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Photo Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Red Wings opening night lineup prediction

We’ve made it! The preseason is now complete which means the regular season opener at Little Caesers Arena is right around the corner. The final roster cuts should be coming in the next day or two and the Red Wings will have to trim their current 38 man roster down to 23.

The controversy will certainly be centered around which prospects survive the final wave of cuts. Up-front Filip Zadina will be the most discussed after a somewhat disappointing preseason. On the back-end there are a few injuries that will open up some temporary spots to which four young defensemen are vying for.

There isn’t an exact science to this but hell. Here is my best guess for what we see could on October 4th versus the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Note: this isn’t meant to reflect what I would do. Rather what I believe management will decide.

Forwards

Bertuzzi – Larkin – Mantha

Rasmussen – Nielsen – Nyquist

Svechnikov – Athanasiou – Vanek

Abdelkader – Glendening – Helm

Witkowski

Don’t look to deep into the lines themselves – the famous Blashill blender should be in full force once again this year – but more so the players themselves. Evgeny Svechnikov over Filip Zadina is the not so hot, hot take. Svechnikov has played well in the exhibition games, notching two game-winning goals. Zadina has potted two goals as well but something has seemed off. Before you start overreacting there are some real positives to sending him down to start the season, both developmentally and organizationally.

Everything else should be pretty consensus. Luke Witkowski making the team over Martin Frk might be up for debate, but the former’s ability to play both forward and defense gives him the advantage…and grit of course. Michael Rasmussen also squeezes into the lineup. After a relatively quiet preseason, his dominant post-season performance in the WHL last season has at last earned him a nine game stint.

Defensemen

Hicketts – Dekeyser

Cholowski – Jensen

Kronwall – Hronek

Injury Reserve: Green, Daley, Ericsson

It gets interesting here because we really do not know how many spots will be open. Mike Green is expected to be out while Trevor Daley and Jonathan Ericsson are uncertain. For the sake of this prediction I am going to assume three spots will be open.

Joe Hicketts seems to be the front-runner to earn the permanent spot for the season. He didn’t look out-of-place in his short five game-stint last year and in the preseason, Jeff Blashill had kind words about the Kamloops, B.C. native.

Than comes Dennis Cholowski and Filip Hronek. Cholowski has essentially banged down the door and forced the club’s hand. If three spots end up being open, he’ll be in the lineup. Lastly, I went with Hronek and Libor Sulak because of Hronek’s success last year. After seeing Hicketts take a step back last season, management may lean towards Hronek for developmental purposes.

That leaves the season long depth chart as:

Hicketts

Cholowski

Hronek

Sulak

Goaltenders

Howard

Bernier

Not much of a discussion here. Jimmy Howard and Jonathan Bernier are going to be this years tandem. I lean towards Howard as the starter due to his history with Detroit.

    • D-Boss

      Ericsson and Kronwall are not going on waivers. They don’t want to leave the young D hanging like that without any veteran presence. Kronwall’s contract is up after this year and Ericsson’s is next year. The team isn’t going to be contending for any Stanley Cups in that time anyways.

      As for Witkowski, there’s just no room for him on the roster. The prospects out-worked him and took his job. And I’d rather see Svechnikov over Frk every day of the week. Both Wit and Frk will clear waivers if that’s the path they have to take.