This feature will take a look at three questions facing The Red Wings in the season ahead.
1) How will the Red Wings replace recently retired Brian Rafalski, especially on the power play?
Good question. The Red Wings will undoubtedly miss the Dearborn-native Rafalski, who captained the Red Wings power play with precision and calmness matched only by his counterpart, Nicklas Lidstrom. The Red Wings signed both Ian White
and Mike Commodore
to help bolster their blue line, but neither of these players has even 30 career power play points. Instead, it looks like it will be a power play by committee this season, with Stuart, Kronwall and White rotating to support Lidstrom. Coach Mike Babcock has experimented with forwards on the blue line before, and you have to wonder if his deep forward group may be able to ease the pain of losing Rafalski.
2) What can we expect from Jiri Hudler after last season’s performance?
There’s no denying it, last season was a bit of an embarrassment for Hudler. After a productive year away from the NHL (Hudler scored a point a game in the Russian KHL), he got off to a terribly slow start for the Wings. After rebounding in February (14 points in 14 games), Hudler drew boos from Red Wings fans during the playoffs, being held shotless and a -3 in his final three games.
That being said, it seems the fans may have jumped ship on Hudler a little early. How quickly they forget this is the same player who scored a combined 26 points in the 2008
playoff runs. He’s scored 20+ goals in this league and is a career +26 player. At a salary of $2.8 million dollars a year, Wings GM Ken Holland has nothing to apologize for.
We did not see much of Hudler this preseason, registering one goal in four games. Let’s hope he can bounce back with 40 points this season–a good number which could come from the power play.
3) Which of the newest Wings will have the biggest impact?
Tough call here. There are plenty of candidates to choose from this season, with the influx of young talent to Detroit. My money is on Ian White, who I think could quickly become a fan favorite in Detroit. White is a perfect fit for this team, and should enjoy some extended minutes on the power play with partner Nicklas Lidstrom. White is a smart player, and although undersized can deliver big hits
on unsuspecting forwards. White will give the Red Wings twenty steady minutes a night, and should provide highlights on both ends of the ice.