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Past Fantasy Outlooks
Unable to recover from the chronic back pain that hampered him all offseason, Zetterberg, 37, has decided to retire. He ends his career as one of the most iconic players to ever wear a Red Wings jersey, finishing with 960 points in 1082 games.
Zetterberg wore the leadership hat as well as anyone last year. Despite the loss of Pavel Datsyuk -- a likely future Hall of Famer who called Zetterberg a teammate for 13 seasons -- the captain motored his way to 17 goals, 51 assists and a plus-15 rating, with the offensive output his strongest since the 2011-12 campaign. The Swede spent a career-high 61.6 percent of his 5-on-5 shifts in the offensive zone during coach Mike Babcock's final season behind the Detroit bench (2014-15), but successor Jeff Blashill has since made a point of giving the prized pivot more defensive responsibility. Either way, fantasy owners should expect Zetterberg to continue hovering around 19 minutes of average ice time, and he'll be tasked with resuscitating a power play that ranked 27th last go-around. Versatility, top-notch skating skills, and showstopping offensive skill make Zetterberg a low-maintenance fantasy option. It's been quite the storied career for the soon-to-be 37-year-old, yet there's reason to believe that he'll be able to play out the remaining four years of his $73 million contract productively.
At 35 years old, Zetterberg managed to play every game last season. He’s only done that twice in his career, with back and foot concerns creeping up in recent years. Much to the chagrin of his fantasy owners, the captain saw a 16-point drop from the previous season, finishing with 13 goals and 37 assists and failing to lead his team past the Lightning – he notched just one point in the first round of the playoffs. The most disappointing part of Hank’s campaign was his sudden disappearance in the defensive zone. His minus-15 rating was the worst mark of his career, and converting just 6.1 percent of shots certainly didn’t help matters. There’s a great deal of uncertainty about how Zetterberg will perform in 2016-17; Pavel Datsyuk, his uber-talented companion and teammate of 13 years, has left for the KHL, and the Wings have a logjam at the forward spot. Big Z will get his points, but father time is catching up with him, so it’s unreasonable to expect the Swede to come close to the 0.91 points-per-game pace that he’s averaged through 13 years in the NHL.
Hampered by injuries the previous two seasons, Zetterberg was able to skate in 77 games for Detroit in 2014-15, leading the team with 66 points. While he’s now 34 years old, Zetterberg is still one of the league's premier forwards, as he finished seventh in the NHL in assists last season and fired an impressive 227 shots on goal. Health issues should be taken into consideration, but Zetterberg's favorable team context may be enough to override any worries on the front. Zetterberg is sure to benefit from the offseason acquisition of Mike Green, who will give a big boost to the team’s power play, where the forward racked up 28 points last season. Even though he's now several seasons removed from his prime years of 30-plus goals and 90 points, Zetterberg hasn't been far behind a point-per-game scoring pace when he's been able to stay on the ice. If you can afford to carry a little extra risk, Zetterberg is one of the safer bets for steady point production that you’ll find.
Zetterberg dealt with major back issues in 2013-14, but was stellar when healthy, putting up 48 points in 45 games. He also made a surprise return in the playoffs, scoring two points in two games. He's had worrisome foot weakness in the offseason, but the Detroit captain claims he'll be fine in time for training camp. Zetterberg is 33, but remains one of the premier playmakers in the league and should give fantasy owners about a point-per-game performance if he remains healthy.
Zetterberg put together another great season in 2012-13, with 48 points in 46 games. The winger has averaged nearly a point a game his entire career, and now will get to play alongside Pavel Datsyuk full-time this season which can only help his production. The two seem to know where each other are at all times and could form one of the more potent scoring duos in the NHL. Zetterberg should get his usual point a game pace throughout the season, and will provide a stellar fantasy option for anyone who drafts him.
Even though he played in all 82 games for the first time in his NHL career last season, Zetterberg recorded his lowest points total (69) in the past five seasons. Back issues made him a durability concern a couple years ago, but now that he's missed just two contests in the last two seasons combined, those worries should subside. Much like teammate Pavel Datsyuk, Zetterberg's offensive regression could be attributed to an aging supporting case. Without a big change in personnel in the team's top six this summer, Zetterberg appears poised for another season in the 70-point range. There is also some question as to whether the Wings' power play can rebound from a disappointing season (22nd in conversion rate at 16.1%) while entering year one post-Lidstrom.
After playing a career-high 80 games in the regular season, Zetterberg returned to point-per-game status for the first time since 2007-08 while chipping in 30 of his 80 points with the man advantage (10 G, 20 A). He'll turn 31 early next season, but Zetterberg remains one of the league's better forwards and his fantasy value is even higher in formats where he still carries eligibility as a left wing. As always, he'll see time one of the league's top power-play units with Pavel Datsyuk and Nicklas Lidstrom, and Zetterberg should be one of the first forwards off the board in most formats.
The Wings' offense last season lacked secondary scoring options and Zetterberg's numbers remained on the relative low (70) as a result. Entering this season, the plan is for him to skate on Pavel Datsyuk's line again, which in tandem could certainly help put him closer to to the 92-point campaign he had when Detroit hoisted the Stanley Cup in 2007-08. Perhaps the most disappointing loss in Zetterberg's production was on the power play, where he scored just three goals with the man advantage last season after rolling up 28 markers in the previous season. A big part of the drought for Zetterberg may also be attributed to the absence of Johan Franzen for the bulk of the year. At age 30, he looks like a bounceback candidate and his playoff production (7 G, 8 A in 11 games) certainly supports his chances.
The Wings made a point to lock up Zetterberg with a 12-year, $72 million contract in January, well before he had the opportunity to hit the open market as an unrestricted free agent in July. On the heels of a Conn Smythe award in 2007-08, groin and back injuries limited Hank to 73 points in 77 games last season. Zetterberg has been prone to nagging ailments through his six NHL campaigns, averaging 10 missed games per year during that span. Zetterberg was already skating with his teammates a couple of weeks before the start of training camp, so the offseason appears to have gotten him back to full health. He'll turn 29 as the regular season gets underway, meaning that he's still capable of reaching the 85-90 point mark even if he's limited to 70-75 games again.
Despite playing in just 75 contests, Zetterberg tallied a career-high 92 points in the regular season before leading the league in points (27) during the postseason to earn his first Conn Smythe trophy as playoff MVP. Equal parts creator and finisher, Zetterberg provides the Red Wings and his fantasy owners with an excellent balance of twine-ticklers and helpers and he remains a perennial threat for 40 goals and even 100 points if he’s ever able to play an entire 82-game slate. Head coach Mike Babcock plans on splitting up Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk this season, but with Marian Hossa and Johan Franzen (among others) around to add firepower to the top two lines, there’s little reason to be concerned about a potential drop-off in production.
He was on his way to a 40-goal campaign when a nagging wrist injury slowed him down - and wiped out the last two months. That's the only downside to Zetterberg - the physical side of his game tends to wear him down as the year goes along. That said, if his body gives him 75 good starts, you'll get 80-90 points, and a darn fun guy to watch, too. He's no longer a sneaky fantasy value, but we'll be in the bidding late when his name comes up.
The ink hasn't completely caught up to Zetterberg just yet, but he was the team�s best, and most consistent, forward in 2005-06. It's a shame the Red Wings didn't hang around long in the playoffs, because Zetterberg was on top of his game (six goals in six games) and poised to post some giant numbers. The only thing keeping 'Hank' from superstardom is a pesky left wrist problem that's flared up now and again over the past year, but management says it's not worried and we'll take them at their word. Last year's 39-46-85 is roughly where the floor is for Zetterberg (if healthy), and he's still capable of climbing a level or two over the next few seasons. His wheels get the job done in 5-on-5, but it's the world-class hands that dominate on the power play.
Yes Virginia, not everyone in the Detroit lineup is ready to start cashing social security checks. Zetterberg doesn't turn 25 until October and could be headed for a breakthrough year, assuming his health cooperates - a nagging hip flexor got in his way during the opening week of camp. In more competitive groups Zetterberg could be trendy and slightly overpriced, but in less competitive leagues he's someone you'll look to steal late. In 2-3 years, he'll be an All Star.