The offseason evaluation of the Detroit Red Wings continues as the playoffs get thinner and the summer gets closer. Today I will continue with an outline of where the Red Wings second line had its successes, failures, and overall contributions to the team in 2013-14. You can click here to look back at my first line evaluation. Without further ado, let’s continue:
Detroit Red Wings Second Line
Johan Franzen: Right/Left Wing
Another player, another decent amount of mangames lost.
Simply put, it was another tough, hot and cold season for the Mule. Having a combination of groin injuries and a concussion that put him out for weeks (thanks Radko Gudas), Franzen was only available for 54 games in 2013-14 (SIA Profile). In those 54, he put up 16 goals and 25 assists for 41 points. Not a bad season for that amount of games played, but by Franzen’s standards it was poor. Many Wings fans, myself included, have criticized Franzen for his lack of intensity game-in and game-out.
Formerly a big-time playoff performer, his lack of intensity has leaked into the postseason as well. He has 12 playoff points in the last four playoff appearances by Detroit. His first five post-seasons? 69 points. The Wings haven’t gotten far in the last four years, only going as deep as the second round, but nonetheless his play has lacked.
However, in my opinion, he still has the strength and ability to score 40 goals when healthy. This is a popular opinion for the Swedish forward and has been ever since he really came into his own a few years ago. This depends on his attitude and intensity, which have been lacking for the better part of his career with the Red Wings.
Now, I’m not on the “buy out Mule” bandwagon like some fans are, and still think he has a good amount left to bring to the team. You take a look at Franzen’s contract, and the cap hit is a good $3.9 million and spans six years more years. Not a bad hit, but solid nonetheless. Ever since signing the 11 year, $43 million contract in the ’08 offseason, he’s topped 30 goals once(08-09), and 20 goals twice(10-11, 11-12). There was a lockout shortened season and injury shortened seasons thrown in but, bottom line, Franzen needs to step it up. Hot and cold has been his trademark, and he cannot live and die with a tale of two seasons each year. Coming up on a season where he will turn 35, time might be running out for Franzen to make a serious impact in Detroit. It starts with a comeback season in 2014-15.
Final grade: C-
Stephen Weiss: Center
Oh, where do we begin.
The latter of the July acquisitions for the Red Wings was supposed to fill Valterri Filppula’s spot at center and carried a solid pedigree from the Florida Panthers.
He was anything but a solid pick-up.
Limited to 26 games on the year with multiple injuries, Weiss was mostly a nobody in Detroit (SIA Profile) He finished with four points in those 26 games while Filppula lit it up in Tampa. He had one highlight as a Wing this year, and it was not even four games into the season. He scored an overtime winner against the Carolina Hurricanes for one of his two goals in a tumultuous season. However, not all is lost.
Weiss was injured coming into the season, and we did not get to see his full 100% potential. He was on target to come back after the Olympic break after being out since November with sports hernia surgery but that deadline was not met, as were the deadlines that were set near the end of the season for his return. He was eventually declared out for the season and is already being called a bust. Personally, I think the complete opposite. It was one tough year out of the five he’s signed for, and I’m high on him to come back and light it up next season. X-factor for him? Health. If he has a “big summer” as coach Mike Babcock said, he would be a big candidate for Red Wings comeback player of the year. It all depends on that groin however.
Final Grade: D+ (Overall Signing and play on the ice, tough since disputed injury)
Gustav Nyquist: Left/Right Wing
Defenseman Niklas Kronwall said it best:
“He’s been our savior”
Gustav Nyquist was not up at the beginning of the year because of a washed up Dan Cleary and the Wings’ forward situation in a logjam.
Dan Cleary: 52 games played, four goals, four assists, -11.
Gustav Nyquist after his call-up: 57 games played, 28 goals, 20 assists, +16.
Yes, the youth movement is alive and well in Motown. After an assortment of injuries, Nyquist joined the big club in November and made an impact in the first 17 seconds. He scored and would add one more in a two-goal first game back. He would hit a cold spell, then go on one of the greatest stretches for a Red Wing youngster in history: 23 goals after January 20th to end the season, the most in the NHL.
Imagine where this team would have been had he started the season in Detroit. Fun to think about isn’t it?
All jokes aside, Nyquist will be a mainstay for this Red Wing team and symbolize the youth movement for years alongside fellow rookies Tomas Jurco, Tomas Tatar, and Riley Sheahan, among others.
All in all, a top six spot looks like a sure thing in the near future for Nyquist as well as for his future and present rookie teammates currently filtering through the system.
Final Grade: A+
Next up, the bottom six.
For the latest sports injury news, check out our friends at Sports Injury Alert.
Thank you for reading. Please take a moment to follow me on Twitter – @gSchroedes16. Griffin Schroeder also writes at thewingedwheel.wordpress.com. Support LWOS by following us on Twitter – @LastWordOnSport – and “liking” our Facebook page.
Stats courtesy of Detroitredwings.com
Contract status courtesy of capgeek.com