth $24.5 million dollars. The Red Wings are expecting big things from the centerman especially with the loss of Valtteri Filppula.
On the offensive side other then the additions already noted, Pavel Datsyuk will be returning. There were rumors that he might have been going over to the KHL but the 35 year old will continue his career in the United States. The top line centerman had 49 points last season, leading the Red Wings. Zetterberg will be back as well and he had 48 points in 46 games. Justin Abdelkader is listed on the top line right now playing right wing with Zetterberg and Datsyuk. Johan Franzen is expected to play with Alfredsson thi season. The big Swede had 31 points in 41 games last season. There is no doubt that Detroit has the depth at offensive for another run at Lord Stanleys Cup.
There has been little change to the defensive situation for the Red Wings. They gave up fewer than 2.30 goals against per game last season which means there was no need to fix what was not broke. The Kronwall and Ericsson pair will return as the top defensive unit. Jakub Kindl is a solid NHL defenseman and you have to like how Danny DeKeyser played late last season. Rounding out the Red Wings defensive core are Brendan Smith and Kyle Quincy, both providing depth to the lineup.
Goaltending was not a problem for the Red Wings last season as Jimmy Howard continues to improve between the pipes. He went 21-13-7 with a 2.13 GAA and a .923 SV%. Behind Howard is Jonas Gustavsson who was impressive in his four starts. Gustavsson went 2-2-1 with a 2.92 GAA.
The big change for the Red Wings is the division that they will be playing in. Detroit is no longer in the increasingly difficult Central Division but they are moving East to the Atlantic Division. The Red Wings will join Boston, Ottawa, Montreal, Toronto, Tampa Bay, Buffalo and Florida in the new Atlantic. This is a much easier division on paper and we predict that they will be making the post season for the 23rd consecutive time.
Odds to win the Stanley Cup: 15/1