The playoff streak of 25 years came to a sudden halt this season when the Detroit Red Wings finished with just 76 points, their fewest win total over an 82-game slate since the 1990-91 season, the first year of the playoff streak.
There is a lot of blame to throw around but who deserves most of it? The coaches? Players? Or the upper-management? Here are the final grades for the 2016-2017 Detroit Red Wings. Hint: Many failed this season.
1. HENRIK ZETTERBERG
Jan 10, 2017; Chicago, IL, USA; Detroit Red Wings left wing Henrik Zetterberg (40) warms up prior to a game against the Chicago Blackhawks at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
Many thought Zetterberg may have a down year this season as he is now on the back end of his career. He proved us wrong and led the Wings in points with 68 (17 goals, 51 assists).
On a team that was -37 in goal differential, Zetterberg had a plus/minus rating of +15. He created plays and made whoever was on his line better. Hopefully, he can continue what he did this season to next year.
2. TOMAS TATAR
Tomas Tatar led the Detroit Red Wings in scoring this season with 25 goals. In fact, he was the only Wing to reach the 20-goal plateau this season.
Tatar is now a restricted free agent that the Wings must keep on their roster. He got off to a very slow start this season scoring only three goals in the first 26 games. Tatar then picked it up from there scoring 21 goals over the last 56 games. He also added 21 assists to finish with 46 points, good for third on the team
Detroit will have to pay him to keep him. Since he is a restricted free agent, Detroit can match any offer another team throws at him.
3. DANNY DEKEYSER
The Red Wings had plenty of problems this season on defense and Danny Dekeyser didn’t help the cause.
Dekeyser seemed to take a step back this season adding only 12 points (four goals, eight assists) and finishing with a plus/minus rating of -22, third-worst mark on the team.
Danny is only 27 and still has room to improve. He needs to be better if he wants to remain on this team as a top-four defenseman.
4. DYLAN LARKIN
After setting a rather high standard for himself as a rookie, Dylan Larkin endured a bit of a sophomore slump this past season.
Larkin finished this year with 17 goals and a whopping 32 total points. He was a plus/minus of -28 which was second-worst on the team ahead of only Riley Sheahan, who we will get to shortly.
Larkin is very young and a huge part of the Red Wings future. He still has the potential to be a great player in the NHL.
5. RILEY SHEAHAN
Where do we start? How about the fact the Sheahan went 79 games without a goal this season.
He finally scored two goals in the final game of the season and will always be remembered as the last Red Wing to score at the Joe Louis Arena. He has the potential to score 10-15 goals a season, after potting 13 and 14 respectively the two years before. He ultimately finished with just 13 points this past season.
He also finished dead last on the team with a plus/minus rating of -29. Hopefully, he will be able to play with a chip on his shoulder next season and produce.
6. FRANS NIELSEN
In his first season as a Wing, Nielsen was very mediocre. He represented the Red Wings at the All-Star game this season, which was puzzling, to say the least.
Nielsen finished the season with 17 goals and 24 assists and a plus/minus rating of -19. He needs to produce more if the Wings plan to keep him as a second line center.
7. GUS NYQUIST
Gustav Nyquist is a player that has the potential to score 25-30 goals a season, after scoring 56 combined goals in 139 games from 2013-15. He failed to reach the 20-goal mark for a second straight season.
Nyquist finished the season with 12 goals and 36 assists. He was thought of as a power-play threat but scored only two of his 12 goals with the extra man. The Wings may need to put him on the trading block to see what they can get in return.
8. LUKE GLENDENING
Luke Glendening has the potential to register double-digit goals as a fourth-liner, but he too also failed to reach his potential this season.
Glendening only scored three goals and added 11 assists. He is an excellent penalty killer, but the Wings need more than that from him. Glendening finished with a plus/minus rating of -10. Hopefully, he can improve as well.
9. MIKE GREEN
Mike Green at times this season looked like he was Detroit’s best defenseman. Other times you had to ask yourself, “what was he thinking?”
Green was able to double his goal production from a year ago with 14 goals this season. Detroit signed him to be a defenseman that also had some offensive spark. He finished with 36 points and a plus/minus rating of -20.
Green still needs to work on his decision-making in the defensive zone.
10. XAVIER OUELLET
Ouellet played 66 games in his first full season in the NHL. He was one of the few Red Wings to finish with a positive plus/minus rating of +2.
He finished with three goals and 12 assists. If the Wings plan to keep him in the NHL, he could be a great defenseman to solidify the third pairing.
11. ANDREAS ATHANASIOU
Athanasiou is going to be a good player in the NHL. He uses his speed and puck handling abilities to create separation.
His first full season in the NHL looked promising. Athanasiou finished with 18 goals and 29 points. He still needs to work on the defensive side of his game and is a big key to the Red Wings future. He is a restricted free agent this offseason, and the Wings must re-sign him or match any offer thrown at him.
12. JUSTIN ABDELKADER
Justin Abdelkader had a disappointing season, to say the least, marred some due to injury. He missed 18 games this season with an MCL sprain.
He failed to score ten goals (seven) this year after scoring 19 last season and 23 the year before. He also finished with 14 assists and had a plus/minus rating of -20.
Simply put, he needs to bounce back in a hurry, especially after inking a seven-year contract extension prior to the start of this past season.
13. ANTHONY MANTHA
After starting the season in Grand Rapids, Mantha was called up and never sent back. And he finally showed us his potential.
In 60 games this season, Mantha scored 17 goals and added 19 assists. He had a plus/minus rating of +10 and scored some big goals late in games. Mantha at times showed greatness, but other times he lacked effort and was benched for it. He is another key part of the Red Wings future.
14. NIKLAS KRONWALL
Kronwall is on the back end of his career, and it’s starting to show. He dealt with a knee injury all season and missed a good majority of games because of it.
In 57 games this season, Kronwall scored just two goals, 11 assists and had a plus/minus rating of -7. He is 36 years old and may only have one or two more years left in the tank. The production will continue to diminish gradually but he will bring an experienced, veteran presence to some young Wings.
15. DREW MILLER
Miller at one point this season wanted to be traded. He was waived by Detroit earlier in the season and eventually made his way back to Detroit after the Wings made some moves at the trade deadline.
Miller scored five goals and added two assists in 55 games this season. He is a good fourth line player and a big asset on the penalty-kill. Miller knows his role and performs well more often than not when called upon.
16. JONATHAN ERICSSON
Jonathan Ericsson had an injury shortened season when he went down with a fractured wrist in early February.
Ericsson played 51 games scoring one goal and adding eight assists. He is one of a handful of players that team management may have to make a business decision with this offseason, as he is still under contract for the next three seasons.
17. DARREN HELM
Stop us if you’ve heard this before: Helm failed to stay healthy for an entire season. Once again he was plagued by the injury bug that caused him to miss 32 games.
In 50 games, Helm scored eight goals and nine assists for 17 points. He finished with a plus/minus rating of minus 6. Helm has the potential to score double-digit goals in a season, having done so in five of his seven full seasons as an NHL-er. Detroit will need a rebound from him as well
18. NICK JENSEN
Nick Jensen finally got his shot at the NHL this season. He is a good puck-moving defenseman that may have earned his spot on the Red Wings roster next season.
Jensen was called up from Grand Rapids played in 49 games. He scored four goals and added nine assists in his first year. He still has much to learn, but his future looks bright.
19. RYAN SPROUL
SprouL, another young defenseman the Wings got a good look at this year, showed Detroit fans his promise and upside in pockets.
In 27 games, Sproul scored one goal and added six assists. He is still very young at 24 and has time to develop his game. He had a plus/minus rating of -8 and will be in the competition to start for next season.
20. ROBBIE RUSSO
Russo only played 19 games for the Wings this season, but it was his first shot at the NHL level.
Russo didn’t produce any points, but he did finish with a plus/minus rating of +2. At times he played solid defense when he needed to. He too will be competing for a roster spot next season.
21. JIMMY HOWARD
Howard got off to a promising start this season before he was injured and missed a good portion of the season.
22. PETR MRAZEK
Mrazek was very inconsistent this season once again. He showed greatness and would then follow that up with a lackluster performance.
In 50 games this season, Mrazek recorded a 3.04 GAA and a .901 Sv%. That is not good enough if he wants to be considered a starting goalie in the NHL. He gave up a lot of “soft” goals this season as well.
23. COACHING STAFF
In Jeff Blashill’s second season as the Detroit Red Wings head coach, he made some questionable calls at times. He never sat Riley Sheahan. Instead, he decided to bench Mantha and Athanasiou for “lack of effort.”
The young players are not developing under his leadership. If Detroit does not improve next year, he should be gone. Also, Detroit had one of the worst special teams this season, especially on the power-play. They ranked 27th out of 30 teams with a 15.1% with the extra man.