Detroit Red Wings wingers Gustav Nyquist and Tomas Tatar had down years compared to season’s past. But head coach Jeff Blashill believes both he and will rebound this season writes MLive’s Ansar Khan. Khan reports that Tatar and Nyquist scored a combined 18 goals less in Blashill’s first season and the second year coach responded by challenging his two wingers–and himself–to bring their production back to what it once was. Blashill had this to say in regards to their struggles:
“They both have been good players in this league. I’m going to challenge them like I’ve challenged a lot of our young guys to be an elite player, where you can put a team or a line on your back every night, but they also have to get the opportunity from me to be able to do that. I think they’re both ready for the challenge.”
Tatar and Nyquist were expected to do the heavy lifting as Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk (now retired from the NHL) were entering the twilight of their careers. Khan writes that both Nyquist and Tatar saw a decrease in their time on the ice, with Nyquist losing over a minute and half per game while Tatar experienced a decrease of nearly two minutes less on the ice per game as compared to 2014-15.
Nyquist and Tatar are the key to the Wings’ scoring, and Blashill realizes that. Further, Khan writes, Blashill knows it’s up to him to get his two scoring wings more opportunities on the ice.
In other Wings news:
- Defenseman Ryan Sproul has inked a two-year deal with Detroit, which means he’ll get another shot at becoming a regular defenseman with the team that drafted him. Khan reports that the first year of Sproul’s contract is a two-way deal while the second reverts to a one-way. Additionally, Sproul will earn $600K in his first season and $650K in the final year. Sproul has been a puzzling case for the Red Wings as he boasts the elusive right hand shot on the blue line that the Wings lacked until grabbing Mike Green and promoting Alexey Marchenko last season. Sproul packs a booming slap shot and the unwillingness by Detroit to give him a chance with the big club has not gone unnoticed by an anxious fan base. Khan reports that this may be Sproul’s last chance to make the team as he will have to pass through waivers should he be beaten out for a spot on the roster. Further, Khan wonders if Detroit will try and trade him for a draft pick. In Grand Rapids last season, Sproul had 35 points (12-25) and registered nine points in nine playoff games. Helene St. James also writes about Sproul and says its the defenseman’s liability on the back end that could cost him a chance in Detroit, but Sproul remains undaunted, citing his hero Green as the inspiration for his game. Should Sproul have a great camp, he could find himself sharing the bench–and possibly the ice–with his idol.
- The Windsor Star’s Bob Duff writes that Niklas Kronwall’s knee poses a threat to the defenseman’s present and future. Kronwall admitted that his knee is fine–until he skates–and as Duff reports, therein lies the problem. Duff adds that surgical options presented to Kronwall would certainly end his hockey career, and Kronwall isn’t sure himself when he will play again. Playing in the World Cup would have been too risky, so Kronwall passed on the chance. Despite the rest, it seems that the 35-year-old defenseman will have some crucial decisions to make about his knee–and possibly his career–in the near future.