Detroit Red Wings: The 2012 NHL Lockout – A Tale of Injury and Budding Talent

Valtteri Filppula and the second powerplay unit celebrate a goal.
By Rick Osentoski AP

By Rhys Richards (@RREsq)

On Tuesday, the NHL Lockout reached 66 days. With each passing day, the hopes of so many NHL fans fade. Some newer NHL fans likely vow to never watch the NHL again.

The NHL and NHLPA met again Tuesday for the second day in a row.  While the two sides have spoken numerous times in the past few weeks and seemingly made some progress, a new collective bargaining agreement does not appear to be on the immediate horizon.

For the Detroit Red Wings, forward Valtteri Filppula succumbed to a sprained right knee while playing for Jokerit in the Finnish professional league. The 28-year-old had posted six goals and nine assists in 16 games played.

Filppula broke out last season for 23 goals and 43 assists, a 26 point increase on his previous career high for the Red Wings. His play in Finland suggested that he was picking up where he left off and on the verge of potential stardom.

Filppula is expected to miss the next six to eight weeks, which would mean that he would not be prepared to play with Detroit should an NHL season begin in December.

In October, young forward Cory Emmerton returned to Detroit after he shattered his right index finger in his first game with SaiPa Lappeenranta in the Finnish league. The injury required surgery. He is recovering currently and expected to compete for playing time in Grand Rapids once he returns.

Despite the injury news, Detroit continues to watch the evolution of budding prospect Gustav Nyquist. In 14 games with the Grand Rapids Griffins, the young Swede has scored eight goals and added nine assists, which ties him for third in AHL scoring with a game in hand on top scorer Justin Schultz (21) and second best Jordan Eberle (19), both Edmonton products.

Gustav Nyquist takes on Nashville Predator Nick Spaling during Game Five of the opening round of the 2012 NHL playoffs.
By John Russell, Getty Images

In fact, a closer look at the top-10 in AHL scoring reveals that Nyquist is among the likes of Schultz, Eberle, Brayden Schenn (Philadelphia), and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (Edmonton), all of whom will be playing in the NHL whenever a collective bargaining agreement is reached and play resumes.

The Griffins lead the Midwest Division of the AHL with a record of 8-4-1. Defenseman Brendan Smith, who is also expected to make the big club to fill the void left by the retired Nicklas Lidstrom and departed Brad Stuart, has scored three goals and added six assists.

Other notable Detroit prospects Tomas Tatar, Landon Ferraro, and Tomas Jurco have posted 13, 10, and 5 points, respectively, in the same number of games. Goaltender Petr Mrazek has been sensational posting a 5-0 record, a .921 save percentage, and 2.34 goals against average.

Despite the positive signs for Detroit’s future, Red Wings fans will probably only be satisfied by a collective bargaining agreement that starts the 2012-2013 NHL season.

Information obtained from www.freep.com, www.detroitnews.com, http://theahl.com/stats/statdisplay.php?type=top_scorers, and www.hockeydb.com.      

Share your thoughts about the NHL, the Detroit Red Wings, and hockey in general with Rhys at Twitter: @RREsq.  He can be reached via email at RhysJRichards@gmail.com.  Join the many fans of The Hockey Guys on Facebook and Twitter @TheHockeyGuys

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