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Examining the Detroit Red Wings forwards

by Evan Grossman

Complete Red Wings Analysis:
Intro | Goalies | Defense | Forwards
Feature | Numbers | Sked | Roster

Lining Up

There might not be a more dynamic trio in hockey right now than the line of Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg and Tomas Holmstrom that the Red Wings iced last season. In that trio, you get a little bit of everything with Zetterberg a two-way force, Datsyuk the gifted playmaker coming off consecutive 80-point seasons, and Holmstrom, the immovable object from in front of the net that gives the unit added grit. Datsyuk erased doubts about his playoff production with eight goals in the tournament last spring, while Zetterberg, capable of shutting down the enemy’s top guns, scored 10 game-winning goals.

Kris Draper and Kirk Maltby have been in Detroit as long as the auto industry and they will again be counted on as the team’s primary checking duo. Dallas Drake, 38, joins the mix this season for a second tour with Detroit, the team that drafted him in 1989.

Don’t forget about Dan Cleary, who scored 20 goals and 40 points last season, or the versatile Johan Franzen, 27, who continues to develop into a solid two-way presence.

Feeling Special

There’s no secret what the Wings are going to do on the man advantage. Holmstrom is going to set up in front, where he chipped in 13 power-play goals last season, Datsyuk is going to set everyone up (he also had five PPG last season), and Zetterberg is going to own the wall after scoring 11 extra-man goals last year.

The Red Wings were deadly in the playoffs on the power play and going into this season, putting them a man up continues to be a risky proposition for penalty-prone opponents.

Up and Coming

Tomas Kopecky  -- The 25-year-old Czech was drafted in the second round in 2000 has plenty of potential and has been praised for his ability at both ends of the ice. Was limited to a total of 26 NHL games last season because of a collarbone injury, but two years ago, he scored 32 goals for Grand Rapids. At 6-foot-3, he’s got good size and could eventually replace one of the veteran Detroit checking line players.

Darren Helm  -- The 20-year-old can play either center or wing. … drafted in the fifth round in 2005. … played the last three seasons with Medicine Hat, where he scored 41 goals and 79 points in 70 games two years ago. His point production was down last season to 64 points, but he finished the year an impressive plus-32.

Evan McGrath  -- A fourth-round pick in 2004, the 21-year-old split last season between the East Coast League and Grand Rapids of the AHL. Held scoreless in seven playoff games with Grand Rapids last spring.

X Factor

Igor Grigorenko --  The 24-year-old is expected to make his North American debut this season after recovering from a near-fatal car crash in 2003. An unproven rookie, he’s got the potential to find a home on one of Detroit’s top two lines and has the potential to post tremendous numbers in his freshman season. Originally drafted in the second round of the 2001 Draft, his arrival has been highly anticipated in Hockeytown. Like any unproven player, you just don’t know what you’re going to get out of the kid. But with an upside that’s sky high, according to scouts, he’s someone that could make what is an already dangerous Detroit attack to one that’s downright dominant.

Ken Holland
Red Wings general manager Ken Holland (above) on Igor Grigorenko, who is attempting a comeback this fall:

"Unfortunately, shortly after the World Championships in May of that year, again, I think it was '03 now, he had a very serious car accident. He was in the hospital for an entire year, very close to death. Basically missed two years of hockey. As a prospect, he had tremendous hockey sense, ability to score. He liked to drive to the net. Skating needed to improve."

1. Detroit forwards had the best faceoff percentage of all 30 NHL teams, winning an NHL-best 53.6 percent of their draws in 2006-07.

2. Tomas Holmstrom’s 30 goals were a career high, as were the 13 he scored on the power play.

3. With only 20 penalty minutes last year, center Pavel Datsyuk won the Lady Byng Trophy for gentlemanly play for the second-straight year.'s 2007-08 Red Wings Season Preview Package:
Intro | Goalies | Defense | Forwards | Feature | Numbers | Sked | Roster
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