Dylan Larkin is coming off a career year where he racked up 32 goals and 73 points. (Photo: David Guralnick, Detroit News)
This is the third of a three-part series examining the state of the Red Wings’ organization at every position. Monday: goaltenders. Tuesday: defensemen. Today: forwards.
Detroit – They are the hope, the beacon of light as the Red Wings dwell in this current rebuild.
Young forwards Andreas Athanasiou, Tyler Bertuzzi, Dylan Larkin and Anthony Mantha are the foundation the Wings are building around.
All four had career-best offensive seasons, and gradually began taking over leadership of the team.
If the Wings are headed anywhere this season, or in the near future, this is the core that will likely take them there.
“Can they carry a hockey team to wins? That’s a big question they’ll answer on a nightly basis next year,” coach Jeff Blashill said late last season. “It’s a heck of a responsibility. I don’t think there’s very many young players in the league that are able to carry their team.
“We’re going to ask that group of four up front to be a huge piece to carrying this team.”
No other position group on the Wings has as much skill and potential as the forwards.
After the core four, there are potentially big pieces who could be significant parts of the Wings’ roster.
Recent draft picks and free-agent signings such as Filip Zadina, Michael Rasmussen, Evgeny Svechnikov, Taro Hirose and Joe Veleno give the Wings a deep pool of young talent.
At least two, maybe three, of those prospects are expected to begin the year with the Wings this season.
Zadina, a 2018 first-round pick, could become a prolific goal-scorer in the estimation of many scouts.
General manager Steve Yzerman, in his introductory press conference in April, highlighted the Wings’ depth up front.
“We’re off to a tremendous start if you watched the team this year,” Yzerman said. “With the likes of Dylan Larkin, Anthony Mantha, Andreas Athanasiou, Tyler Bertuzzi, (defenseman) Filip Hronek, we have the foundation for a core there.
“We have prospects that we saw play in the American Hockey League this year with Filip Zadina. We have young Rasmussen who played in Detroit this year. There is an exciting group of young players, young prospects and a lot of draft picks.
“It’s going to take some time but I believe there’s a foundation there for this team to be successful.”
Larkin is likely to be the key piece now, and later, with his on- and off-ice presence.
Larkin, 23, took a major step forward in his career last season with a career-high 32 goals and 73 points, while also serving as an assistant captain.
With Henrik Zetterberg retiring due to back issues, Larkin took a greater leadership role and is expected to be named captain this season.
“Larkin is going to lead the way, bringing this franchise back to where we all want it to be,” defenseman Niklas Kronwall said at season’s end.
Larkin felt he developed into more of a two-way, complete hockey player last season, largely through Zetterberg’s …read more
Source:: Daily times