Danny DeKeyser

Red Wings injury
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Injury updates on Red Wings’ Green, Mantha

Not much is going right for the Detroit Red Wings this season. They have what is by far the worst record in the league, are on track for one of the worst seasons in franchise history and of the entire modern era in the NHL, and enter Wednesday’s game against the Minnesota Wild (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN) on a five-game losing streak.

They will also be without two more veterans in that game as defenseman Mike Green and forward Frans Nielsen will be sidelined after exiting Monday’s game in Colorado.

Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill announced on Tuesday that Green will likely be sidelined for a few weeks, while Nielsen’s injury seems to be more short-term.

Green and Nielsen are two of the veteran players on the Red Wings’ roster and are both struggling to produce when healthy. The Red Wings as a team have missed more than 200 man-games due to injury this season. Along with Green and Nielsen, the Red Wings are also currently without Anthony Mantha (more on him in a second), Andreas Athanasiou, Danny DeKeyser, and goalie Jonathan Bernier.

Mantha still at least a month away

Mantha’s injury has been one of the most significant. He has been sidelined on two different occasions this season, and most recently since mid-December with an upper-body injury.

Blashill said on Tuesday that Mantha is still at least a month away from returning and that it’s “going to be a while before he is healed.”

Even though Mantha has played in just 29 games for the Red Wings this season he is still the team’s third-leading goal scorer (12 goals) and fifth in total points (24 points). He scored 25 goals (with 48 total points) in 67 games a year ago. Since becoming a regular in the Red Wings’ lineup he’s scored at a 30-goal pace over 82 games. The 25-year-old forward is a restricted free agent after this season.

Related: NHL Injury Round: Adam Lowry to miss four weeks; Schultz, Krejci nearing returns

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

Detroit signs Smith to two-year, $5.5 million extension

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The Red Wings have reached an agreement with RFA blueliner Brendan Smith, signing him to a two-year, $5.5 million deal with a $2.75M average annual cap hit.

Smith, 26, was Detroit’s first-round pick at the 2007 draft and appeared in a career-high 76 games last year.

Despite that games played total, it wasn’t an incredibly successful campaign; Smith’s numbers took a dip (in points and minutes per game, specifically) and former head coach Mike Babcock made him a healthy scratch for Game 1 of the club’s opening-round series against Tampa Bay.

Still, Smith figures to be a fairly key cog of Detroit’s defense moving forward.

He’s scored himself a pretty decent raise — up from the $1.26M he was making annually on his old deal — and should be firmly planted in the top-six group alongside Niklas Kronwall, Kyle Quincey, Jonathan Ericsson, Jakub Kindl and Danny DeKeyser next season.

Babcock won’t discuss future yet, but sees challenges ahead for Wings

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Are the Detroit Red Wings a team moving up courtesy of a young core led by Tomas Tatar, Gustav Nyquist, Riley Sheahan, Danny DeKeyser, and Petr Mrazek? Or are they a fading dynasty having already lost former leaders like Nicklas Lidstrom and on the brink of watching the two stars they have left head off into the sunset?

“Who’s going to replace Pav?” head coach Mike Babcock asked, per NHL.com’s Аrpon Basu. One of the best two-way forwards in the game, Pavel Datsyuk will turn 37 in July. Henrik Zetterberg will celebrate his 35th birthday in October.

“Our team is not as good as it was,” Babcock also noted, according to Postmedia News’ Michael Traikos.

That’s hard to dispute. Detroit has only won a single playoff series in its last four campaigns after reaching the Stanley Cup Final in back-to-back years in 2008-09. They won it all in 2008. Once Zetterberg and Datsyuk are gone or even just less effective, will the Red Wings start missing the playoffs entirely? Do they have anyone on their roster capable of filling that massive void?

Certainly the future isn’t all fire and brimstone for Detroit. The players mentioned off the bat have proven to be solid contributors and with their help, Detroit both made the playoffs and gave Tampa Bay a run for its money in the first round. The fact that the Red Wings came within a hair of advancing can’t be just brushed under the rug.

That being said, Babcock has raised legitimate points, and it will only add fuel to the speculation that the highly regarded coach will walk as a free agent this summer. Babcock didn’t confirm anything tonight, but Edmonton, Philadelphia, Buffalo, Toronto, and likely others would certainly be eager to sign him if he’s available.

Kronwall ‘extremely disappointed’ with Game 7 suspension

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Niklas Kronwall met with reporters on Wednesday, making his first comments since being suspended for Game 7 of the Tampa Bay series for a charge on Bolts forward Nikita Kucherov:

One guy not interested in talking about the Kronwall suspension was Detroit head coach Mike Babcock, who’d only say “I think if I talk about Game 7, then I won’t get fined.”

As for tonight, Kronwall won’t be the only veteran d-man out of the lineup. Marek Zidlicky has been sidelined by a concussion, forcing Detroit to ice a six-man defensive unit comprised of:

Jonathan Ericsson — Alexey Marchenko
Danny DeKeyser — Kyle Quincey
Brendan Smith — Jakub Kindl

Replacing veterans Kronwall and Zidlicky will be tough. The pair combined to play over 41 minutes in Monday’s Game 6 loss in Detroit.

Not just Kronwall — Zidlicky (concussion) also expected to miss Game 7

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As if playing without Nicklas Kronwall wasn’t going to be enough of a challenge, it appears the Detroit Red Wings will also be without Marek Zidlicky for Game 7 of their series with the Lightning tonight in Tampa Bay.

Zidlicky reportedly suffered a concussion in Game 6. He did not skate this morning. (Update: Zidlicky is confirmed out, per coach Mike Babcock.)

With two veteran defensemen missing — one suspended, the other hurt — Detroit’s defense is expected to look like this:

Jonathan Ericsson — Alexey Marchenko
Danny DeKeyser — Kyle Quincey
Brendan Smith — Jakub Kindl

Neither Marchenko nor Kindl dressed for Game 6, in which Kronwall logged 24:16 and Zidlicky 17:22. In fact, Kindl has yet to appear in the postseason; he last played April 11 in Carolina.

Related: Can Mrazek steal Game 7 for Red Wings?