2017 Outlook: For much of 2015-16, it looked as if Zetterberg's age was starting to catch up to him. His scoring was down from the previous season, when it had already taken a step down from his prime. But he cratered during the Wings' final 24 games, recording only one goal, eight assists and a brutal minus-18 rating. The final result was easily the Swede's worst statistical season since his rookie campaign. Considering he'll turn 36 shortly before the new campaign begins, it's hard to see Zetterberg taking a turn back toward his old point-per-game level, but it's also hard to believe the long-time star has totally fallen off a cliff. He's a solid bet to hit 50 points as Detroit's top center.
2017 Outlook: As a 19-year-old with almost no AHL experience after being taken 15th overall in the 2014 draft, Larkin made the Red Wings' roster last season and was given a premier role alongside Henrik Zetterberg. The results came instantly -- he opened his career with a five-game point streak and racked up 38 points and a plus-26 rating in his first 52 games. Like many of his teammates, Larkin went cold down the stretch; in his final 28 contests, he netted only seven points, and produced a minus-15 rating. Still, a 23-goal, 45-point rookie season from a player of Larkin's pedigree is no small feat, and the gifted Michigan native should build on that in his age-20 campaign as Detroit's top-line left winger.
2017 Outlook: Through the middle of February last season, Mrazek was well on his way to emerging as one of the NHL's top goalies. After 38 appearances, he owned a 21-10-5 record, 1.94 GAA and .933 save percentage. But the young Czech netminder stumbled down the stretch, posting a brutal .866 save percentage over his final 16 games while ceding a considerable amount of net time to veteran Jimmy Howard. However, Mrazek still ended up with shining stats over his 49 starts -- a 2.33 GAA and .921 save mark (11th in the NHL) are certainly welcome on fantasy rosters -- and he ultimately outplayed Howard in the Wings' one-round postseason run. At 24 years old, he's still developing and can be forgiven for slowing down the stretch in his first campaign as a No. 1 netminder. With both members of the tandem returning in 2016-17, Mrazek can again be expected to enjoy a majority role, but he'll need to show more staying power to approach 60 starts.
2017 Outlook: A tough, bottom-six grinder for quite a few seasons after coming up with Detroit, Abdelkader's been elevated to the coveted position of tough, top-six grinder over the last two campaigns, having become a first-liner and a member of the top power-play unit. In 2015-16, fantasy owners saw him deliver a well-rounded line, especially in leagues where his career-high hits and PIM (207 and 120, respectively) came into play -- although he also posted a career-worst minus-16 rating, mostly due to Detroit's team-wide late-campaign doldrums. Indeed, Abdelkader and the Wings ruined the hopes of many a fantasy owner over the regular season's last two months. Nonetheless, he appears set to once again enjoy top-six minutes, leaving him poised for another season of about 20 goals and 40 points.
2017 Outlook: Coming off a breakout year in 2014-15, Tatar saw a big reduction in ice time and experienced a stat decline accordingly, as his 45 points were 11 fewer than the year before. The Slovakian winger skated only 14:21 on average, a drop of nearly two full minutes, which accounts for most of the difference in his numbers. Coming into a new season, the 25-year-old – already a power-play regular, although his production took a downturn – will need to turn in a strong camp to lock up a top-six role. There aren't many players on the Wings' roster with more skill, and Tatar may feel extra motivation to secure his place as a key piece for the franchise's future, as he'll hit restricted free agency after this season.
2017 Outlook: After two seasons of goal totals in the high 20s and point totals around 50, Nyquist seemed poised to explode last season and realize the point-per-game potential he'd teased in college and the AHL. It didn't work out that way -- his power-play output was cut in half, and he scored 10 fewer goals overall as part of a disappointing campaign. He saw his minutes fluctuate, especially in the season's second half. But as he enters his age-26 season, the Swedish winger should come back looking to be more assertive on offense and spark a power-play unit that struggled last season. All the talent's there, and the opportunity is too, as he has a top-six spot lined up again.
2017 Outlook: An Islander for 10 seasons, Nielsen parted with the only franchise he'd ever known in July, inking a six-year deal to replace Pavel Datsyuk as the Wings' second-line center. That's an awfully big pair of skates to fill, but Nielsen's the right sort of player to do it -- he's become one of the NHL's better two-way centers, an asset on the ice in all situations. The risks of giving such a long contract to a 32-year-old center may come back to haunt Detroit, but fantasy owners should enjoy another typical Nielsen season -- a point total in the high 40s, maybe 50, with plenty of that coming on the power play and a little of it coming while shorthanded.
2017 Outlook: Green's first season with the Red Wings brought with it a continuation of the decline he'd started in Washington. Although he remained quite useful on the power play, hitting 20 points with the man advantage for the first time since his glory days in 2009-10, his overall point total dropped by 10, highlighting just how much Green struggled to produce at even strength. The Calgary native will turn 31 on opening night, but all the injuries he suffered in his 20s have taken a toll on his body, so it wouldn't be a surprise to see him continue trailing off gradually.
2017 Outlook: Vanek's experiment in the State of Hockey -- where he was a hero in college -- is over. The Austrian was, for the most part, a shade of his former self with the Wild, managing 39 goals and 93 points in 154 games. While that type of production isn't terrible, it certainly wasn't on par with the three-year, $19.5 million contract Minnesota gave him that ultimately culminated in a buyout at the conclusion of last season. Now about to hit the ice with Detroit (his fifth team since 2013-14) he will be looking to regain at least some of the scoring touch that allowed him to post multiple 40-goal seasons earlier in his career. That could prove difficult, as he's clearly lost a step at the age of 32 and will be buried in the Wings' bottom six, at least to start. Perhaps the decrease in pressure and insulation on the depth chart will be just what Vanek needs to get it going in Motown, but there’s a ton of risk involved here and owners should only consider dabbling if they can get him at a cheap enough price.