Monday, September 28, 2009

TSN: Wings still Cup Threat posted this little preview of the Wings as they do their own 30 teams in 30 days, just as had a few months earlier. This should be interesting....

What They Did In The Off-Season:
The Red Wings took the off-season approach of if it ain't broke, why fix it? The team chose to tinker with their roster rather make wholesale changes to a team that was one game away from repeating as Stanley Cup Champions.

What moron would make wholesale changes to a team that won 7 out of 13 Stanley Cup Finals games in two years? This should come as no surprise. There is no better GM in the league, period.

Johan Franzen was rewarded for a career season with a new eleven-year deal while promising rookie Ville Leino re-upped for two more years in Motown. Marian Hossa, Mikael Samuelsson, Ty Conklin, Tomas Kopecky and Aaron Downey were all allowed to seek greener pastures elsewhere while it appears as though both Darren McCarty and Chris Chelios have played their final NHL games.

Let's get one thing straight: those players that left, left for selfish reasons. Sammy wanted more money and a bigger role, same with Downey and Conklin. Hossa left for more money and Kopecky followed him because Hossa probably commanded him to do so. If they wanted the best chance of winning a Stanley Cup, they would have stayed put. Let's move on...

After not receiving the offer he was looking for, Jiri Hudler signed with Dynamo Moscow of the KHL, setting off an international transfer incident that saw the Winged Wheel lose the promising youngster for nothing. Undaunted the Wings added Jeremy and Jason Williams, Todd Bertuzzi and Patrick Eaves in free agency while offering defenceman Andy Delmore and goaltender Dan Cloutier another shot at NHL glory.
Lose him Hudler for nothing? We kept him for nothing. His arbitration was more than fair so after he makes his tax free money, the "youngster" will be back in the Winged Wheel. It's almost a garuntee. Cloutier is gone, Delmore is Grand Rapids (for some reason). Really, Delmore looked better than Meech and Lebda. Dude has a heavy shot and has proved he can play with the big boys. Sending him to GR is the only move that has me baffled at this point.

Biggest Issue Facing The Team:
Despite losing several key pieces this summer, the Wings enter the season in their traditional position, legitimate Stanley Cup threat. Detroit remain the model NHL franchise thanks to rock solid ownership, astute management and perhaps the best scouting staff in the business. Additionally, the Wings are amongst the deepest teams in the NHL, featuring a scoring punch from all four lines as well as one of the top defensive corps in all of hockey.

Bingo bango, I'll take the whitefish.
The only question is: how long can the Wings stay at the top. While they have done a phenomenal job at integrating a younger generation of superstars into the mix, a good portion of the core of the roster are all on the wrong side of 30. While Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg are as dynamic a duo as you will find in hockey, the team remains incredibly dependent on players such as Tomas Holmstrom, Kris Draper, Kirk Maltby, Nicklas Lidstrom, Brian Rafalski and Chris Osgood, the youngest of which is 35. One way of looking at this is to say that the Wings are experienced; the other way is saying that they are old.

Incredibly dependent on Draper and Maltby? Someone didn't do their research. Draper is fourth line and Maltby is our reserve forward, just one step ahead of Derek Meech. Oh and the dynamic duo? Not playing together...ever. Mike told us so.

The NHL is a young man's game, and father time may finally be catching up with Detroit. That being said there are about 29 other general managers who would love to have the Wings problem. The Red Wings are as intelligent and well coached as any team in the league. Even if they take a step backwards they are far too talented to fall much further than second in the Central Division. Fortunately for management, the Wings are not the type of team that will rest on its laurels. While most would consider back-to-back Finals appearances a success, Detroit looks at it as a partial failure as they were only able to come home with a solitary Cup. Last year's loss likely weighs heavily on the team's shoulders. A chance to exorcise those demons by making another run at the Stanley Cup should be motivation enough for another big season.

Haven't you been reading? These guys are angry about the way last season turned out. One game away from back to back Cups has them frothing at the mouth. You better believe that motivation isn't going to be a factor this year. I'm guessing that rubs off on the new guys as well. This is going to be a much more entertaining regular season, count on it.

Player To Watch:
Considering his credentials there may be no more maligned player than Chris Osgood. At some point ‘Ozzie' must wonder what he has to do to prove that he is an elite talent. He has three Stanley Cup rings to go along with two Jennings trophies and a pair of All-Star game appearances. While he struggled through a mediocre regular season, he more than redeemed himself by helping lead the Wings back to the Finals. Still every year there are those that point to the Wings goal tending as the team's biggest area of concern.

I'm still saying he has it fixed. Forget about the pre-season. Ozzie is a pro and knows that he can't have another regular season like last year. We'll be just fine.

Is it Wednesday yet?

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