In my last blog https://my.hockeybuzz.com/blog.php?post_id=18273&user_id=260089 I looked at possible trades based on strong performances. While I’m not eager to see it ever happen, Athanasiou could be the strongest piece Steve Yzerman could part with to bring in a young defenseman who could help the team moving forward. I have a feeling this will be a career year for A.A. Yzerman has already stated he believes Athanasiou is best suited on the wing, as opposed to center. Depending on who is setting him up, this could be a huge boost for the speedster.
That being said, I’m wondering what anyone else thinks about potential this year. I’m sticking to the “known versus unknown” just because there is familiarity here. I don’t know if Zadina will make the team (or Veleno) and it is really hard to guess first year stats. That being said, here are my top 3 in a couple categories.
I believe Athanasiou will lead the way here. He is extra motivated and will be looking for a raise. He hit 30 last year, i think he could hit 35+. I think Larkin will come in right around 30 again. He’s a hard worker and will be getting a lot of minutes. In third place I’ll put Mantha. He’s starting to find his game. He may also hit the 30 goal mark this year. It would be a huge step forward to see 3 forwards hit 30 goals in Detroit.
I think Larkin will lead here. He had 41 helpers last year in 76 games played. Nyquist only played 62 for Detroit and was second highest at 33. This could be the year of 80+ points for Larkin. I think he could hit the 30 goal/50 assist mark. On the current roster, Bertuzzi was next in line with 26 assists. I think he’ll be second on the team again but will see 35+ assists working with Mantha and Larkin regularly. In third, I’ll put Mantha. He could have a career year with 30 and 30, 60 points. That top line will probably account for most scoring by an unfortunate margin. Athanasiou will be getting goals but doesn’t seem to be the set up guy that Larkin is.
I hope that someone blows me away this year, but it’s not an easy thing in this league, and in our division. Do you agree with any of my picks? Any Dark Horse candidate? Would love to see your thoughts!