Here’s a midseason report on the Detroit Red Wings, who are 10-28-3 halfway through their 82-game season.
►Tyler Bertuzzi: Playing primarily on a line with Dylan Larkin and Anthony Mantha, Bertuzzi has taken advantage of his opportunity. Is he the most talented player on the team? No. But few players get more out of their skill set, or can do more things to somehow put the puck in the net.
►Filip Hronek: On a better team Hronek might be playing regularly on the second or third defensive pairing and easing his way into the NHL. But with this roster, Hronek has been thrust into larger responsibilities and hasn’t been overwhelmed. He seems to love the challenge.
►The future: At this point, all Wings fans can hope for is a better future. There are some pieces the organization can build around (Hronek, Filip Zadina, Larkin, Bertuzzi, Mantha) and now it’s a matter of developing the other prospects – and accumulating more of them.
►Key injuries: The lack of talent on this roster is a big cause for the record, but injuries to Danny DeKeyser, Anthony Mantha, Luke Glendening, Trevor Daley and Justin Abdelkader haven’t helped. This roster simply can’t overcome losing experienced veteran players like that, especially Mantha and his offensive ability.
►Not enough depth: On most nights there have been 7-9 players on the Wings’ roster who you could argue might be on another NHL’s team minor league roster. The Wings are stuck smack in the middle of a rebuild, transitioning to a completely reworked roster, and you’re seeing the effects of that.
►Lack of offense: A team has to score goals to stay competitive and relevant in today’s mainly wide-open NHL. The Wings – especially when Mantha has been out of the lineup – have a feeble offensive attack. They’re last in the NHL in goals (89), goals per game (2.17), have the 25th power play (15.9 percent) and generated the fewest shots (28.3).
►Tyler Bertuzzi: He’s the team’s All-Star Game representative, and it is much deserved. Bertuzzi leads the team in goals (15) and assists (16), and continues to play with an edge that not enough players on this roster have.
►Robby Fabbri: Acquired for Jacob de la Rose earlier this season, Fabbri has contributed 10 goals and looks like a player who can continue to make a positive impact. He has a great feel for the game offensively.
Three reasons to be optimistic
►Filip Zadina: Is he completely there yet as a night-in, night-out dangerous offensive star? Not at all. But as the games at this level build up, you’re seeing glimpses of what Zadina can be, why he was so highly rated, and why he could be a significant building block for the future.
►Young players’ development: Players like Zadina, Filip Hronek, possibly Moritz Seider later in the season, can get valuable NHL experience, which will accelerate the process.
►Good draft odds: The Wings are likely to have the worst record in the NHL, which will guarantee them the best odds to land the overall pick. No organization needs a franchise player as much as Detroit.
Three reasons to be pessimistic
►Veterans have failed: The Wings were hoping to squeeze out one more season out of older, experienced players like Trevor Daley, Jonathan Ericsson, Mike Green, Jimmy Howard and Frans Nielsen, but they’ve all had disappointing seasons, contributing to a rough first half for the team.
►Don’t look at the standings: The Wings are so far from the playoffs they’re not even remotely in the conversation. The scary thing is how much work there is remaining for the Wings to be competitive again, given the depth of talent of their division rivals. There’s a long way to go.
►Past draft lottery history: Sure the Red Wings may have the best odds, but often times, the team with the best odds doesn’t land the No. 1 pick. And the last few seasons, the Wings have actually slipped a couple spots in the lottery. It would be another gut punch if that were to happen.
►Jimmy Howard: The Wings are more likely to go outside the organization and sign a free agent for next season rather than re-sign Howard, given the way he’s played this season.
►Trevor Daley/Mike Green/Jonathan Ericsson: These three defensemen have logged a lot of games in the NHL, but all are on the final years of their contract and aren’t likely to be re-signed. Injuries have devastated them the last couple seasons.
►The coaching staff: Coach Jeff Blashill and his assistants can only work with whom they have at their disposal. And this isn’t a competitive NHL roster most nights. The Wings have had persistent struggles on the power play, penalty kill and team defense, plus Blashill wasn’t hired by new general manager Steve Yzerman, which makes you wonder if Yzerman has a different plan going forward.