Dobber's offseason fantasy hockey grades – Detroit Red Wings
For the last 15 years (12 with The Hockey News, last year’s via pinch-hitter Cam Robinson) Dobber has reviewed each team from a fantasy-hockey standpoint and graded them.
The 16th annual review will appear here on DobberHockey throughout the summer. This is not a review of the likely performance on the ice or in the standings, but in the realm of fantasy hockey.
Gone – Jared Coreau, Xavier Ouellet, David Booth
Impact of changes – Amazingly, this team with zero superstars, two aging stars in Mike Green and Henrik Zetterberg, and a handful of maybes – is close to the salary cap. Forwards with a cap hit of $3 million or more this season: Henrik Zetterberg, Fans Nielsen, Gustav Nyquist, Justin Abdelkader, Darren Helm, Anthony Mantha, Thomas Vanek, Andreas Athanasiou – plus Johan Franzen to go on long-term IR though there are rumors that Zetterberg has been unable to work out properly this summer and could possibly retire (!). Defensemen making $4 million or more: Mike Green, Danny DeKeyser, Niklas Kronwall, Jonathan Ericsson plus making $3.17 million is Trevor Daley. With not one of those salaries considered a “steal”, and several of them considered pretty crappy, well this is a team in trouble.
Out of the placeholders they…er, rather…of the “players” they acquired this summer, Bernier was a pretty good deal at three years and $3 million per season. Especially considering he could be their starter in 2019-20 if he proves himself ready this year. And Vanek is only for one year. Rybar is also potentially a good pro goaltender, depending on how he performs in the AHL this year. Throw in a very good draft and the Red Wings are having a solid offseason. But they dug themselves a deep hole and need a player or two to – dare I suggest – overachieve?
One thing to watch for is Jimmy Howard’s starts getting cut back from the 60 he had last year. Think closer to 45 or 50. Another thing to look out for is Justin Abdelkader’s power-play time. With Vanek on the team now, Abdelkader will likely lose a bit of PP time which will make last season’s slight offensive resurgence short-lived.
Ready for full-time – Evgeni Svechnikov is coming off a terrible season in the AHL. The shifty winger turned things around a little in the second half, but overall it was a write-off. That is, except for his 14 games with the big club. He looked there, which lends credence to the possibility that he actually makes the team out of training camp. In which case, expect third-line minutes. I have him penciled in for another partial season of about 15 to 20 games, while hoping for a turnaround at the AHL level. (Read Svechnikov's scouting profile here)
Filip Zadina, only 18 and recently drafted sixth overall, actually stands a better chance of making the team than Svechnikov. The sniping winger certainly has the confidence – if only that were a measurable statistic! He will almost certainly get a few games in just to see – and if he produces it will be hard to send him down. The main thing against him is that he is eligible to play in the AHL this year. So he can learn a lot playing against men there as opposed to dominating the QMJHL again. (Read Zadina's scouting profile here)
Filip Hronek is a dynamic offensive rearguard who has adapted quickly to the North American pro game and has moved just as quickly up the depth chart. As a 20-year-old he posted 39 points in 67 games for Grand Rapids. I have him joining the big club by midseason of 2018-19 and even having some fantasy value at that time. (Read Hronek's scouting profile here)
Patrik Rybar will get in a start or two this season, as long as he doesn’t blow it in the AHL. Both Howard and Bernier have their injury issues from time to time, allowing the Wings to get a peek at both Rybar and Sateri to see if either have potential as a backup for the club next year. (Read Rybar's scouting profile here)
Detroit Red Wings prospect depth chart and fantasy upsides can be found here (not yet ready for mobile viewing, desktop only right now)
Fantasy Outlook – At the end of last season I wouldn’t have touched any Detroit players with a ten-foot pole. Goaltending was subpar, the offense was nonexistent, and the defensemen were terrible (from a fantasy standpoint). One player reaching 60 points? Yikes. But things have improved this summer, after Detroit picked up four very promising prospects at this year’s draft – in my mind that pretty much doubles the amount of good fantasy prospects they have in the system. Furthermore, they get Niklas Kronwall’s contract off the books next summer, as well as Jimmy Howard’s and Vanek’s as well. And if Gustav Nyquist doesn’t get going, then his contract will go too. Time all that with an influx of talent who should be ready for the 2019-20 season (Michael Rasmussen, plus they have several intriguing defensemen, in addition to the prospects listed above) and there is hope that they are turning the corner soon.
Fantasy Grade: D+ (last year was C-)
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