The Free Press’s Helene St. James projects the Red Wings’ 2019-2020 season-opening lineup this morning, discussing her picks for the Wings’ roster, the prospects who may make the team, and those who will start the year in Grand Rapids:
Line 1: Dylan Larkin centering Anthony Mantha and Tyler Bertuzzi
This line was put together with eight games to go last season and yielded 15 points from Mantha, 13 from Bertuzzi and 11 from Larkin. Larkin brings out the best in Mantha, as Mantha is all but forced to showcase his powerful stride because of how good a skater Larkin is. Bertuzzi is a combination pest and scorer. It’s easy to see how much they enjoy playing with one another.
Line 2: Frans Nielsen centering Andreas Athanasiou and Taro Hirose
Nielsen plays a 200-foot game and he and Athanasiou have clicked in the past. Hirose has some of that Thomas Vanek-level hockey IQ, and he and Athanasiou could be dangerous offensively while Nielsen brings defensive responsibility. I could see Filip Zadina being a fit down the road with Nielsen and Athanasiou.