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31 in 31

Three questions facing Detroit Red Wings

Scoring, lack of depth on defense among concerns

by Dave Hogg / NHL.com Correspondent

NHL.com is providing in-depth analysis for each of its 31 teams throughout August. Today, three questions facing the Detroit Red Wings.

After missing the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time in 25 seasons, the Detroit Red Wings face the challenge of their first rebuild since the 1980s. Because they are nearly $4 million over the $75 million NHL salary cap, according to CapFriendly.com, it won't be easy.

Here are three questions the Red Wings must answer:

 

1. Who will score?

The Red Wings were 26th in the NHL in goals per game (2.41) and 27th on the power play (15.1 percent) last season. Forward Tomas Tatar was the only player to score at least 20 goals (25). Forward Thomas Vanek was tied with Tatar and forwards Dylan Larkin and Justin Abdelkader for the Detroit lead in power-play goals (five) despite missing time because of injuries and being traded to the Florida Panthers on March 1.

The biggest question is Larkin, who had 32 points (17 goals, 15 assists) and a minus-28 rating in 80 games, a decline from his rookie season in 2015-16 when he had 45 points (23 goals, 22 assists) and was plus-11. Forward Andreas Athanasiou, whose 18 goals were second on the Red Wings, remains a restricted free agent.

Video: 31 in 31: Detroit Red Wings 2017-18 season preview

 

[RED WINGS 31 IN 31: Season preview | Top prospects |  Fantasy breakdown | Behind the numbers]

 

2. Who will be the No. 1 defense pair?

Mike Green and Danny DeKeyser are the projected first pair, but Green was minus-20 in 72 games, and DeKeyser (minus-22) took a step back last season. Although the Red Wings signed Trevor Daley, who turns 34 on Oct. 9, to a three-year contract reportedly worth $9.5 million July 1, depth is an issue. Knee injuries limited Niklas Kronwall, 36, to 57 games last season, and Jonathan Ericsson, 33, had surgery to repair a wrist injury that ended his season Feb. 9.

 

3. Where does goalie Petr Mrazek fit in?

Mrazek, 25, regressed last season and was left unprotected in the NHL Expansion Draft. His goals-against average climbed from 2.33 in 2015-16 to 3.04 and his save percentage dropped from .921 to .901.

Jimmy Howard, 33, likely will enter training camp as the starter, with Mrazek competing with Jared Coreau for the backup spot.

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