Anthony Mantha-Dylan Larkin-Filip Zadina
Andreas Athanasiou-Frans Nielsen-Michael Rasmussen
Gustav Nyquist-Darren Helm-Thomas Vanek
Tyler Bertuzzi-Luke Glendening-Justin Abdelkader
Extras: Martin Frk, Luke Witkowski
I didn’t include Henrik Zetterberg because some in the organization doubt he’ll return. But I don’t believe anyone knows for certain, maybe not even Zetterberg himself.
He won’t officially retire and stick the organization with a $4.3 million cap recapture penalty in each of the next three seasons. If he’s done because of his back – even though he’s played every game the past three seasons – they’ll put him on long-term injured reserve at the start of the season.
I think Zadina and Rasmussen will make the team, at least initially. In Rasmussen’s case the Red Wings will have nine games to assess whether he’s ready for the NHL or should return to his junior club, WHL Tri-City, without burning a year off his entry-level contract. Rasmussen can’t be assigned to Grand Rapids.
It appears the Red Wings will be able to freely move Zadina between Detroit and the Grand Rapids Griffins, if they choose, after the NHL ruled over the weekend that he was on loan to his junior club, Halifax, from his Czech League team, Pardubice, so he’s not bound by the NHL or CHL-only restriction.
Zadina and Rasmussen probably aren’t going to play on the same line, so I figure one will get Larkin as his center and the other Nielsen. The Nyquist-Helm-Vanek combination was the team’s best line at the start of 2016-17, before Vanek got injured.
If Zetterberg doesn’t return, the Red Wings will be thin at center. They would probably recall Dominic Turgeon from Grand Rapids if one of those centers is injured.
On defense, I think Filip Hronek will join a group that includes Mike Green, Danny DeKeyser, Jonathan Ericsson, Trevor Daley, Niklas Kronwall and Nick Jensen. I believe Grand Rapids defense will consist of Joe Hicketts, Dennis Cholowski, Libor Sulak, Vili Saarijarvi, Dylan McIlrath, Brian Lashoff and Jake Chelios.
Up front, the Griffins will have Matt Puempel (a restricted free agent), Evgeny Svechnikov, Dominic Turgeon, Matthew Ford, Axel Holmstrom, Dylan Sadowy, Turner Elson and Dominik Shine from last season. They’re bringing in draft picks David Pope, Givani Smith and Christoffer Ehn and signed free agents Chris Terry, Wade Megan and Carter Camper.
Grand Rapids will have two new goaltenders in Harri Sateri and Patrik Rybar. They must decide whether to send Kaden Fulcher back to Hamilton for his overage junior year or have him go back and forth between Toledo (ECHL) and Grand Rapids as needed.