by Chris Zadorozny (@Zads07)
For the first time in two years, we’ll have hockey in October. After last year’s shortened NHL season, a full 82-game schedule is out, filled with outdoor games, the Winter Classic, and even a break in the action for the Sochi Olympics.
After last year’s disappointing Game 7 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks in overtime, the Detroit Red Wings are poised for a dramatic rebound in the Eastern Conference.
There are some question marks coming into the new season, but there are also some great new things that fans should be looking forward to.
Let’s recap the offseason first. In the early hours of the opening day of free agency, the Detroit Red Wings signed longtime Ottawa Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson to a 1-year deal worth $5.5 million. Later that day, they signed their second-line center, former Florida Panther Stephen Weiss to a 5-year deal, worth $24.5 million ($4.9/year).
Once Weiss signed, it was clear that forward Valtteri Filppula wasn’t going to come back, so he signed a similar deal with the Tampa Bay Lightning. Nearly 10 days later, the Red Wings re-signed defenseman Brendan Smith to a 2-year deal worth $2.525 million.
In August, the Red Wings locked up both Joakim Andersson to a 2-year deal worth $1.465 million and Gustav Nyquist to 2-year, 2-way deal. Finally, the last signing of the summer for the Wings was re-signing veteran forward Daniel Cleary to a one-year contract worth $1.75 million.
Oh, and we can’t forget about Swiss forward Damien Brunner who was up and down last year for the Wings. He signed a 2-year deal worth $5 million with the New Jersey Devils after he was invited to their camp on a tryout.
Also leaving the Wings was defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo who was bought out of his remaining year on his contract.
What’s the new lineup going to look like? Well, here’s what it will most likely look like to start the season. Once injuries subside in late-October to early-November, we could see even more changes.
Helm (LTIR), Eaves (LTIR), Tootoo, Gustavsson
Forward Darren Helm was placed on long-term injured reserve with complications with his back, so he’ll be out for a while. In fact, his career could be in jeopardy. Patrick Eaves is also on long-term injured reserve with a sprained knee. He’s expected to be out another three weeks. Jordin Tootoo (shoulder) and Jonas Gustavsson (groin) are all on short-term injured reserve.
For those of you wondering where Gutsav Nyquist is, he’s back with the Grand Rapids Griffins. He was sent down because he signed a two-way deal, which means he can be sent down to the minors without being exposed on waivers.
There are some new roster changes for the Red Wings this year. Moving to the Eastern Conference will definitely help as the Wings prepare for their stretch run at the end of the season.
The less travel to the west could result in a few more wins, and will work in their favor with an older squad. What should fans expect though in the new Atlantic Division? New rivalries with the Bruins, Maple Leafs, Canadiens, and Senators will eventually overtake the rivalry with the Blackhawks and Avalanche of the old days.
As the Wings look to open up the season at home against the Sabres, fans will get their first glimpse of the new Detroit Red Wings, the new Eastern Conference, and the renewed expectations of competing for yet another Stanley Cup.
To read the original post that appeared on Sports Radio Detroit, on October 2, 2013, go to www.sportsradiodetroit.com