July 24, 2014 at 7:47 pm

Red Wings forwards: Health should bring happiness to team, its fans

Click through the gallery above for Ted Kulfan’s player-by-player outlook on the Red Wings’ forwards. Go here if you are having trouble seeing the gallery. Coming Friday: Defensemen.

Detroit — If their forwards are healthy, the Red Wings should be fine.

But they weren’t healthy last season, and it nearly cost Detroit a spot in the playoffs.

Pavel Datsyuk only played in 45 regular-season games.

Henrik Zetterberg, likewise, played in 45 games, then played in only two of the five playoff games against Boston.

Daniel Alfredsson missed 14 regular-season games and two more in the playoffs.

Johan Franzen played in only 54 games, Darren Helm 42. Stephen Weiss, who was thought to be a key free-agent acquisition last summer, played in only 26 games.

“We need to get some of our guys healthy,” Red Wings general manager Ken Holland said. “We like our group, we like the depth we have. We just need a good summer (of getting healthy) and get to training camp.”

Veterans such as Datsyuk, Zetterberg, Franzen and Helm will ultimately have a big influence on the success of the Red Wings’ season. But how much further a batch of young forwards who got their first taste of the NHL last season progress — that also will be crucial.

Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Tatar, Riley Sheahan, Tomas Jurco and Luke Glendening all either made their NHL debuts — or earned their first consistent playing time — and all were impressive.

Nyquist (28 goals in 57 games) and Tatar (19 goals), in particular, showed glimpses of being dangerous offensive players.

“Our young players, they were really key in us making the playoffs last year and they’re a year older,” Holland said.

Two wild cards for the Red Wings are Daniel Alfredsson and Anthony Mantha — two players on opposite points of their respective careers.

Alfredsson, 41, will decide in late August whether to return for another season. Plagued by an aching back at points during the regular season and playoffs, Alfredsson will see whether he’s healthy enough to endure another season.

Mantha, 19, a 2013 first-round draft pick, scored 81 goals in 81 games last season (57 regular season, 24 playoffs) in junior hockey. The Red Wings will give Mantha an opportunity to win a spot on one of the top two lines, or send him to Grand Rapids for an introduction to pro hockey.