Detroit Red Wings Captain Henrik Zetterberg could miss upcoming season


Detroit Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg is possibly facing retirement as the 37-year-old Swedish forward is dealing with a health issue. It's possible that Zetterberg won't be able to suit up for the NHL team to start the upcoming 2018/19 season due to an ongoing issue with his back. General manager Ken Holland recently announced the news on the club's website and said Zetterberg's health issues mean he hasn't been able to train properly during the offseason.

Holland, the rest of the club and the team's fans obviously hope for the best, but they'll just have to wait until training camp starts in September to see how healthy the player is. If Zetterberg is able to play it will be his 16th season in the NHL, all with the Red Wings. The back problem isn't anything new since he had surgery on it in 2014 to fix a ruptured disc. However, he missed just five games in the 2014/15 campaign and has been able to play the full 82-game schedule in each of the last three seasons.

But according to Holland, Zetterberg had some issues with his back last season and although he played the club's games, he didn't practice with the squad for the last 10 weeks of the schedule. The news from Holland doesn't look too good at the moment, especially since he announced on July 1st that he believed his captain would be able to play this year. Zetterberg's scoring output may have tailed off slightly with age over the past few years, but his leadership skills and experience are essential to the team.

Zetterberg came in second in team scoring last season with 11 goals and 45 assists for 56 points as centre Dylan Larkin led the Red Wings with 63 points. Larkin, who just signed a fiver-year $30 million contract with Detroit, said Zetterberg has played with a lot of pain over the years and believes he's still the best player on the team. He added that he definitely hopes the veteran can play this year, but understands that his health and future need to be taken into consideration.

Zetterberg told the press at the end of last season that he isn't thinking about retirement any time soon and he'll work out in the summer and see how he feels once training camp opens. If for some reason he can't play in 2018/19, there's a good chance Zetterberg may have to hang up his skates due to his age and deteriorating back. He'll turn 38 years old in October. So far, he's appeared in 1,082 regular-season games and has racked up 960 points on 337 goals and 623 assists.

He's also played in 137 playoff contests and added another 57 goals and 63 helpers for 120 points. Zetterberg led the Red Wings to the Stanley Cup in 2007/08 and was rewarded for his excellent performance by winning the Conn Smythe Trophy as the most valuable player in the postseason.

Buffalo Sabres ready to climb the NHL standings


The Buffalo Sabres have been one of the NHL's doormats for the past several seasons, but general manager Jason Botterill is doing his best to change that. The Sabres finished dead last in the league last season for the third time since 2013/14 with 62 points. However, they finally won the draft lottery and now look poised to make the postseason for the first time since 2010/11. The Sabres did manage to add one key piece to their rebuilding puzzle when the Edmonton Oilers drafted Connor McDavid first overall three years ago as they landed forward Jack Eichel with the second pick.

Eichel hasn't had much in the way of help on the ice since then though other than centre Ryan O'Reilly. Therefore it's hard to understand how the club will be any better this season since O'Reilly was traded this summer. Of course, finally owning the first overall draft choice was a step in the right direction and Botterill used it to select ace 6-foot-2-inch Swedish defenceman Rasmus Dahlin from Frolunda HC of Sweden's Elite League. Along with Rasmus Ristolainen, the Sabres now appear to possess two of the best young defencemen in the game and also have Zach Bogosian and Jake McCabe in the mix.

The defence certainly has unlimited potential with those two on the blue line and Botterill then went about upgrading the forward positions. He acquired Conor Sheary from the Pittsburgh Penguins for a conditional fourth round draft pick. Sheary proved he was the real deal in 2016/17 with 23 goals and 30 assists for 53 points in just 61 contests, but his numbers dropped off last year with 18 goals and 12 helpers for 30 points in 79 games. The Sabres feel he can regain his scoring touch though by skating on the left wing with either Eichel or Casey Mittelstadt at centre.

Let's not forget the O'Reilly trade to the St. Louis Blues enabled Buffalo to add some depth up front as Patrick Berglund was acquired along with Vladimir Sobotka, 20-year-old prospect Tage Thompson and a first and second-round draft pick. The newcomers will be joining Eichel, Sheary, Mittelstadt, Kyle Okposo and Sam Reinhart up front in a young and versatile forward core. To top things off, Botterill was then able to pry Jeff Skinner away from the Carolina Hurricanes for a prospect named Cliff Pu and a second, third and sixth-round draft pick.

The 26-year-old Skinner is a quick, skilled winger who has cracked the 30-goal barrier three times and racked up 89 goals over the past three campaigns. Only 11 other NHL players scored more than Skinner during that span and just six players bettered his 74 even-strength goals. Skinner, the NHL's rookie of the year as an 18-year-old in 2010/11, obviously believes Botterill has the Sabres moving in the right direction as he agreed to waive his no-trade clause to join the team. He told the media he believes the Sabres' young core is quite exciting and he feels he can be a key piece of their puzzle.

So while the Sabres seem to look pretty good at both ends of the rink heading into the season they're also going to need top-notch goaltending to improve in the standings. This task will fall on the shoulders of 32-year-old Carter Hutton who was signed as a free agent from St. Louis in the offseason. Hutton inked a three-year deal for $8.25 million and will be entering his sixth NHL campaign. He played just 32 games last year and went 17-7-3. But when it came to goalies who appeared in at least 30 contests he led the league in goals-against average at 2.09 and save percentage at 93.1.

Hutton will now have to prove he can be just as effective with a heavier workload. If he should happen to falter it looks like 25-year-old Linus Ullmark will get the nod. Ullmark has appeared in 26 games with Buffalo over the past three seasons with a 9-13-2 record along with a GAA of 2.52 and a 91.7 save percentage. All the stars will need to align for Buffalo to make the playoffs this year. They need to score more goals, allow fewer against, stay healthy and improve both on the power play and penalty kill. If they can gradually achieve all of those goals, the club should be playing in the postseason once again in the next year or two.