Many NHL writers believe the addition of Daniel Alfredsson (left) will help the Red Wings as they move to the Eastern Conference. (David Guralnick / Detroit News)
NHL writers weigh in on what they expect from the Red Wings this season:
Bucky Gleason, Buffalo News: The Red Wings’ move to a new division will ease travel, but it doesn’t make life much easier. There’s still enough left in their aging legs to contend for a division title but only if Jimmy Howard plays to his potential.
Pat Hickey, Montreal Gazette: The Red Wings don’t seem to mind adding another old guy and addition of Daniel Alfredsson is a plus as is the acquisition of Stephen Weiss. Boston, Detroit and Ottawa should be the teams to beat for the automatic berths in the Atlantic Division.
Chris Kuc, Chicago Tribune: Western Conference teams won’t be sad to see the Red Wings go as Detroit appears to have a Stanley Cup-caliber team and should challenge for supremacy in the East. Detroit has the experience, firepower and defensive capability to make a deep run in the playoffs. Expect the Wings to finish a close third to the Penguins and Bruins in the Eastern Conference.
Aaron Portzline, Columbus Dispatch: The move East will be a boon for the Red Wings. The big-time offensive players — (Pavel) Datsyuk and (Henrik) Zetterberg — should thrive in a conference that doesn’t defend nearly as physically as the West. Expect to see them and Boston battling for No. 1 in the Atlantic.
Jim Matheson, Edmonton Journal: Red Wings will fly high in the East and they’ll win their division with strong second-line center work from (Stephen) Weiss and one last hurrah from Alfie (Daniel Alfredsson) playing with all the other Swedes.
Joe Haggerty, Comcast SportsNet New England: While it’s been a few years since the Red Wings have been in the Cup Final and guys like Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg have a few more gray hairs than they used to, Detroit should still be formidable in the new Atlantic Division. The Bruins look to be the class of the group, but it’s conceivable the Wings could finish as high as second in a tight race with a young, obscenely talented Ottawa Senators group. Jimmy Howard will fit right into a goaltending-rich division, and Detroit’s style of play will actually be a much better fit with wide-open teams like Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal and Tampa Bay all around them.
Frank Seravalli, Philadelphia Daily News: The Red Wings have made the playoffs every year since playing in the West (1991, actually) and now the road just got a little easier. That’s a scary proposition for one of professional sports’ most consistent franchises. Plus, after taking the Blackhawks to seven games last year, they’ve added Daniel Alfredsson and Stephen Weiss. Jimmy Howard will bounce back after a so-so preseason.
Rob Rossi, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: Under any other circumstances, the Red Wings’ move to the Eastern Conference would prove unquestionably beneficial. However, they are jumping into an Atlantic Division that may very well be the best in the NHL given the anticipated strength of Boston and Ottawa. Still, these are the Red Wings — a model organization — and they will be no worse than third in the Atlantic Division, and probably a nightmare first-round opponent for either Boston or Ottawa.
Michael Russo, Minneapolis Star Tribune: The Red Wings flourish in the East. After covering Stephen Weiss in Florida, I’ve got immense respect for his all-around game and we all know how good (Daniel Alfredsson) is. Most of all, Jimmy Howard’s turned me into a believer.
Damian Cristodero, St. Petersburg Times: The Red Wings have skill, are hungry and have a terrific coach. If they stay healthy, they should be a force in the East.
Mike Zeisberger, Toronto Sun: Observers might consider the greybeard Wings to be long in the tooth, but don’t count out the opportunity for Mike Babcock’s gang to be beasts of the East. No longer will Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk and Co. need to deal with so much gruelling travel now that they are in the Eastern Conference, where they belong. The additions of Daniel Alfredsson and Stephen Weiss should address the need for secondary scoring. A playoff berth — and potentially deep postseason run — are obtainable goals.