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Detroit to ice top line of Datsyuk, Zetterberg and…Damien Brunner

Jan 11, 2013, 10:50 AM EDT

Datsyuk Zetterberg Getty Images

If fortune favors the bold, then Mike Babcock could be in for a big year.

On Thursday, the Detroit head coach announced he’d be starting the season with his two best players, Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg, playing together on the No. 1 line with Damien Brunner — an undrafted free agent signed out of the Swiss league.

It’s an interesting decision to say the least.

Datsyuk enjoyed great success last year with Johan Franzen and Todd Bertuzzi, while Zetterberg played strongly with Valtteri Filppula (who had a career year) and Jiri Hudler, now in Calgary.

But Datsyuk and Zetterberg have played together in the past, something Babcock alluded to when announcing the line.

“They’ve been playing [in Europe] and they’re in shape,” Babcock told “They play good together. Last year they started out slow, never got going.”

As for Brunner — well, talk about your golden opportunities.

The 26-year-old played on a line with Zetterberg during the lockout with EV Zug and led the Swiss league in scoring (25G-32A).

The soon-to-be Wings captain raved about Brunner’s skill and ability.

“He’s obviously a goal-scorer, but he’s got more qualities than that,” Zetterberg said. “He’s a good skater, sees the ice very well and he wants to win. That’s a good quality to have.”

As for Detroit’s other lines, it’s expected the second unit will consist of Filppula, Franzen and Mikael Samuelsson.

Darren Helm will center the third line between Bertuzzi and Dan Cleary, while the fourth line will be made up of Justin Abdelkader, Drew Miller and Jordin Tootoo.


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  1. bigbadbruins77 - Jan 11, 2013 at 11:25 AM

    Should be a great fantasy player pick up ! Shoot I could rack up the points between those two.

  2. grimlock410 - Jan 11, 2013 at 11:57 AM

    Yeah just like when Byron Bitz got to play with the Sedins this will be over in a week.

    • shoobiedoobin - Jan 11, 2013 at 12:31 PM

      That’s just ignorant and uneducated. Bitz was a 4th round waste-pick goon. Brunner is extremely skilled and has already proven himself both with Zetterberg and without.

      The only similarity YOU saw was “hey, look, two super skilled players and someone I haven’t heard of” and that’s all you needed to make a baseless assumption.

  3. mudkip23 - Jan 11, 2013 at 11:58 AM

    Detroit Redwings sign an unknown Swede? Geez that never happens!

    • wills19 - Jan 11, 2013 at 8:08 PM

      He’s from Switzerland

  4. timmmah10 - Jan 11, 2013 at 12:41 PM

    Brunner will be a STEAL in fantasy this year. And well, let’s face it, next year he will either be over priced or undrafted depending on if he sinks or swims. He’s a more defensive version of Hudler, so hopefully he sticks.

  5. chasingfisher - Jan 11, 2013 at 1:31 PM

    Babs always changes his lineups and im sure he will do the same this year. I just hope that he finds the ones that work and quick. no time to waste with a 48 game season. I thought a good lineup would consist of:

    Line 1: Z, Fil, Brunner
    Line 2: Franzen, Dat, Nyquist (no clue why he isnt geting pt with the boys!)
    Line 3: bert, Helm, sammy/cleary
    Line 4: Miller, Abby, tootoo

    1: Kronwalled-Ericcson
    2: Smith-Quincy
    3: White-kindl/Colaiacovo

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