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Team Reset

Red Wings believe pieces in place for return to playoffs

Athanasiou, Larkin, Mantha must take next step; Daley, Witkowski added to roster

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

After the NHL Draft, free agency and other offseason moves, NHL.com is taking a look at where each team stands. Today, the Detroit Red Wings:

The Detroit Red Wings have not gone into a full rebuild while building a new rink.

 

[RELATED: Complete Team Reset coverage]

 

Their goal is to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs in their first season at Little Caesars Arena while laying the foundation for future Cup contention, after missing the playoffs for the first time since 1989-90 in their final season at Joe Louis Arena.

They signed defensemen Trevor Daley and Luke Witkowski in free agency, but mostly they're counting on young forwards Andreas Athanasiou, Dylan Larkin and Anthony Mantha to take the next step, and veterans like goaltender Petr Mrazek and forwards Justin Abdelkader and Riley Sheahan to rebound from poor seasons.

Here is what the Red Wings look like today:

 

Key arrivals

Trevor Daley, D: The 33-year-old signed a three-year contract with a reported average annual value of $3.178 million on July 1. Daley is coming off back-to-back championships with the Pittsburgh Penguins. He can play top-four minutes, and his skill and skating ability will be key for a team that spent too much time in the defensive zone last season. … Luke Witkowski, D: The Holland, Michigan, native signed a two-year contract with a reported average annual value of $750,000 on July 1. He fills the gritty depth role left open when Steve Ott was traded to the Montreal Canadiens on Feb. 28. He is a defenseman but played right wing at times in 54 games over three seasons for the Tampa Bay Lightning. The 27-year-old played for Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill at Western Michigan University in 2010-11.

Video: OTT@PIT, Gm5: Daley nets PPG on blistering slap shot

 

Key departures

None

 

On the cusp

Tyler Bertuzzi, F: Expect Bertuzzi to bring grit and skill to the fourth line after winning the Jack A. Butterfield Trophy as most valuable player of the Calder Cup Playoffs last season. The 22-year-old, selected in the second round (No. 58) of the 2013 NHL Draft, had 19 points (nine goals, 10 assists) in 19 games during Grand Rapids' run to the American Hockey League championship. He had three shots on goal in seven games with the Red Wings in November. … Evgeny Svechnikov, F: The 20-year-old likely will start the season in the AHL but could get some NHL time this season. The 19th pick of the 2015 NHL Draft, Svechnikov had 51 points (20 goals, 31 assists) in 74 games for Grand Rapids last season, his first as a professional. He also played his first two NHL games in April. … Filip Hronek, D: The 19-year-old, a second-round pick (No. 53) in the 2016 NHL Draft, is headed to Grand Rapids for his first full pro season. He had 61 points (14 goals, 47 assists) in 59 games for Saginaw of the Ontario Hockey League last season and looked good in 10 regular-season and two playoff games for Grand Rapids. Skilled and competitive, he needs to fill out (6-foot, 163 pounds) and gain experience.

 

What they still need

Superstars. The Red Wings won the Stanley Cup in 1997, 1998 and 2002 with defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom, forwards Sergei Fedorov and Steve Yzerman, and more. They won the Cup again in 2008 and came within a win of repeating in 2009 largely because they still had Lidstrom and had unearthed forwards Pavel Datsyuk (No. 171, 1998) and Henrik Zetterberg (No. 210, 1999) late in the draft. Now Zetterberg is the only one left, and he turns 37 on Oct. 9. The 25-season playoff streak was incredible but came at a cost: no top-10 picks for a quarter-century. Can Athanasiou, Larkin or Mantha reach that level? Or prospects like center Michael Rasmussen, the No. 9 pick of the 2017 NHL Draft, the Red Wings' first top-10 pick since forward Martin Lapointe in 1991? They need difference-makers to contend for the Cup again.

 

Pete Jensen's fantasy focus

The Red Wings used a rotation of mostly experienced forwards like Zetterberg, Abdelkader, Frans Nielsen, Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Tatar and Thomas Vanek on their first power-play unit with defenseman Mike Green last season. Considering Mantha's even-strength success (33 even-strength points in 60 games), he warrants more usage on the top power play this season. Mantha has a chance to play alongside Zetterberg in all situations and is a fantasy breakout candidate likely attainable outside the top 150.

Video: TOR@DET: Nyquist beats Andersen with top-shelf snipe

 

Projected lineup

Tomas Tatar -- Henrik Zetterberg -- Gustav Nyquist

Justin Abdelkader -- Dylan Larkin -- Anthony Mantha

Andreas Athanasiou -- Frans Nielsen -- Darren Helm

Tyler Bertuzzi -- Luke Glendening -- Riley Sheahan

Danny DeKeyser -- Trevor Daley

Niklas Kronwall -- Mike Green

Jonathan Ericsson -- Nick Jensen

Jimmy Howard

Petr Mrazek

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