Detroit Red Wings: Top Candidates to Replace Nicklas Lidstrom as Captain

Robert TheodorsonSenior Analyst IJune 4, 2012

Detroit Red Wings: Top Candidates to Replace Nicklas Lidstrom as Captain

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    The NHL lost a generational talent and one of the best defensemen ever to live last week.

    The old Swede finally decided to retire a year after winning his last Norris trophy while still remaining one of the best defensemen in the league.

    After taking over for Steve Yzerman, Nicklas Lidstrom led the Red Wings to two more Stanley Cup Final appearances, winning one of them.

    With the vacancy left at captain, whoever gets the position has huge shoes to fill. Being captain of the Detroit Red Wings is no small feat. Things are expected of you, like championships.

    No pressure.

    Here are the top-three candidates that should replace Lidstrom.

Niklas Kronwall

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    With the exit of Nicklas Lidstrom and Brad Stuart's seemingly inevitable exit from Detroit, Niklas Kronwall finds himself the longest tenured Red Wings defenseman. 

    Drafted in 2000, Kronwall is a rare first-round pick of the Wings. Kronwall is known for his predatory but clean hits which, more often than not, shock opposing forwards so bad that they need to go straight to the bench or take a trip down the tunnel. 

    Kronwall is becoming a major piece of the Red Wings' offense. While he did not have his best statistical year last season, he did set his own personal high in goals with 15. 

    Few players in the league can scare their opponents into submission like Kronwall does. Whoever underestimates him or loses track of him on the ice usually ends up paying for it.

Pavel Datsyuk

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    Hands down, Detroit's best player is Pavel Datsyuk.

    Datsyuk can do it all; he is the definition of a two-way center.  

    Without a doubt, Datsyuk is the league's best stick handler, turnover artist and probably the flashiest player there is. Datsyuk has moves that goalies can't even dream of.

    There are only two things holding Datsyuk back from instantaneously becoming captain:

    Datsyuk will turn 34 this summer, and the Wings might want to finally move away from an older veteran core now that their most important veteran has finally hung up the skates.

    Second, Datsyuk, despite his time in America, has not mastered the English language very well. One of the great things about Nicklas Lidstrom was that he could speak English better than 90 percent of the people born in this country; it was really quite remarkable. 

Henrik Zetterberg

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    My personal pick for the open vacancy at captain is Lidstrom's fellow Swede, Henrik Zetterberg.

    Hank may not be as good as Datsyuk on a personal skill level, but he's got all the media relation skills that Lidstrom had attained over time. The long-time alternate captain is well respected across the league as one of the better players of his day.

    There is little doubt in my mind that Zetterberg will be named the next in line for the promotion to captain.