As I've got some time on my hands and figured that doing so would be enjoyable, I've jotted down my opinions on player performance thus far. Enjoy the read.
Justin Abdelkader: B. Abdelkader's role is to crash, bang, retrieve pucks, and score where he may, and he has done a fair job of it. He may be better suited to the third line, as he continues to have trouble producing elsewhere.
Daniel Alfredsson: A-. It took Alfie a few games to get comfortable, whereupon it quickly became apparent why this guy is a lock for the Hall of Fame. He excels on offense, is scrupulous on defense, and positively exudes poise. Now he just needs to start scoring goals.
Joakim Andersson: B+. Faceoffs and defensive play are Andersson’s roles, and he has been performing those admirably. His play in his own zone, already quite good last season, has shown marked improvement in the current campaign, and he has become a mainstay on the penalty kill. He’s committed to defensive play in a way that few players are. Unfortunately for him, he spent quite a bit of time on that abomination of a 3rd line with Bertuzzi and Cleary. As was shown in the game against the Sharks, he performs better on a shutdown line. Look for him to continue improving as he matures.
Todd Bertuzzi: C+. Three points just isn’t good enough for the role Bertuzzi plays. He certainly tries his hardest, and he’s still got a lot of talent, but his age is showing. While it’s possible that he’s not being optimally used, it’s clear that he’s no longer able to generate much offense of his own accord.
Daniel Cleary: D. Cleary has been virtually invisible when he isn’t falling down or making a mistake. He’s still got all the heart in the world, but his play is even more dismal than it was last season. He has been utterly ineffective on offense---Babcock seems to have recognized this, as Cleary’s power play time per game has dwindled to almost none---and even the famously hard-nosed element to his game seems to be absent now; for example, he currently ranks below even Johan Franzen in hits and blocked shots. I can’t say what he contributes behind the scenes, but right now he’s taking up a spot in the lineup that could be far better utilized by any of several other players.
Datsyuk: A+. Datsyuk performs as well as he is able: that is, at a level matched by exceedingly few professional hockey players anywhere. He is capable of feats unmatched by anyone, and never gives less than 100%. He is truly as a fine wine, growing only better with age.
Danny DeKeyser: A. Truly a gem, DeKeyser plays with poise and ability generally reserved for players with ten times his level of experience. He has demonstrated his ability to ably play top minutes in any situation, and this with only 22.5 games of NHL experience. DeKeyser is performing splendidly, and it’s entirely possible, perhaps probable, that he has not yet even sniffed his full potential.
Patrick Eaves: N/A. Patty is hopefully on his way to recovery, though it’s unclear if he’ll have a spot on the team whenever he does return.
Cory Emmerton: C-. Anything that Emmerton can do, Glendening can do better. Emmerton is simply mediocre at everything he does, and he does not work hard enough to compensate. Barring a string of injuries at center, Emmerton's days with the Red Wings are almost certainly over.
Jonathan Ericsson: A. Ericsson has grown from a mistake-prone, boneheaded youngster into a rock-solid shutdown defenseman. While it would be great if he’d learn to better use that giant slap shot of his, he certainly does his job well as it is.
Johan Franzen: C-. It’s plainly obvious at this stage that Franzen is held back from stardom only by his refusal to exert himself. His excellent performance in the game against the Avalanche is a microcosm of his very substantial talent and ability, both of which will continue to go unused so long as he continues to float. One can only hope that he will someday soon find reason to reform his attitude.
Luke Glendening: B. Glendening brings a lot of energy and speed to his game. Though he's a bit undersized, it's clear he's got a future as an effective NHL grinder ahead of him. Whether or not that will be in Detroit is as yet unclear.
Jonas Gustavsson: A. Monster let in a couple of stinkers during his three-game run, but he was excellent in sum. Though his troubles have always centered on consistency rather than talent, it’s nevertheless good to know that the team has a capable backup.
Darren Helm: N/A. As with Eaves, he’ll hopefully be able to play again soon. Unlike Eaves, he has a guaranteed spot when he returns. Hockey analysts rightly refer to Helm as a difference-maker.
Jimmy Howard: A. Howard has thus far been as rock-solid as he was last season, or perhaps even better. He hasn’t yet let in a single bad goal.
Jakub Kindl: B. Two seasons ago, Jakub’s future with the organization was very much in doubt. Not so anymore, as he has developed into a fine bottom-four defenseman and continues to improve. Hopefully he’ll find that offensive touch one day. In the meantime, he’ll remain a very viable and cost-effective option for the third pairing.
Niklas Kronwall: A. Few if any complaints can be made about Kronwall’s play thus far. He has performed quietly and ably as the team’s #1 defenseman, as befits his well-earned position as one of the mainstays of the team.
Brian Lashoff: B. Far from his often bungle-filled showings of last season, Lashoff has performed very ably thus far. He’s unlikely ever to contribute much offense, and he’s best kept away from top opposition, but he has been consistently making the correct plays in the defensive zone. At the very least, he’ll remain an affordable third-pairing option.
Drew Miller: C. While nobody expects Miller to be highly visible, he is rightly expected to be at least somewhat visible, and he has thus far been neither. Perhaps this can be blamed on his linemates---he has played very well in the past with the likes of Eaves and Helm, neither of whom are currently available---but better things were expected of him when he was awarded his new contract.
Xavier Ouellet: N/A. One game isn’t enough to form an opinion from, though his performance therein was very encouraging.
Kyle Quincey: B-. Yes, Quincey isn't flashy, and yes, he doesn’t produce offensively, and yes, he probably wasn’t worth the 1st that was given for him, and yes, he hasn’t done as well as anyone---management included, most likely---had hoped. However, this doesn’t mean that he’s a total loss, and he has stepped up quite nicely in the three games since Kronwall’s injury. Hopefully this will continue.
Mikael Samuelsson: D+. Just about nobody wanted Samuelsson to be on the team this season, management included, and for good reason: he just isn’t a worthwhile component. He did, amusingly, score the first goal of the season, but his very questionable utility has seen him in and out of the lineup since. He’s not the sort to make glaring errors, but he’s also not particularly good at anything.
Brendan Smith: C-. “Frustrating” is the best word to describe Smith’s performance so far. It is plainly apparent that he has a very substantial level of talent. It is just as obvious that he lacks entirely the poise to go with it. His best two games of the season have come when he was not paired with Quincey; whether or not the two of them simply bring out the flaws in each other, it’s clear that Smith has a lot of maturing to do.
Tomas Tatar: N/A. Like Smith, Tatar has got a lot of talent. Unlike Smith, he’s got the poise and confidence to go with it. Also unlike Smith, he’s not being given much of a chance. Hopefully this changes; he deserves a proper shot now, not later.
Jordin Tootoo: C+. Tootoo brings a lot of energy and verve to the ice, and lays out everything he’s got on every shift. Unfortunately for him, whether or not he’s the best use of a roster spot is open to question.
Stephen Weiss: C-. Weiss hasn’t been nearly good enough, plain and simple. He performs decently in the defensive end and on the penalty kill, but he has been generally invisible, and his speed and ability have been nowhere on display. This can be explained away somewhat by his unfamiliarity with the system, but he’s got to turn his play around soon if he’s to justify the very substantial investment made in him.
Henrik Zetterberg: A+. Truly a worthy successor to Yzerman and Lidstrom, Zetterberg brings it all every game.