Ranking Detroit Red Wings' 5 Most Impressive Players in 2013-14
Their season so far has been tumultuous at best, as some of their players have struggled to stay healthy or perform while healthy.
While some players are vastly underachieving, the Wings also have a group of players who have quietly been impressing fans and management alike.
Here are the Red Wings' five most impressive players in 2013-14.
Note: Impressive here means the most differentiation between expectations versus reality.
Honorable Mention: Riley Sheahan
Riley Sheahan was called up this year to play center because a number of Red Wing pivots have missed time this year, which left Detroit with a couple of vacancies down the middle.
Though he has played just 18 games in Detroit this season, his 11 points (including three two-point games) and decent defense have helped the Red Wings keep pace for a playoff spot.
Sheahan started out a bit tentative after being called up but has since proved why the Red Wings risked their 2010 first-round pick on the 22-year-old from St. Catharines, Ontario.
5. Daniel Alfredsson
When Daniel Alfredsson signed with the Detroit Red Wings last season, it was a high-risk, high-reward signing.
He has rewarded the trust of the management by putting up 35 points in 46 games and has been a key part of the power play this season.
Although that power play has struggled as of late, Alfredsson's presence on the ice (when not struggling with groin issues) has kept the Red Wings on track because of how well he thinks the game.
His shot from the point has been lethal this year, but he has also used it to set up teammates with a fake shot. His leadership going forward should not be understated as well on this young team.
4. Justin Abdelkader
While so many players who were supposed to lead the Red Wings this season have gone down with injuries, Justin Abdelkader has quietly capitalized on the increase in playing time and increase in quality of his linemates.
His 23 points in 53 games are not just a new career high, but they have also helped Detroit win some big games leading up to the Olympics.
He had three goals and an assist over his last five games leading up to Sochi, and while he was left off the U.S. Olympic squad, Abdelkader has been a pleasant surprise for Red Wings fans in an otherwise ho-hum season.
3. Henrik Zetterberg
Henrik Zetterberg's importance to the Detroit Red Wings cannot be understated. But this slideshow isn't about importance; it is about "impressiveness," so why is Zetterberg on it?
Well, to be frank, he has been equally as impressive as he has been important for Detroit this season.
His 48 points in only 45 games are slightly better than his pace last season, but more importantly, he has had several instances this season where he has looked unstoppable, recently putting up 12 points in a seven-game stretch.
When the Red Wings captain is at the top of his game, so too is his team.
2. Jonas Gustavsson
At the start of this hockey season, how many readers had Jonas Gustavsson having more wins than Jimmy Howard, after Gustavsson had just two wins in seven appearances last year?
But movie quips aside, he has been impressive with a 13-4-3 record overall. Despite allowing more goals recently, he has allowed the Red Wings to keep pace with playoff teams.
Gustavsson would have been the team's MVP just a month ago but has allowed more goals in recent games. His early-season performance, however, does enough to put him at No. 2 on this list.
1. Gustav Nyquist
Gustav Nyquist has done well for himself as a guy who didn't make the roster out of training camp.
He didn't make the roster because of talent reasons but because he had two games remaining on his waiver exemption—something that cannot be retained as he has now played more than 60 career NHL games.
He was called up in November and potted two goals in his first game of the season. He now has 14 goals and 24 points in 33 contests. He made the Swedish Olympic hockey team as a replacement player with 14 points in 11 games leading up to the break, including a hat trick, four-point effort against the Washington Capitals.
For a player who might not have played in the NHL this season if the Red Wings had stayed healthy, Nyquist has really impressed thus far.
All statistics via NHL.com.