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31 in 31

Three questions facing Detroit Red Wings

Kronwall's status, addition of depth among areas of focus

by Nicholas J. Cotsonika @cotsonika / NHL.com Columnist

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

 

[Red Wings 31 IN 31: Season preview | Top prospects | Fantasy breakdown | Behind the numbers]

 

1. Will Niklas Kronwall retire?

The 38-year-old defenseman thought he would retire after last season, the final season of his contract. But after he played 79 games despite chronic problems with his left knee he left open the possibility of returning this season.

General manager Steve Yzerman said part of the reason the Red Wings signed Patrik Nemeth as a free agent July 1 was the uncertainty surrounding Kronwall. Younger defensemen including Filip Hronek, 21; Dennis Cholowski, 21; and Oliwer Kaski, who will turn 24 on Sept 4, are pushing for playing time.

Kronwall has played his entire 15-season NHL career with Detroit, which selected him with the No. 29 pick in the 2000 NHL Draft, and could continue to provide leadership and depth. Last season, veterans Trevor Daley, Danny DeKeyser, Mike Green and Jonathan Ericsson each missed time because of injury.

Video: 31 in 31: Detroit Red Wings 2019-20 season preview

 

2. Will they add any more players to their roster?

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

After the Red Wings signed 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."

 

3. Will Dylan Larkin be named captain? 

Detroit did not have a captain last season after forward Henrik Zetterberg announced before training camp he couldn't play anymore because of back problems. Larkin played a leading role as the No. 1 center and set NHL career highs in several categories, including goals (32) and points (73).

"I feel ready for it," Larkin told TSN on Aug. 6. "I think it's something that I can't focus on, I can't lose sleep about it, can't control it, I just try and be myself and play the game that I love and play with a lot of passion.

"It's something if it happens, it happens. If it doesn't, I still get to play for the Detroit Red Wings and I get to play in the NHL, and I'm going to try and play my best."

Video: Top 10 plays of 2018-19: Larkin

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