|Pavel Datsyuk (Getty Images)|
Line 1: Tomas Fleischmann-Pavel Datsyuk-Johan Franzen
With Pavel Datsyuk you have one of the best players in the NHL and one of the all-time great draft steals. Tomas Fleischmann, the Red Wings second-round pick in 2002, never played a game in Detroit before being traded to Washington for Robert Lang.
The Red Wings didn't own a first-round pick in the '02 draft and didn't pick until No. 58 overall but still produced three straight NHL regulars in Hudler, Fleischmann and Filppula. Henrik Zetterberg was a 7th round selection in 1999, and like Datsyuk, one of the best steals in draft history. It also always brings up a good debate: How much of it is good scouting, how much of it is player development, and how much of it is luck?
I thought about putting Zetterberg on a line with Datsyuk, which they have done at times in the past, but I'll leave him at his more natural position.
Since Tomas Holmstrom hasn't officially made up his mind on whether or not he's going to return, I'll insert him into the lineup along with the speedy Darren Helm and Tomas Kopecky. Should Holmstrom decide to hang up the skates, slide Justin Abdelkader into that spot.
Offensive scratch: Justin Abdelkader
Normally this is where Nicklas Lidstrom would go but, obviously, his Hall of Fame career came to an end this summer and that leaves the Red Wings defense a little thin … not only for the purposes of our little game here, but also in real life. This isn't a bad pairing, but it's also probably not a great top pairing, either.
Yeah, as I was saying … the defense would be a little thin.
Defensive scratch: Brendan Smith
Goaltenders: Jimmy Howard - Tomas McCollum