What's next for Detroit Red Wings with Henrik Zetterberg retiring?September 14, 2018
Helene St. James
Detroit Free Press
Published 11:00 AM EDT Sep 14, 2018
TRAVERSE CITY — What’s next for the Detroit Red Wings now that Henrik Zetterberg’s career is over?
He is their captain, one of their leading scorers and an immeasurable role model in the locker room.
As far as the ‘C,’ goes, the Wings are expected to go with three alternate captains for a stretch, with a new player joining Justin Abdelkader and Niklas Kronwall in wearing an “A.” Frans Nielsen is the leading candidate – he was an alternate captain with the New York Islanders, and possesses the same kind of quiet leadership quality as Zetterberg. Like Zetterberg, Nielsen does everything right on and off the ice.
More: A ‘C’ change in store for Red Wings: Here are six options
“I’ve talked to Jeff Blashill a little bit about it,” general manager Ken Holland said. “We’re going to go through training camp and we will make the decision as to what we do in terms of letters before the season starts.
“I’m not sure if we will have a captain or go with all assistants. We’re going to make that decision over the next three weeks.”
Dylan Larkin is also a possibility, though the team may be shy about putting such responsibility on a 22-year-old. When things get rough – and it’s likely to be another rough season and playoff miss for the Wings – it’s on the leaders to be front and center talking to reporters. With Kronwall entering the last year of his contract, it’s more likely the Wings make Larkin an alternate in 2019-20.
Larkin and Nielsen will center the top two lines, and Nielsen could take over Zetterberg’s role on one of the power play units – again, Nielsen was a power play regular in New York. Andreas Athanasiou would be a logical choice to center the third line. Newcomers such as Michael Rasmussen and Filip Zadina could provide offensive boosts.
There are three years left on the front-loaded 12-year, $73 million contract extension Zetterberg signed in January of 2009, but the Wings can place Zetterberg on long-term injured reserve and gain salary cap relief from his $6.1 million annual cap hit.
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