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2017-2018 NHL Preview: Detroit Red Wings

The young forwards I trust, the defense and goalies, not so much.

James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

In this 31 part series, I will be working my way back from 31st to 1st in my projected 2017-2018 standings. Sixth up is the Detroit Red Wings who missed the playoffs last year after 25 consecutive seasons of making the playoffs.

Basic Stats:
2016-2017 NHL Standings: 25th
Eastern Conference Standings: 14th
Atlantic Division Standings: 7th
Goals for Rank: 26th
Goals against Rank: 24th

Overview: The Detroit Red Wings are victims of inevitability. 25 consecutive seasons is an impressive feat but as they lose the tenured vets of Nicholas Lidstrom, Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg and aren't able to immediately backfill all-star talent of that caliber they find themselves in a slow rebuild. They have young talent but to me, their issue remains in net where Petr Mrazek and Jimmy Howard are streaky and inconsistent. The ability of their building of young talent over the years might have created an over hype train for Gustav Nyquist and Tomas Tatar as well as Dylan Larkin (whose true production lies closer to the 45 point season in 2015-2016 than the sophomore slump of 32 point season he had in 2016-2017). I remain bullish on Andreas Athanasiou to have a breakout year at some point soon so while I anticipate their goals for to rise above the 26th ranking of last year, I don't think the goals against will increase much from 24th last year. The addition of Brendan Smith and Steve Ott coupled with increase in usage of Jonathan Ericsson has me wondering if there is a changing of the guard towards a more physical team.

Major Additions: None.
Major Subtractions: Travis Harmonic, Ryan Strome

Prospects and Picks:
-Michael Rasmussen. Taken 9th overall in the 2017 draft, Michael is 6'5 and 203lbs. He's physical and not afraid to use his size, but he also produces, he had 55 points in 50 games in the WHL last year and will serve as a good power forward. He needs work on his skating and his hands could use some work as he works his way over the next 1-2 years up to the big show.

-Evgeny Svechnikov. Last year with the Grand Rapids Griffins, he had 51 points across 74 games before getting called up for 2 games. He has quick hands and good on ice vision, I ‘think' he will crack the lineup within the first 20-30 games this season but it remains to be seen if it happens given they gave him the summer off. Current coach Jeff Blashill would have seen quite a bit of Evgeny Svechnikov as the previous coach for the Griffins and might be more willing to bring him up and utilize him.

Sleeper Fantasy Asset:
-Andreas Athanasious. In his first year in the NHL, Andreas had 14 points across 37GPshooting 17% shooting percentage with 9 minutes ATOI/G. His second year he played 64 games scoring 29 points with 15% shooting percentage across 13.28 minutes ATOI/G. He's playing 3rd line minutes but I believe he can be a first line talent. I think across 82 games this year it's not unrealistic to see 40 points with 13% shooting percentage across 16 minutes ATOI/G.

-Dylan Larkin. Shoot the puck. If I'm Jeff Blashill that's what I'm telling Dylan. 221 shots and 23 goals in 2015-2016 season dropped down to 178 shots and 17 goals last year. The Red Wings were on the forefront of the shoot early and often trend being the leader in shots on goal for years. Last year they were 24th in the league. They have young gritty talent with guys like Darren Helm, Anthony Mantha, Justin Abdelkader and Andreas Athanasiou, the more chaos they can create in front of the net the better it serves for them. I think Dylan becomes a 45+ point talent and will be watching actively if he slips this year.

-Anthony Mantha. I feel like I have to put him up here as he scored 36 points across 60 points last year and is the front runner for being on the top line with Henrik Zetterberg and Tomas Tatar. Personally I don't think he's as talented as Dylan Larkin and Andreas Athanasiou and he benefited from a strong bounce back campaign that 36 year old Henrik Zetterberg had with 68 points, I don't think it's going to be repeated.

Cap Situation:
They currently have around $2.3MM in cap space with 20 players signed.

Projected finish:
2017-2018 NHL Standings: 25th
Eastern Conference Standings: 14th
Atlantic Division: 6th

NHL 27th: New York Islanders (Eastern Conference 15th; Metropolitan Division 8th)

NHL 28th: Vancouver Canucks (Western Conference 13th; Pacific Division 7th)

NHL 29th: Florida Panthers (Eastern Conference 16th; Atlantic Division 8th)

NHL 30th: Las Vegas Golden Knights (Western Conference 14th; Pacific Division 8th)

NHL 31st: Colorado Avalanche (Western Conference 15th; Central Division 7th)