With apologies to the New Jersey Devils, the Detroit Red Wings represent the clearest facsimile of a NHL dynasty since the glory days of the Edmonton Oilers.  But things have plainly broken down this season.  With injuries piled up like rush-hour commuters in the season’s first snowstorm, the Red Wings are currently fighting for their playoff lives.  But now their injured players are returning, what will this mean for you?


Returning Wings

There are a variety of reasons why the Red Wings’ Hemi finally blew a gasket this season (the early goaltending and off-season loss of goal scoring talent to name but two), yet the chief factor may have been the succession of injuries that decimated the Wings’ dressing over the course the first few months of the season.


A turnaround may be in the works, as many of the Red Wings’ key individuals are now returning.  In case you’d lost track of the madness, here’s a run-down on the worst of Motown’s misfortunes this year.




Date Injured

Date of Return

Andreas Lilja

“headaches” (read: concussion)

September 14th

Conditioning in AHL now

Johan Franzen

torn ACL

October 8th

February 9th

Valtteri Filppula

broken wrist

October 30th

December 26th

Jason Williams

fractured right fibula

November 7th

January 29th

Niklas Kronwall

sprained left MCL

November 22nd

January 26th

Dan Cleary

separated shoulder

December 10th

January 17th

Jonathan Ericsson

left knee injury

December 15th

January 14th

Henrik Zetterberg

separated shoulder

December 17th

January 7th

Thomas Holmstrom

fractured left foot

January 7th

February 3rd


This list represents an extraordinary tally of lost talent, and with all these noteworthy injuries returning, a smart fantasy GM should detect a whiff of opportunity amidst the stench of splattered oil and burnt metal.


So what will represent the best opportunities for you?  There are two strategies to employ in order to make use of the Wings’ improving health.


You could go after formerly marquee players like Datsyuk (O-rank: 10th, current rank: 60th), Zetterberg (O-rank: 12th, current rank: 53rd), or Lidstrom (O-rank: 65th, current rank: 94th), all of whom are likely under-valued in your league due to their relatively sub-par performance.  This strategy is higher-risk since you will have to conduct a trade to get your hands on these players, but it is certainly higher-reward since these players will be the ones who have the highest fantasy impact.

A less risky strategy involves snapping up players like Cleary (O-rank: 148th, current rank: 255th), Kronwall (O-rank: 171st, current rank: 506th), or the Holmstrom (O-rank: 249th, current rank 216th) from the waiver wire.  These players are best used on your bench where you can take advantage of a hot streak or a favourable line combination, but with the exception of Kronwall on your blue-line (who is supposedly fine after “tweaking” his knee on Sunday against the Penguins), they won’t permanently dislodge the starters on your roster.


The most interesting pick-up to make might be the still-injured Franzen.  Owning an O-rank of 43, but only owned in 70% of the Yahoo leagues, he might be the best of both worlds, low-risk if you can get him off the wire, but very probably high-reward.  Franzen excels at late-season play, and will serve as a game-changing catalyst for the Wings.


A final note on the returning injuries – when Lilja and Franzen do return, the Wings will be over both the salary cap and the 23-man roster limit.  Some moves will have to be made.


Olympics Games to Rekindle or Douse Wings’ Playoff Flame?


The timing of their return to the line-up is fortunate for several of the Wings; seven are headed to the Olympics, including Lidstrom, Zetterberg, Holmstrom, and Kronwall for Sweden, Datsyuk for Russia, Filppula for Finland, while Brain Rafalski will suit up for the United States


Some might suggest that rest, rather than Olympic wreaths, would better help the Wings’ chances of making the playoffs.  Certainly, the last thing Hockeytown needs is another injury.


But the high-octane competition of the Olympics might serve as a mojo-boost for the Wings, particularly for the four Swedes who will benefit from wearing the Tre Kroner together.


Additionally, Nicholas Chabot has discovered something interesting when it comes to Red Wings’ captain in particular.  With his sharp statistical scalpel, Chabot illustrated in the February 1st issue of The Hockey News that Lidstrom (who happens to be on a nice little scoring streak at the moment) increased his points-per-game significantly after participating in both the 2002 and the 2006 Winter Olympics.  In 2002, he displayed an extraordinary 0.54 point-per-game increase, while after the Turin tournament he enjoyed a still-impressive 0.24 per game increase.


So by no means is it a certainty that the relatively heavy Olympic participation is going to burnout the Wings. Combined with their bevy of returning players, it might represent the turning point of their season.


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Comments (4)add comment

Brent K. Lemon said:

Re: How about Howard??? It's a good question, Oiler rock 99, and while I typically try to leave goalie commentary to Justin Goldman, I think I'm not alone in thinking that Howard has come a long way this season, but that the playoffs certainly will impact the Wings' plans for next year.

If you haven't already, check out Goldman's article, Men with Mystery, for more details on Howard.

February 03, 2010
Votes: +0

Oilers rock 99 said:

Oilers rock 99
How about Howard??? good artical but the biggest un known is the long term stability in goal do the wings love howard or are they looking??? and what for next year??
February 03, 2010
Votes: -1

sentium said:

... Minor typo. It's Tre Kronor, not Tre Kroner smilies/smiley.gif
February 03, 2010
Votes: +0

DonCoburleone said:

Wings Back I think their turnaround has already begun. They now have 5 points in their last 3 games. And last night was impressive, after San Jose went up 2-0 Detroit just took the game completely over (granted San Jose didn't have Boyle or Vlasic but still). Datsyuk and Lidstrom look better than they have all year and Zetterberg finally looks completely healthy from his seperated shoulder...

All I gotta say is the big guns in the west (mainly Chicago, San Jose & Vancouver) better hope they don't have to face a #6, 7 or 8 seeded Red Wings team in the first round (especially San Jose and their fragile psyche).
February 03, 2010 | url
Votes: +0
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