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The Wings have a strong minor league system and have several players that could make the jump next year. There will be rosters spots available, now the question is who gets to move up. Part of this will depend on if Eaves and/or Miller are able to be re-signed, which should be a top priority for the team.
Jan Mursak seems pretty safe to make the team next year. He played 19 games for the team this year and played well. He could fill the grinder role of Kris Draper and will only get better with more playing time.
Corey Emmerton is out of options so it is now or never with the Wings. He is a solid two-way player but not overly sensational in any one area. That’s not to say that there isn’t a place for him, but he might help the Wings more via a package deal with Hudler in a trade. If not, he will get a chance to show what he can do and should be solid.
Jakub Kindl played in 48 games, in this, his rookie season. While he did have the usual growing pains that take place in a players first season, he also showed enough promise that the Wings will likely not bring Ruslan Salei back, which will allow Kindl to take over that sixth defenseman spot.
Brendan Smith is the big question. Many have him rated as the top Wings prospect and he did earn all rookie honors in the AHL last season. He is a scoring defenseman with some amazing skills. Many have touted him as a future dominant force in the NHL. Is he ready yet though? While very gifted, he still needs to learn the nuances of the game.
The mental part is something he still needs to grow into and develop as well. He is only 21 years old and should see a big jump this year. He will likely spend most of his time in the minors, but should get a few chances on the Wings. What he does with those chances will determine how quickly he becomes a permanent fixture on the team.