This season is nearly upon us, and I’m not sure if I could be any more giddy. I’ve been dying for this season to get underway, and as much as the pre-season wet my whistle, I’m pumped to see what’s coming next. Here’s my take on the season to come, and 5 bold predictions that lie ahead of us.
Andersson will be traded by the the end of 2014
As mentioned in previous blogs, I believe that Joakim Andersson is one of the odd-men-out on the Wings roster. With players like Sheahan and Tatar proving themselves well so far, combined with Anderssson’s sub-par pre-season, it’s not looking so hot for the 25 year old Swede. With Datsyuk hurt to start the season, Andersson has to prove that he belongs. Even still, with Nyquist, Weiss and Helm all (relatively) healthy, Andersson is already the odd-man out of the top 6 . This may be the season that the Wings flip him for a draft pick; they’re a little top heavy on forwards as is.
Howard will finish with 32+ wins
Okay, this prediction isn’t insanely bold, but I really do believe that Howard will bounce back after his worst year as a starter. Howard’s 0.910 SV% was his second lowest as a starter, and his 2.66 GAA was his worst. However, that GAA wasn’t helped by the Wings losing many of their strong defensive centres throughout the season. Howard has hit the gym hard, and even changed his equipment and feels like he is in the best shape of his career. This will be a bounce back year for him, and with the new blood in the defence this year, and a little fairy dust, Howard will reach 32 wins this season, something he has done 3 times prior.
Mrazek will start 15 games
Another goalie prediction that I can see coming to fruition. Mrazek played in 9 games last season as injury relief, but his numbers were pretty incredible. His GAA sat at 1.74 with 2 shutouts, and had a 0.927 SV% in those games. This is, of course, on top of his season long 2.10 GAA and 0.924 SV% in the AHL. Mrazek has a Calder Cup under his belt, and is quite ready to push Gustavsson (who got shelled for 5 goals against the Leafs) out of his spot on the Wings roster. This will be the season that Babcock and co. let Mrazek take on more responsibility with the big boys.
Riley Sheahan will score 20 goals
Sheahan has had a fantastic pre-season and is in prime position for a breakout year. Before last season, he had only played 2 games in the NHL, so this past year’s 42 was a big jump. Looking strictly at stats, if he played a full 82 games he would have scored 17 goals, so 20 wouldn’t be farfetched. I think that Sheahan will be a mainstay on this Wings team, and while he won’t be higher than line 2 very often, he managed 9 goals last season with 14:27 ATOI, which I imagine he’ll be close to again this season. He has power play experience, along with being quite good on the PK, and Babcock trusts him. It would be tough to see him sit in the AHL, so assuming he gets 70+ games, 20 goals is definitely within his reach.
Nyquist will lead the team in scoring
I’m torn as to whether this prediction is the boldest, or the tamest. Nyquist has been a bright light for the Wings in some dark times. He notched 48 points in only 57 games (0.84 PPG) last year as a 24 year old, and has only grown and matured this off season. His injury isn’t too severe, and he should be ready for the start of the season. Nyquist and the Wings haven’t scheduled an MRI, and he has already come back to the ice to play on October 1st.
Nyquist was second in team scoring, behind Kronwall and Alfredsson by only one point, and he played 11 less games than Alfredsson. Assuming Datsyuk and Zetterberg play a full season (knock on wood), the should both drop under a point per game given their age, which gives Nyquist a huge chance to lead the team in the scoring department. Playing with Zetterberg most of the season will be a huge boost to Nyquist as the Swedes had some good chemistry last season in limited time together.
This will be a big year for the Detroit Red Wings. Their playoff streak goes on the line yet again, and with how much experience the youth players got last year, it should be an exciting season to watch this team grow and develop.
I’m Osgood’s Bucket; keep your stick on the ice.