Today, our staff answers the question: What’s your boldest prediction for 2016-17?
My bold prediction is that the Wings goaltending as a unit will not be very good at all, and this will be extremely detrimental to their season (and prospective playoff chances).
Much has been said about Petr Mrazek, and his ability to come into the season as a full time starter. There’s no reason to be negative about Mrazek as a capable #1 goalie. By every metric you could possibly find, he’s always been above league average and is completely suitable to shoulder the majority of the starts this upcoming year.
It’s not bold to say that Jimmy Howard has lost more than a few steps since his best days, and I don’t really see much reason to assume he’ll have magically recovered.
And if Mrazek plays anything short of .920 goaltending, the Wings could be in for a long year.
Mrazek playing “slightly above league average” maybe isn’t the worst thing in the world, but if Jimmy Howard plays just like he does for the past three years, the Wings will have a real hard time being competitive this season.
My bold prediction is that Ken Holland will not be the Wings GM going into the offseason. I could see one of two scenarios playing out. First, I feel like a reason that the Wings went all in with the veterans this offseason was because the organization wants to extend the streak in their last season at the Joe, so if they fall short, maybe we see Ken Holland get canned for not meeting the expectation, in addition to all of the previous mediocre seasons.
I could also see Holland stepping down after this season, because perhaps the organization wants to use the arena change as a transitional period, and leave Holland’s legacy with the Joe. The second is more likely than the first, especially because if they fire him, they’ll probably just refer to it as him stepping down, but it certainly would not surprise me to see this happen this season.
The Red Wings advance past the first round of the playoffs.
Jonathan Ericsson will miss substantial time due to this nagging hip injury and usher in a young defenceman who thrives in his new role and can activate the offence with his speed and skill just as Blashill has it drawn up. As Marchenko and DeKeyser handle more of the heavy lifting, Kronwall slides comfortably into the role he should have as a bottom pair defenceman on the team. Frans Nielsen finishes as the centre on the team with the most points and while the league focuses their attention on Larkin, Nielsen is left with easier assignments and thrives accordingly. Mrazek will end the year in conversation for the Vezna and lead them to a first round upset against the Florida Panthers, narrowly missing another first round matchup against the division clinching Tampa Bay Lightning. Pretty much as bold as it gets.
Brendan Smith will score 30 points.
Still, when Smith came back in the playoffs last season, he had a spark in his play. He wants to be a core part of this team pretty badly and I think he’ll come out playing like it this season. His play will be so good that he’ll slowly start to chip away at Kronwall and Ericsson’s minutes until he’s playing in the twenty minute range. Only one team defenseman cracked 30 points last season (Mike Green) and I think that Brendan Smith will join him this year.