Dobber's offseason fantasy hockey grades – Detroit Red Wings
For the last 16 years (12 with The Hockey News) Dobber has reviewed each team from a fantasy-hockey standpoint and graded them.
The 17th 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.
Impact of changes – The addition of Steve Yzerman as GM, based on what he did with Tampa Bay, means that drafting fantasy-worthy players will improve (he focuses on the skilled guys more than the ‘heart’ or ‘work ethic’ or ‘leader’ guys). It also means that you’ll wait a little longer for prospects in a sense. “In a sense” because on one hand, it’s doubtful that teenagers make the team. On the other hand though, if a player is going to make the team he’ll probably do it by the age of 21 or 22. In three years I feel he will have molded this team back into an offensive force.
Filppula adds experience, Erne adds some grit and Pickard is a real good goalie to have as a No.3. He didn’t get a fair shake in a proper environment last year and I hope he gets a shot this year.
Ready for full-time – Evgeni Svechnikov was having a great camp last year when he tore his ACL and missed the entire season. For that reason, he may begin the year in the AHL. With another great camp and a hot start with Grand Rapids, Svechnikov could finally show the big club what they were hoping to get when they drafted him 19th overall in 2015.
Prognosticators are split on Filip Zadina this year. Some feel he will make the team. I do not. Sure, he’ll get a couple of cups of coffee as injuries permit, but the aforementioned Steve Yzerman theory means that he won’t be rushed. It’s never a bad thing to leave a teenager in the minors for an extra year.
Filip Hronek took over the blue line on the power play for this team last year. After Dennis Cholowski’s impressive training camp and surprise addition to the starting roster, Hronek continued to dazzle with 24 points in 31 games. When he was called up to Detroit the team couldn’t send him down again. He was putting up points even without PP time. So Coach Jeff Blashill eventually gave it to him and he ran with it. It was Cholowski was sent to the minors. Hronek makes a sneaky-good – check that, sneaky-great – pick later in your draft. Trust me on that one.
Cholowski struggled defensively and he never could right the ship. He had 10 points in 18 games to start the campaign, but his unreliability defensively started costing him ice time. Which cost him production. Which cost him more ice time. Eventually it was too much. When he was sent to Grand Rapids he had a minus-20 rating despite being heavily sheltered and almost never out there against the other team’s best lines or for defensive-zone faceoffs. His spot on the roster is not guaranteed, but I have him as a regular throughout the season.
Oliwer Kaski was a coveted offensive defenseman in Finland, posting 51 points in 59 games over there. Never drafted, the 24-year-old signed with the Wings at the end of May. He posted two assists in 10 games at the Worlds for Team Finland. He’s on the fast track to the NHL and could be on the team by Christmas.
Taro Hirose was arguably the most coveted college free agent that NHL teams were after. Detroit got him, likely due to the fact that they had a need up front and were one of the better teams in terms of providing him an opportunity. Boy, did he take advantage. The 23-year-old posted an assist in each of his first five career NHL games, and then scored in his seventh. He ended up with seven points in 10 games, giving him a leg up in the battle for roster spots. He has a very good chance at starting on the second line.
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 – The Red Wings didn’t have much in the way of appealing players beyond Dylan Larkin a year ago. Just a lot of ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’. In the final quarter, however, Larkin found himself two linemates that were a perfect fit. He, Tyler Bertuzzi and Anthony Mantha were sizzling in the final 25 or 30 games, with Bertuzzi posting four consecutive three-point games inside that stretch. Add Andreas Athanasiou posting improving quarters last year (12 points, 13, 14, and 15 in that order) and suddenly the Wings have a great young top line and a bit of secondary scoring. Between Hronek, Cholowski and possibly Kaski, and the roster is starting to shape up. The prospects in the pipeline are sensational: from Joe Veleno, to Zadina, to Jonatan Berggren, to Jared McIsaac to Moritz Seider the team is just two or three years away from something special. For this year, however, I see just two players topping 55 points, and goaltending is still on the weak side.
Fantasy Grade: C+ (last year was D+)
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2019 Offseason Fantasy Hockey Grades
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- Ramblings: Byfuglien's future; training camp notes; peripheral players - September 19
- Dobber's Offseason Fantasy Grades 2019: Winnipeg Jets (and Final Team Rankings)
- Dobber's Offseason Fantasy Grades 2019: Vegas Golden Knights
- Fantasy Poll: Even-Strength Duos
- Dobber's Offseason Fantasy Grades 2019: Washington Capitals
- Ramblings: Chabot Signing, Montour Injury, Defense Groups (Sept 20)
- Capped: Team by team buy and sell, part 7