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Top 9: Top Scoring Russians to Wear the Winged Wheel

In the mid- to late-90’s, the Russian Five dominated the NHL with their playmaking ability. Additionally, while two of those Russian Five members were playing their final few seasons with the Red Wings, another group joined them. Some thrived, some got traded.

The Red Wings were one of the first teams to drafted Russian players from the former Soviet Union. Players like Sergei Fedorov had to cross borders, sneak away from their team, and meet with NHL officials in secrecy to avoid severe punishments from the Soviets. All of that in order to achieve his dream of playing hockey in the best league in the world. Fedorov and others from Russia starred for the Red Wings are were able to put up some great numbers. You don’t really notice that with the talent packed into those six players.Take a look at the Top 9 Russian players in Red Wings’ history.

Side note: apart from the Russian Five and Pavel Datsyuk, the Red Wings really haven’t had that many Russian players.

9. Maxim Kuznetsov– 9 points in 117 games.

Maxim Kuznetsov

Photo courtesy of the Detroit Red Wings

8. Yuri Butsayev– 10 points in 75 games.

Yuri Butsayev

Photo courtesy of the Detroit Red Wings

7. Danny Markov– 16 points in 66 games.

Danny Markov

Photo courtesy of Dave Sandford/Getty Images

6. Slava Fetisov– 98 points in 205 games.

Slava Fetisov

Photo courtesy of the Detroit Red Wings

5. Vladimir Konstantinov– 175 points in 446 games.

Vladimir Konstantinov

Photo courtesy of the Detroit Red Wings

4. Igor Larionov– 397 points in 539 games.

Igor Larionov

Photo courtesy of the Hockey Hall of Fame

3. Slava Kozlov– 415 points in 607 games.

Slava Kozlov

Photo courtesy of the Detroit Red Wings

2. Pavel Datsyuk- 804 points in 824 games.

Pavel Datsyuk

Photo courtesy of Mark Mauno

1. Sergei Fedorov 954 points in 908 games.

Sergei Fedorov

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

Do the Red Wings Need Size in the Lineup?

Bob Probert

Photo courtesy of the Detroit Red Wings

It was apparent against the big, bad Bruins that the Red Wings were lacking in the physicality department. Milan Lucic, Zdeno Chara, and Kevan Miller pushed the Red Wings around and did not allow them to achieve consistency in their speed game. Since the Red Wings couldn’t play their game, they could not generate optimal scoring opportunities. Tuukka Rask is a world-class goalie and stopped everything the Bruins kept to the outside with ease.

Look at the teams still in the playoffs. Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, and Montreal all have complete teams with size and toughness to keep things in check. In Sunday’s Western Conference matchup, players like Brandon Bollig, Matt Greene, and Bryan Bickell keep everyone in line on the ice. There is no one player dominating or roughing everyone up. Those players police the ice, but have skills other than toughness.

Justin Abdelkader has similar attributes for the Red Wings, but no one fears him on the ice. He hits and fights more out of necessity than desire. Other than Abdelkader, the Red Wings really don’t have players that grind and wear down opponents physically, much like how the Grind Line was so effective for the Red Wings from 1997 to 2002.

Should the Red Wings invest in players to fill that role? Jonathan Ericsson, Drew Miler, and Brian Lashoff can be physical, but they don’t scare anyone. In the past, guys like Bob Probert, Darren McCarty, and Kirk Maltby created room for other players and lines to generate scoring chances. I think they need one more player to really wear down some teams.

Imagine an energy line of Darren Helm at center, Justin Abdelkader on a wing, and another player with grit. They could rough up a team with their up-tempo, physical style and create room for the other lines to score. Steve Downie, Steve Ott, and Brian Boyle cold all fill this role and contribute on the penalty kill if called upon. Boyle is currently filling this role for the Rangers in the Eastern Conference Finals. He gets under the skin of opposing players and has the physical strength to keep them from playing their game.

On the other hand, the Red Wings have not really employed this strategy lately. They tried with Jordin Tootoo, but he was too one-dimensional to fit the Red Wings system. In addition, Drew Miller is already slated for energy line duty and does not fit anywhere else on the team. Miller could play with Helm and an addition, but is slower and less physical than Abdelkader.

My vote is to add size. The players mentioned above would be good fits, as would Mitch Callahan on a line with Helm and Abdelkader. Speed and physicality will allow smaller players on other lines to do their thing without much resistance, or else those defenders would be dealt with. Detroit doesn’t need a fighter, just someone to scare the other teams.