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Wings GM Holland has “16 forwards fighting for 14 jobs”

Aug 14, 2012, 3:00 PM EDT

Ken Holland Getty Images

There are questions surrounding Detroit’s defensive depth after the departures of both Brad Stuart and Nicklas Lidstrom this summer.

Up front, it’s a different story.

That’s what Wings GM Ken Holland told the Detroit Free Press on Monday, suggesting that his squad will have 16 players battling for the 14 forward spots on the active roster.

The 16 are (projected): Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, Johan Franzen, Valtteri Filppula, Mikael Samuelsson, Dan Cleary, Darren Helm, Todd Bertuzzi, Jordin Tootoo, Damien Brunner, Patrick Eaves, Gustav Nyquist, Drew Miller, Jan Mursak, Cory Emmerton and Justin Abdelkader.

All are under contact except for Abdelkader, who Holland continues speaking with on a weekly basis. The Free Press reports Holland’s “closing in on a contract” with the 25-year-old RFA, likely to be in the $1.5 million cap hit range.

There are a number of compelling battles brewing. Eaves missed most of last season with a concussion, but says he’s feeling better and expects to be ready for training camp.

Mike Babcock said Brunner — the reigning Swiss league scoring champ — will “be a top-six forward to start” and Nyquist will push hard for a spot after debuting strongly for the Wings in 2011-12 (seven points in 18 games.)

  1. tmoore4075 - Aug 14, 2012 at 3:29 PM

    Wow depth unlike last year. Defense still needs some major help though.

  2. kiopta1 - Aug 14, 2012 at 3:53 PM

    It does help the def when you have forwards that can play it and pressure the puck.

  3. cmutimmah - Aug 14, 2012 at 3:57 PM

    It’s almost the same Forward group as last year… I don’t think Sammy, Tootoo, and Brunner (who doesn’t play defense well) will be able to make up for the lose of Lidstrom and Stewy…

    They will be a fringe playoff team and hope this cap room pays off at the deadline…

  4. hockinj25 - Aug 14, 2012 at 4:33 PM

    I think Mursak and Emmerton don’t make it. Neither look to be big contributors in the future and they could both be part of any deal for a d-man.

  5. t16rich - Aug 14, 2012 at 5:21 PM

    We shall see, but I see Holmstrom coming back for another year.

  6. winger77 - Aug 15, 2012 at 1:03 PM

    Mursak and Emmerton seem the most likely to be out. although, Brunner is on a two-way contract. so, if they’re not fully confident with him after the preseason, he could be sent back to GR. they need Tootoo on that 4th line on most nights. i hate saying that, but the truth is that he brings something that this team’s been missing for quite some time and they need his toughness and ability to agitate opponents on the ice.

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