Exciting times ahead in Motown. The Wings were active on FA Day bringing in much needed top six depth while staying away from costly trades or ill-timed signings.
I've seen a lot of fans chime in on line combinations lately, and without a doubt Mr. Babcock has plenty of options to play with. But, for the thrill of the guess, i'll post my idea of an ideal situation on opening night.
(LW) Nyquist (C) Zetterberg (RW) Datsyuk
(LW) Franzen (C) Weiss (RW) Alfredsson
(LW) Tatar (C) Helm (RW) Abdelkader
(LW) Miller (C) Andersson (RW) Cleary
Alternates: Emmerton, Eaves
Quick Call Ups: Jarnkrok, Jurco
I know folks won't like the Cleary placement but I think as a fourth line energy guy he brings a ton of grit and some scoring ability. Plus he can sit and let Eaves or Emmerton play once and awhile. Nyquist to the top line just makes sense to me. He needs someone to feed him the puck, is there anyone better than Datz and Zetterberg at that?
So What's Left?
Well, If we went into opening day like this, I'd be just fine. Honest. But ideally it would be nice to get some insurance on the Defensive end. That was a major concern last year, and while the addition of Dekeyser was HUGE, I still would like to see a big bodied stay at home guy that is steady and hits hard. Smid out of Edmonton would be great but might cost to much, perhaps Paetsch out of Grand Rapids has been steady and could fill the void.
As much as i'm leery with Gustavsson as the backup, I am confident that Mrazek is only a phone call away and will likely start a few games this season and slot in nicely as Jimmy's backup next season. I can handle the Monster playing 10-15 games for one more season. I just pray Howard stays injury free.
A word on the Development Camp
Development camp kicks off in Traverse City Michigan tomorrow. (And the first day is free too!) So if you're around the area be sure to grab a glimpse of the following players.
Darren Helm: The guy barely laced them up last season, but apparently he's good to go. Here's hoping his career gets back on track next year. We need his speed and penalty killing ability.
Anthony Mantha: Our coveted first round pick. I've been watching this guy for a while and I can't wait to see how he looks at camp. I'm hoping he moves straight to Grand Rapids next year (wishful thinking perhaps?)
Martin Frk: This guy is definitely going to Grand Rapids. And why not? He's done all he can do at the Junior level and he looks like a second round steal. I see Frk and Mantha forming the next Wings power line in a few years.
Andreas Athanasiou: He used to play for my hometown Knights in the OHL but the move to Barrie was much needed. He really stepped up his game in 2012/2013 scoring 67 points up from 37 in the previous year. I'm interested to see if he makes the leap as well. He could turn into a Jurco clone, and that's fine with me.
Zach Nastasiuk: Didn't hear much about him before the draft, have only heard good things about him since. Projects as a speedy and smart winger. He doubled his goal and point total last year in Owen Sound from 19 points to 40 points. Let's hope he does it again next year in his third OHL season.
Xavier Ouellet/Ryan Sproul: These guys go hand in hand. Both of them project to play in Grand Rapids next year and both dominated at the Junior level. I watched a lot of Ouellet this year and he looks good. Really good. He'll take some time in Grand Rapids and probably doesn't crack the Wings regular roster for another two years but once he does he'll stay. Big things for him and Sproul.
Well thanks for reading. My next blog will look at a few underrated players at the development camp and the invites including the head coaches son, another goalie named Jake Patterson and a gentleman named Silk.