Last season Red Wings forward Johan Franzen tore his ACL in early October and was limited to just 27 regular season games. Of all the players the Red Wings lost to injury last season, losing Franzen for four months was most significant. Franzen has the ability to lead the Red Wings in goal scoring every season, and has the potential to net 40 plus goals. It’s never the Red Wings goal to exit the playoffs early, but getting bounced in the 2nd round has allowed the team to fully recover from injuries and gave them the opportunity for some much needed rest after several years of deep playoff runs. Franzen expressed to the Detroit Free Press how much the added rest has helped him this offseason:
“I’m feeling really excited to get going again,” Franzen said. “Last season was more of a rehabilitation for me to get my knee back in shape. I feel really hungry this year and in good shape and really strong. I’ve been working out from the day I got injured, pretty much, so I’m probably in the best physical shape I’ve been in. I needed this summer to get really healthy. Now I feel 100%.”
While the Red Wings re-acquired Jiri Hudler, and signed future Hall of Fame-er Mike Modano to ignite the offense, a healthy Franzen should have a far greater impact. The Red Wings now have the depth to comfortably put Zetterberg and Datsyuk on the same line without being concerned about thinning talent on the other lines. This flexibility should allow Zetterberg and Datsyuk to rebound from their disappointing seasons, and get them off to a hot start. An inconsistent scoring attack plagued the Red Wings last season, but if they can ‘feed the Mule’ for 78+ games the Wings should return as one of the top scoring teams in the NHL. The Red Wings will enter this season with their usual share of non-believers who think the team is too old, but these quiet additions will have the Red Wings fighting for the Cup once again.