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ESPN Summer Skate: Detroit Red Wings

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Summer Skate -- Detroit Red Wings

Until last season, the Detroit Red Wings were the league's great powerhouse -- they hadn't even finished lower than third since 1991. They were envied for building one of the league's best teams season after season despite poor draft positions; the key was to keep the team together and stock it with a depth of reliable veterans and enough promising youngsters to weather a rash of injuries.

This offseason has been no different, as they recruited distinguished and dependable veteran Mike Modano, and raided the European leagues once again for Ilari Filppula and Jiri Hudler. Even with these additions, their aging roster constantly affords opportunities for the right youngsters.

Trending up: LW Justin Abdelkader

Last season: Minus-1.8 GVT | VUKOTA Projection: 0.0 GVT

The Red Wings are notoriously cautious with their rookies, but a rash of injuries caused them to perhaps rush the 22-year-old Abdelkader, leading to a disappointing season in which he generally played below replacement level.

The fan favorite gradually stepped up his game and his improved toughness was a valuable postseason asset. The restricted free agent is likely to join Darren Helm and Patrick Eaves on what could become the league's best energy line, but based on his 76 points in 109 AHL games, Abdelkader could easily be promoted to skate with Modano. Regardless of where he ends up, expect Abdelkader to sign, stick and earn his keep.

Trending down: C Kris Draper

Last season: 2.6 GVT | VUKOTA Projection: 1.4 GVT

At 39 years old, Kris Draper is older than Kirk Maltby, Chris Osgood, Tomas Holmstrom and Brian Rafalski, though actually younger than Nicklas Lidstrom and Mike Modano. After two straight 17-point seasons, especially the last one at minus-13, a GVT of 1.0 and ice time chopped below 12 minutes, we thought the distinguished career of a man who was once traded for a single dollar was finally over. It turns out that he apparently had one more season left in him. We doubt he has two.-- Vollman

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Justin Abdelkader could be on the rise for the Wings.E.J.'s name to know: C Mike Modano

Now, I don't usually have a 40-year-old in this section. In this case, however, I think it's warranted.

After 20 seasons in the Stars organization, Modano decided he wasn't quite ready to retire. After pondering a couple of offers, the league's all-time leading American-born scorer decided to return home to his native Michigan, signing a one-year deal with the Wings. It certainly seems like a good fit.

In Hockeytown, Modano joins a veteran team that remains very capable of making another Stanley Cup run. And the Wings are a franchise that has done quite well adding aging stars to their locker room over the past two decades.

Modano, who had 14 goals and 30 points in 59 games for the Stars last season, is still a good skater and he can fit into a lot of different spots for head coach Mike Babcock. I expect he'll be energized by the change of scenery and he'll accept a supporting role behind Detroit superstar forwards Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg.

While I don't expect Modano to put up anywhere near the numbers he did during his prime, I think he has a shot at 20 goals/50 points. And in Detroit he'll have a real chance at another Stanley Cup. He certainly wouldn't have gotten that in Dallas or at home on his couch. -- Hradek

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