5 Young Detroit Red Wings Facing High Expectations in 2013
The Detroit Red Wings are usually thought of as a veteran team. But while they have many veteran players, they also have a few talented younger players.
Some of these young players were already in the plans for this season. With the injury bug that has hit the team, several others are now getting an opportunity to play.
With the lower salary cap, there are moves that need to be made before next season. These five young players not only face high expectations, but also the pressure that comes with it.
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Cory Emmerton is in his second full season on the team. Last season, he had six goals and 10 points in 71 games. Not earth-shattering stats, but not horrible for a fourth line player.
Through the minors, he was known for being a good passer who could set up teammates. So far, that has not translated to the NHL level, as he only has 13 assists in 84 games.
With the injuries that the team is having this season, many young players will be getting an opportunity to play. Emmerton is under pressure to step up and outperform some of these players.
Emmerton does have a low salary cap number and is still under contract through the end of the 2013-14 season. If he falls behind some of the other younger players, then he will become expendable.
At the start of the season, few fans had heard of Brian Lashoff. After injuries depleted the defensive unit, Lashoff was called up.
He impressed immediately, playing solid defense and scoring in his first game. Coach Mike Babcock has felt comfortable using him is all situations.
As injured players start to return, Lashoff might be bumped back down to the minors again. While he has outplayed some of the veteran players, he needs to do more to earn a permanent spot on the roster.
He will be a restricted free agent after this season, so the time to step up is now.
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Brendan Smith was playing well before a shoulder injury took him from the lineup. He came to the team with a reputation for being an offensive-minded defender. During his time in the minors, the Red Wings wanted to him to work on his defensive responsibilities as well.
So far this season, the lessons have worked–although perhaps too well– he has zero goals and one assist in eight games. He had a plus-four rating before his injury and has played very good defense.
With his talent and potential, he has no worries of losing a roster spot. His pressure comes from living up to the hype. The added pressure of coming back from injury will also weigh on him.
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Tomas Tatar just cannot seem to get enough time on the roster. In the minors, he has been a consistent scorer for the Grand Rapids Griffins.
The major concern seems to be his size. The Detroit Red Wings have him listed at 5’10” and 186 lbs.
In the minors he has scored 24 goals in each of the past two seasons. This season he had 19 goals and 39 points in 44 games before being called up.
Tatar is a good skater who can score, but just has not been given enough of a chance. He must be able to focus on his game whenever he does get a chance to play and fight the urge to press too hard. There is a good chance that he will be among trade bait.
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A week ago, most fans had never heard of Petr Mrazek. He has risen quickly through the minor league system and has been successful at each stop.
With Jimmy Howard needing a rest and Jonas Gustavsson being injured, the team called Mrazek up from Grand Rapids. He had a tall order facing the St Louis Blues in his debut game. The 20-year-old net minder stopped 26 shots as the Red Wings won 5-1.
He looked very calm while making made save after save, and showed no signs of being a rookie in his first game.
Mrazek now becomes the next great thing to the fans. While the thought is that he was still a year or two away, one game will have people wanting to rush him. If he gets another chance, the expectations and pressure will be even higher.
He must now be able to overcome an off game. He has to show that he can handle the obstacles that come with first-this time success at the NHL level.
PJ Sapienza is a Featured Columnist covering the Detroit Red Wings, as well as many other sports. You can follow him on Twitter.