Detroit Red Wings: Will a Henrik Zetterberg Captaincy Re-Ignite Him Offensively?

Isaac SmithAnalyst IOctober 17, 2012

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 21:  Henrik Zetterberg #40 of the Detroit Red Wings celebrates his goal at 3:36 of the first period against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on March 21, 2012 in New York City.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Detroit Red Wings superstar forward Henrik Zetterberg could be next in line (via for the captaincy position left vacant by the retirement of Nick Lidstrom last May.

If Zetterberg takes over, he would become just the third Red Wings' captain since 1986-87.

Zetterberg is a key leader on the team and is an obvious choice for captain, not just for his success on the ice and in the locker room but also because of his strong fluency in English—a must when talking to the media.

But the question for most Red Wings' fans is not whether Zetterberg would be a good captain, as fans likely already know that he has been exceptional as an "assistant captain."

Zetterberg is a great shut-down center and equally as good defensively at left wing.

But as great a defensive player as Zetterberg is, his best offensive days may be behind him, statistically speaking.

At 32 years old, Zetterberg is no longer the energetic goal-scoring forward that he once was. While he is still amongst the top-line forwards for the Red Wings, Zetterberg has hit 80 points only once since the Red Wings' Stanley Cup championship in 2008.

That most recent 80-point season in 2010-11, Detroit seemed to sacrifice defense for offense throughout that regular season and it really did not look defensively sound at any point throughout the season.

If Zetterberg's best offensive days are indeed behind him, all is not lost.

When Lidstrom took over the captaincy after the 2005-06 season when he put up 80 points, his point totals took a tumble the next season (62 points).

The Red Wings seemed to move on seamlessly without Lidstrom's offense, taking the Stanley Cup in 2008, just two seasons after he became captain and almost repeating as champs the following year.

If Zetterberg's point totals fall to the 60-point plateau, fans might start to worry, but as he only hit 69 points last season, he might not be able to get back to the 70-80 point level again unless he and long-time superstar teammate Pavel Datsyuk can get each other back on track offensively.

So does the captaincy guarantee that Datsyuk will get back on track offensively?

By no means, however Zetterberg is not a player to sit around and watch his offensive game deteriorate. It took him a while to get going last season with just seven points in Detroit's first 18 games. Zetterberg kept at it and finished with 61 points in the last 64 games.

Rest assured, NHL lockout aside, Zetterberg is good to go offensively whenever the season finally rolls around.

Captaincy or not, he will bounce back offensively next season.

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