The cool people at the cool site Fantasy Hockey Scouts asked us to partake in their team-by-team season outlook. We were going to write a few paragraphs about the Peoria Rivermen but at the last second we did the Wings instead.
Here are two Wings that are going to have "breakout" seasons statistically this year. Feel free to disagree.
With the exodus of multiple point-producing forwards this offseason, the Wings will lean heavily on Leino in 2009-10. He turns 26 in October and was the Finnish player of the year in 2008, so he isn't that inexperienced despite finishing his first full NHL season.
Leino's style fits the mold of the Red Wings' system perfectly. He's a skilled, puck-possessing winger who already looks polished in the offensive zone. From the limited action we've seen, he plays well along the boards, exudes creativity and plays with a ton of confidence. He's not a speed demon or a good defender (there's points for backchecking in fantasy hockey right? No?), but his strengths outweigh the weaknesses, and he's got a ton of upside. Lord, how we've dreamed about using the word "upside" in a scouting report.
Intersting Fact: Leino scored his first NHL goal in the first period of his first game. It was stupendous.
Last Year: 13 games with 5+4=9
Fearless Forecast: 74 games with 15+28=43...an increase of 34 points
Filppula is a year younger than Leino, but he'll be starting his 4th full NHL season this year. His point totals have increased from 17 to 36 to 40 during his three regular seasons, and 5 to 11 to 16 in three post-seasons. Wings fans have a lot to be encouraged about after a very strong showing in the 2009 playoffs.
Another prototypical Red Wing, Fil is a talented two-way center who could be a couple years away from being a bona fide star in this league. His numbers don't yet reflect his untapped offensive potential, but trust me if you haven't watched him -- it's there. He'll be needed in 2009-10 to step up and fill the void left by the exits of Hossa, Hudler and Samuelsson, so every Wing fan is hoping that this will be the year.
Don't let his drop in goals from 2008 to 2009 fool you. He's a well-rounded offensive player who really found his stride this past spring and could turn a corner in 2010.
Interesting Fact: Filppula has been known to make women drop their pants with a simple stroke of his hair.
Last Year: 80 games with 12+28=40
80 games with 20+36=56...an increase of 16 points