New building, same result for the 2017-18 Detroit Red Wings. After falling to the basement of the NHL the previous two seasons, the Red Wings were hopeful that they could turn things around in the confines of their brand spanking new building Little Caesar’s Arena. Unfortunately, the team continued to flounder, finishing in the bottom five of the league once again and securing themselves a lottery selection in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft.
While the selections of snipers Filip Zadina and Joe Veleno in said draft should help the team in years to come, things still look bleak for the 2018-19 Red Wings. Youngsters like Dylan Larkin, Anthony Mantha and Andreas Athanasiou all took big steps last season and will be expected to do even more next season. Rookies like Zadina, Veleno and 2017 draft choice Michael Rasmussen will all be given opportunities to crack the roster, as well. Whether or not they’re able to step in and contribute however, remains to be seen.
Indeed there’s a lot of uncertainty in Detroit moving forward, but perhaps the team’s biggest question mark is the one surrounding captain Henrik Zetterberg and his future. The 37 year old Zetterberg has still yet to indicate to the team or fans whether or not he’ll be returning for a 16th NHL season.
Zetterberg still has three years left on a monster 12 year, $73 million contract that he signed back in 2009. His cap hit for the deal is just north of $6 million, but his actual salary is just shy of half that at $3.35 million. In 2019-20 and 2020-21, he’ll earn just $1 million. With nearly $70 million already in his back pocket, who could blame Zetterberg if he decided to call it quits early? Then again, he was second on the Wings in scoring last season with a respectable 11 goals and 56 points in 82 games. The old guy can still play.
Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press points out that Zetterberg may be delaying any decision due to a back issue that he fought through last season.
If Henrik Zetterberg is able to play next season (there is concern because of his back ) I doubt he falls out of the top six. He’s still one of the smartest players on the team. He’s wily. He’s patient. He was second on the team with 56 points, and first with 18 power-play points.
In the meantime, Wings fans will have to be patient in awaiting a decision from their captain. If nothing else a legend like Zetterberg has certainly earned the opportunity to take his time and make a well rationalized decision.