Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Kronwall, Datsyuk and Zetterberg are the leaders for Detroit in the early stages of this new decade.
1. Pavel Datsyuk
It didn’t take long, but Pavel Datsyuk developed into an elite talent that is renowned league-wide.
Among the best players in the world, his shifty, deceptive style of play makes him the most dangerous player in hockey without the puck. In the midst of his 12th season with Detroit, he currently has 32 points in 35 games and has averaged close to a point per game since his rookie season.
Datsyuk signed a three-year, $23 million extension in June, keeping him in Detroit through the 2016-17 season. Because of their unique eye for talent and innate ability to hold onto major talent, Detroit has another player bound for immortalization. The distinctive flair that Datsyuk provides is sure to be a staple in Red Wings lore.
2. Henrik Zetterberg
What started as the magical tandem of “The Euro-twins,” Henrik Zetterberg has blossomed into a world-class player of his own.
His leadership on and off the ice earned him the honor of being named the 36th captain in team history following the retirement of Nicklas Lidstrom and just the third since 1986.
Zetterberg has shown tremendous guidance for young talent and has the respect of his teammates, coaches and opponents alike.
The 33-year-old is signed through the 2020-21 season, likely making him another one of the many Detroit Red Wings lifers. Zetterberg’s 706 career points rank ninth in team history, trailing Ted Lindsay by 22 and Norm Ullman by 52. He’s the special kind of player whose ability transcends the scoresheet and makes him another model leader in Detroit’s rich history.
3. Niklas Kronwall
Niklas Kronwall had the luxury of learning from a true, consummate professional and the one of the best in the game in Nick Lidstrom.
Now that he’s the clear-cut No. 1 defenseman in Detroit’s young corps, Kronwall is saddled with a tough job. At 32 years old, he’s the oldest and most experienced defensemen on Detroit’s roster, something the franchise hasn’t seen in decades.
He has blossomed into a daunting offensive force on the back end, while drastically improving his play in his own zone.
In his 10th season with Detroit, he has a Stanley Cup from 2008 and has only posted a minus rating twice in his career. As a veteran leader on a team growing younger in a hurry, he’s become more valuable to the organization and has matured noticeably since Lidstrom’s retirement.