Sunday, September 13, 2009
2009-10 Preview: Niklas Kronwall #55
This is the last year of Nick Lidstrom's contract and at 39 years of age, possibly his last in the league. What does that mean for the team? Someone will have to step up and be the new #1 when Nick does decide to retire. Rafalski? Yeah, he'll be there, but he's an offensive defenseman and Kronwall has the tools to be great all-around. So what we need from Kronwall this year is:
Shutdown defense in our zone and some offensive touch in theirs. Emphasis on 'some' because, again, this has to be a defensive-minded team if the Red Wings want to be successful. I think Kronner is capable of netting 10 goals and adding 35+ helpers this season. Kronwall was a +25 the year the Wings were a defensive juggernaut, but only +2 last season when the team was offensive-minded. The Wings need Kronwall to produce about 45 points this season and finish with a +/- of 15 or better. Wouldn't hurt if he played disciplined, too, but that hasn't really been an issue with him in the past. Keep 'Kronwalling' people!
Don't be surprised to see Kronwall paired up with Rafalski on the first power play unit if the score is lopsided for either team in any given game, but he'll spend most of his power play time with the second unit. I do expect to see him on the first PK unit and coach Babs will probably match him up against some teams top lines. He was amazing when Lidstrom was out against Chicago in the playoffs.
This is a big year for Kronwall. Let's hope he exceeds expectations.