NHL.com’s ’31 in 31′ series previews the Red Wings

NHL.com’s “31 in 31” series of season previews focuses on the Red Wings today.

NHL.com has posted five articles and a series of videos previewing the Red Wings heading into the 2019-2020 season, and Nicholas J. Cotsonika leads off NHL.com’s coverage with a discussion of the biggest change the Wings made to their team–the hiring of Steve Yzerman:

“I know everyone feels his presence already, just him being around, him being back with our organization,” center Dylan Larkin said. “Everyone’s on their toes. Everyone’s prepared. It’s a great thing to have.”

Yzerman played his entire 22-season NHL career as a center for the Red Wings from 1983-2006, winning the Stanley Cup in 1997, 1998 and 2002. He won the Cup again with the Red Wings in 2008 as vice president before leaving for the Tampa Bay Lightning, for whom he was GM from 2010-18 and senior adviser last season.

“Obviously, knowing who he is, you’re nervous when you’re around him,” Larkin said with a laugh. “But he’s a great guy. He’s a classy guy, and he does the right things all the time. He’s here to help us and help our organization, and he’s back home. So we’re thrilled.”

Cotsonika continues, speaking with both Larkin and Danny DeKeyser, and you may not be comfortable with this, but you’d better get used to it: the Red Wings’ players are going to insist that they can make the playoffs this season, and as athletes, they’re wired to believe that they can win, so here we go:

“I think it’s all excitement,” Larkin said. “I think a long summer like we’ve had, you can’t forget the young guys that we have.”

The focus is on the long term, but there is hope in the short term too.

“I think we’re close,” DeKeyser said. “We want to make the playoffs. I definitely think we have a team that can do it. We’ve got some high-end skill up front and some speed too. The way the game’s going, it’s all about speed and getting up and down the ice and that kind of thing. So I think that works well for us. We’ve got young players who are growing and getting better every year, so I think guys will take another step this year.”

Here’s the rest of NHL.com’s “31 in 31” Wings coverage:

Cotsonika examines 3 big questions facing the Red Wings as the new season approaches, and I would not be surprised to see the answer to this question involve signing players to professional try-out contracts:

Will they add any more players to their roster?

Some of that might depend on [Niklas] Kronwall and some might depend on how younger players look in training camp.

After the Red Wings signed [Patrik] Nemeth and center Valtteri Filppula on July 1, Yzerman was asked if any other moves were forthcoming.

“Um, no, I think I would mull over a couple of other things,” Yzerman said. “We have a spot, potentially, on our roster on right wing. I don’t want to fill it just to fill it because it gives us some options for some of our younger players to see if they’re ready, and it leaves opportunity maybe for something to come along between now and the start of the regular season.

“So I’m not really in a hurry. But if I could add another winger, I would consider that and potentially look at maybe another defenseman. But we weigh adding another one versus just leaving a spot for one of our younger guys on the roster, maybe decided at training camp or after training camp. If the right player and the right contract come along, we would consider signing another one.”

Continued, and let’s be honest here, it’s nice to see Wings fans on Twitter suggesting that it’s time to #GiveLarkstheC, but that’s approximately a 100% certainty.

The question is only “when,” not “whether” or “if.”

Cotsonika also examines the Red Wings’ top 5 prospects, and Filip Zadina’s up-and-down rookie pro season hasn’t taken away from his long-term potential:

Filip Zadina, F

How acquired: Selected with No. 6 pick in 2018 NHL Draft

Last season: Detroit: 9 GP, 1-2-3; Grand Rapids (AHL) 59 GP, 16-19-35

The Red Wings have high hopes for Zadina (6-foot, 195 pounds), a skilled shooter with the potential to be a prolific goal-scorer in the NHL. The 19-year-old likely will start with Grand Rapids of the American Hockey League for a second straight season.

Zadina, whose ice time at Red Wings development camp in June was limited because of a sore hamstring sustained during offseason training, had 82 points (44 goals, 38 assists) in 57 games for Halifax of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League in 2017-18. But he had to learn the details of playing a two-way game as a pro and spent most of last season with Grand Rapids, where he was minus-17. He played nine late-season games for Detroit and was minus-5.

“Obviously lots of new experiences during the season, ups and downs,” Zadina said. “Obviously I enjoyed the time here in Detroit. I think I’ll take it. I’ll take it as it was and I think it was a good season for me. I got to learn something and I hope and I believe that next season will be way better.”

NHL.com posted a video spotlighting the Wings’ prospects as they rate among the NHL’s prospect pipelines, too:

Shifting gears, NHL.com’s Brett Amandon offers a Red Wings fantasy hockey preview, and the Wings do not offer much fantasy hockey bang for one’s buck (at least based on the NHL.com rankings)…

Dylan Larkin, C (NHL.com rank: 89) — He doubled his goal total (32 last season; 16 in 2017-18) and was nearly a point-per-game player (NHL career-high 73 in 76 games). Larkin is a fast skater who plays in all situations (15 power-play points, three shorthanded points last season) and is strong on face-offs (865 face-off wins, eighth in NHL; 54.5 percent). He’s a high-volume shooter (287 shots on goal last season) with a relatively low shooting percentage (11.1; 9.6 in NHL career), leaving room for an even higher goal output. Larkin should be targeted in the 76-90 range of standard drafts and much higher in keeper leagues.

But NHL.com’s Rob Reese offers some key statistics which may help your fantasy hockey team thrive:

Mantha points

Despite missing 15 games last season, Red Wings forward Anthony Mantha tied an NHL career-high with 48 points (25 goals, 23 assists) in 67 games, and led the NHL with 15 points (eight goals, seven assists) from March 23 to the end of the season. During this productive period, Mantha skated mostly on the top line with center Dylan Larkin and forward Tyler Bertuzzi, who was tied for second in the same span with 13 points (five goals, eight assists). Detroit quietly found its best top line combination, and that success could be sustainable; Mantha’s plus-157 SAT last season was second among Red Wings skaters behind Larkin (plus-192).

Finally, NHL.com’s posted a smorgasbord of Red Wings-related videos, including EJ Hradek and Jon Rosen’s 5-and-a-half-minute Wings preview…

The NHL Tonight discusses Larkin’s candidacy for the captaincy…

And Hradek scouts the GM…

Before Ken Daniels is asked to weigh in regarding Larkin, Yzerman and much more over the course of an 8-minute interview…

And finally, NHL.com posted a set of 10 Dylan Larkin plays from the 2018-19 season…

As well as Jimmy Howard’s top 5 saves:

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George Malik

My name is George Malik, and I'm the Malik Report's editor/blogger/poster. I have been blogging about the Red Wings since 2006, when MLive hired me to work their SlapShots blog, and I joined Kukla's Korner in 2011 as The Malik Report. I'm starting The Malik Report as a stand-alone site, hoping that having my readers fund the website is indeed the way to go to build a better community and create better content.