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Red Wings lean on 22-year-old Dylan Larkin to lead new era

September 25, 2018

FILE - In this Thursday, March 29, 2018, file photo, Detroit Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard (35) makes a save during the third period of an NHL hockey game against the Buffalo Sabres, in Buffalo, N.Y. For the new season, Detroit appears to have a solid tandem in goal: Jimmy Howard and Jonathan Bernier. (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes, File)

DETROIT RED WINGS

LAST SEASON: 30-39-13, 73 points. Fifth place in Atlantic Division.

COACH: Jeff Blashill (104-105-37, fourth NHL season).

ADDED: F Thomas Vanek, G Jonathan Bernier, F Filip Zadina, assistant coach Dan Bylsma.

LOST: F Henrik Zetterberg.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Dylan Larkin. The 22-year-old center was given a $30.5 million, five-year contract to lead the franchise on and off the ice. Larkin led the team with 47 assists and 63 points, surpassing the career highs he set as a rookie two years ago. Without Zetterberg, he will have to do even more this season.

OUTLOOK: The rebuilding Red Wings will likely miss the playoffs for a third straight year, their longest drought since 1979-83. Zetterberg’s career-ending back injury was a hit for a franchise that simply can’t replace him this season. Larkin, Anthony Mantha and Andreas Athanasiou, all of whom signed multiyear deals last summer, provide some hope as young, talented forwards. Goaltender Jimmy Howard should be able to keep games close, but a shaky defense and lack of quality depth will be tough to overcome.

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