Is Jeff Blashill ‘under the most pressure’ as the season approaches?

ESPN’s Emily Kaplan discusses the person or persons under the most pressure for each NHL team as we approach the 2018-19 season.

She suggests that the Red Wings’ coach will have to shoulder the burden of responsibility if the team struggles again:

Detroit Red Wings

Head coach Jeff Blashill

This really should be Ken Holland, considering no team in the league is as hamstrung with bloated, poorly aged contracts as the Red Wings. But the GM has built a lot of equity due to past glory, and ownership kept him around with a two-year extension this spring. So now the bull’s-eye is on Blashill, who has a winning percentage below .500, and just one playoff win in three seasons.

Kaplan continues, and there’s no doubt that Blashill will face pressure to perform this season, but I’d argue that the Wings’ blueliners are in the spotlight as the team prepares for training camp.

Khan discusses Mike Green’s role

MLive’s Ansar Khan discusses Mike Green’s 2018-19 season outlook this morning:

2018-19 outlook: The Red Wings re-signed Green due to their need for offense from the back end and his right-handed shot. It was a thin free-agent market on defense and, in all likelihood, only one defenseman from Grand Rapids (Filip Hronek) will be ready to start the season in Detroit. The Red Wings are rebuilding but want to dress a competitive lineup and believe Green will help in that regard.

In addition to his offense, Green is a good skater who moves the puck well but has been prone to turnovers.

He should be the point man on the top power-play unit under new assistant coach Dan Bylsma, whose primary task is improving a man-advantage that ranks last in the NHL over the past two seasons combined (16.3 percent).

Green is expected to be ready for the regular season opener but might be limited in training camp and the preseason following neck surgery in April.

Khan continues; coach Jeff Blashill suggested that Green won’t be cleared for contact until the preseason begins when Blashill spoke at the “Stars and Stripes Showdown.”

Green may have some defensive hiccups, but the Red Wings need his offensive abilities, so I would anticipate that Green will be used as the Wings’ default #1 offensive defenseman.

Khan discusses Dylan Larkin’s projected role

MLive’s Ansar Khan examines the 2018-19 season outlook for Dylan Larkin this morning:

2018-19 outlook: The franchise cornerstone signed a five-year, $30.5 million contract last month and is driven to improve as a player and a leader, likely the next team captain.

He improved significantly following a disappointing second season, adjusting well in his first full season at center. With Henrik Zetterberg not likely to play again due to back issues, Larkin will assume first-line center duty. The challenge is to continue improving offensively (scoring more goals, produce more on power play) while becoming a better defensive player. He needs to be more on the inside instead of using his speed to carry the puck around the perimeter in the offensive zone.

His drive and desire can’t be questioned. His motor is always on high and he is highly motivated to maximize his potential.

It remains to be seen who his wingers at the start of the season will be, but Anthony Mantha and 2018 top pick Filip Zadina are possibilities.

Khan continues, and I’m wondering whether Larkin will in fact be utilized as the Wings’ #1 center in all situations. I still see the coaching staff choosing to tab Frans Nielsen as the Wings’ shut-down center in defensive situations.

Trying to sort out Henrik Zetterberg’s situation

Henrik Zetterberg’s broke his silence regarding his back issues while I was away from the blog, and while time has passed, I’d like to review what Zetterberg had to say in Swedish and English, if only to try and sort things out for myself.

Zetterberg first spoke with Aftonbladet’s Pet Bjurman, the New York-based correspondent for Sportbladet, and here’s a rough translation of what Zetterberg had to say:

Continue reading Trying to sort out Henrik Zetterberg’s situation

On Hicketts’ to-do list’s Arthur J. Regner examines Joe Hicketts’ 2018-19 season outlook as based upon his 2017-18 “numbers” and comments, and Regner notes that Hicketts has spent his summer trying to improve his skating and conditioning–two things he needed to address.

Hicketts says this about year two of his AHL career…

Quotable: “It was exciting. I knew a little bit more about the league (AHL) and in that regard the league knew a little bit more about me. I wasn’t that small defenseman that people take for granted. I had some big hits last year and kind of put a number on my back, especially the amount of times we play each other in our division. Maybe a slump (last season), but I thought it was good, I progressed nicely. Getting that chance in Detroit was really exciting. I thought I played really well considering the time of year it was and how the team was doing, but it was very exciting for me.

And this about his summertime to-do list, which involved utilizing a skating coach and working out with NHL’ers in his hometown of Kamloops, British Columbia:

“Everything I did this summer was going towards making Detroit as a full-time roster member. Last year I wanted to make the team but knew in the back of my head, it was going to be another year in Grand Rapids with the reputation Detroit has of developing players. With that being said, they’re definitely in a rebuild. Coming into this summer I knew there was going to be a really good opportunity to open the door and get my foot in. It started last year when I got my five games, but again everything about this summer was getting myself in the best possible shape and mindset to play a full 82-game schedule in the National Hockey League. I’m going to get my work done in the summer and I’m going to make sure that I am coming to training camp ready to earn a job.” – Hicketts