MOST VALUABLE PLAYER
Goaltender Jimmy Howard was on his way to a special season, on pace to shatter the team and NHL record for wins in a season, when he suffered a broken index finger on Feb. 2. After he returned, he twice missed short stints with a groin strain. Overall, he still had a strong season, going 35-17-4 with a career-best 2.12 goals-against average. His strong and consistent play gave the team a chance to win on most nights.
MOST DISAPPOINTING PLAYER
It was a tough season for versatile forward Danny Cleary. He was plagued most of the season by a sore knee that will require offseason surgery. The knee was drained several times and required a couple of cortisone injections late in the season. He needed a pain-killing injection before each playoff game. As a result, he struggled much of the season and had just 12 goals and 25 assists in 75 games.
They desperately need a sniper, a pure goal-scorer to support Pavel Datsyuk. Johan Franzen led the team with 29 goals but was too inconsistent. If Nicklas Lidstrom retires, they also will need a top-tier defenseman, someone who can log 23-plus minutes per game and play in all situations. It wouldn't hurt to add a decent-sized, physical fourth-line player who wears on the opposition's defense.
FREE AGENT FOCUS
Much of their offseason plan hinges in Lidstrom's decision to play another season or retire. It's 50-50. Defenseman Brad Stuart likely won't be back, but his spot essentially was filled by the late season acquisition of Kyle Quincey. Longtime net-front dynamo Tomas Holmstrom is expected to retire. Diminutive forward Jiri Hudler might cash in after scoring a career-high 25 goals. He likely will be offered more on the open market than the Wings are willing to give him.
--RW Johan Franzen came under quite a bit of criticism for his inconsistent regular season and poor playoff series, but it's highly unlikely that he will be traded. He is a proven goal-scorer (led the team with 29) and has a reasonable salary cap hit ($3.95 million). His offense would be difficult to replace for that amount of money.
--C Henrik Zetterberg re-established himself as a premier player and clutch performer late in the season and in the playoffs following an uncharacteristically slow start (nine goals, 26 assists in 52 games). He heated up over the final 30 games, putting up 34 points (13 goals, 21 assists) and finished as the team's leading scorer with 69 points. He was their best player in the playoffs, when he typically elevates his game.
--LW Gustav Nyquist impressed the team with his skills late in the season and earned a spot in the lineup for the final four playoff games. He hangs onto the puck and has good vision, with the ability to set up linemates and create scoring chances. He will need to gain strength in the offseason in order to win more puck battles along the boards and in the corners. The team is excited about his future.
--RW Danny Cleary was expected to have surgery on his left knee to repair torn cartilage.
--C Darren Helm (lacerated tendons in forearm) is expected to be ready for the start of training camp.
--RW Patrick Eaves (concussion) is expected to be ready for the start of training camp.
--G Joey MacDonald (bulging disc) hopes to heal with treatment and injections and avoid surgery.
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