Each day in the month of August we’ll be examining a different NHL team — from looking back at last season to discussing a player under pressure to identifying X-factors to asking questions about the future. Today we look at the Detroit Red Wings.
Any rebuild worth its salt begins with a solid prospect pool and that youthful exuberance that comes with it.
And if there’s one x-factor for the Detroit Red Wings this coming season, it’s just that: their youth — and it’s aplenty.
Throw out any expectations that Steve Yzerman’s arrival will mean an instant playoff contender. That simply shouldn’t be a mindset that anyone subscribes to.
This season is about one thing, and one thing only: development and taking the next step in a rebuild that will hopefully bring the once-mighty Red Wings back to life.
The good news here is they have assembled many of those pieces. Sure, they haven’t been lucky enough to get a Jack Hughes or a Kaapo Kakko in the draft, but never the less they’ve accumulated several picks have chosen wisely.
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Filip Zadina stands out up front while Filip Hronek does the same on the blue line.
And there are several other names to be excited about, from Joseph Veleno to Taro Hirose to Dennis Cholowski and Moritz Seider. Add Michael Rasmussen and Evgeny Svechnikov to that list as well.
Filip Larsson, who dominated in the USHL two seasons ago and made waves in the NCAA last season in Denver will now try and take the next step in the American Hockey League this season. Watching the whole of the Red Wings organization should be interesting this season, including their farm team.
And all of this complements a young roster well.
Dylan Larkin, Anthony Mantha, Andreas Athanasiou and Tyler Bertuzzi are all under 25 and all coming off career years and should only continue to grow.
There’s also a chance that the Red Wings can make a bigger splash in free agency next summer as some of their aging veterans come off the books (although the team will need to ready contracts for the trio of Mantha, Athanasiou and Bertuzzi.)
Detroit’s season may not play out nicely in the standings, but they could very well be an exciting team to watch as a bunch of young guns try and make their mark.
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Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck