Saturday, August 28, 2010

X-Factors: Three Wings who Need to Make a Difference

From the iPod:

I've been thinking more on the upcoming season as it inches closer, and one thing I've been dwelling on is asking myself who will step it up this season. Rather, my bigger question is about who NEEDS to step it up this season. There are players on the Wings roster who are playing well, but need to play great in order to put Detroit over the top this year. This was a question brought up previously in a round table discussion on 'The Obstructed View', and it was interesting to hear the opinions given on the topic. I've decided now, to help break that awkward silence that is the offseason by tossing up this article on who I feel needs to go from pony to stud for the Wings to get back to the top.

1.) Val Filppula - Flip has always been the 'right there' or 'on the cusp' forward for the Wings. His flashes of brilliance on the line with Hank and Bert were inspiring, if not all that consistent. Val should have a lot of good things going for him this season, and if he stays healthy I see no reason as to why he can't put up solid numbers this year. He missed some time last season, playing 55 of 82 regular season games, and got himself 11 goals and 24 assists.

My expectations for Valtteri: 20G and 30A for at least a 50pt season, if not more.

2.) Jiri Hudler - Here's a guy everyone thought of when he left, but nobody is thinking of now that he's returned. Huddles, along with Hoss and Sammy, didn't cripple Detroit offensively when he left, but we sure felt his absence when everyone else was down with injuries. After winning the arbitration case, Jiri knows he's making more than Kenny Holland felt he was worth, so now it's time for little Rex to show what he can really do and earn that $2.75M. As the second year on his contract is for $3M, I'm expecting Huds to put up at least 100pts over the next two seasons.

What I want for this is a 60/40 split, but I'm more prepared to see a 40/60 split or worse. I felt betrayed by Hudler when he left, I admit that. Because of this, I'm setting his bar high.

3.) Jonathan Ericsson - In my opinion, Ruslan Salei was brought for one simple reason: our young defensemen are not stepping it up. This is the year for Big E if ever there was one. He showed promise when he first hit the NHL scene, but In recent history, Jon has not been doing well. With the veterans lined up on the blueline, there's no lack of talent for the youngin's to learn from, but the younger D-men, Ericsson especially, just don't seem to be picking up the tricks of the trade. The Wings look much better and should be much healthier this year, but Big E and the rest of the young guard need to be able to come in and eat up minutes to keep the vets from getting overworked.

I have no expectations of Ericsson as far as offense, but I'm praying hard that he will put together a good season and be much more defensively aware. We dumped Lilja, we don't need anyone replacing him for the role of turnover machine.