There are questions surrounding Detroit’s defensive depth after the departures of both Brad Stuart and Nicklas Lidstrom this summer.
Up front, it’s a different story.
That’s what Wings GM Ken Holland told the Detroit Free Press on Monday, suggesting that his squad will have 16 players battling for the 14 forward spots on the active roster.
The 16 are (projected): Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, Johan Franzen, Valtteri Filppula, Mikael Samuelsson, Dan Cleary, Darren Helm, Todd Bertuzzi, Jordin Tootoo, Damien Brunner, Patrick Eaves, Gustav Nyquist, Drew Miller, Jan Mursak, Cory Emmerton and Justin Abdelkader.
All are under contact except for Abdelkader, who Holland continues speaking with on a weekly basis. The Free Press reports Holland’s “closing in on a contract” with the 25-year-old RFA, likely to be in the $1.5 million cap hit range.
There are a number of compelling battles brewing. Eaves missed most of last season with a concussion, but says he’s feeling better and expects to be ready for training camp.
Mike Babcock said Brunner — the reigning Swiss league scoring champ — will “be a top-six forward to start” and Nyquist will push hard for a spot after debuting strongly for the Wings in 2011-12 (seven points in 18 games.)