With the expected return of Pavel Datsyuk and Tomas Jurco Friday night against Chicago and Stephen Weiss making it through practices without injury, Ken Holland once again faces a tough decision regarding which player will be kicked off the Detroit Red Wings island.
Of the players on the roster, only Jurco is exempt from waivers and can be sent down to Grand Rapids without another team claiming him. But we all know that, as it has been discussed all summer and now into the fall. Jurco being sent down was supposed to mean the return of Daniel Alfredsson, but like some complex high school math problems, correlation doesn’t always prove causation.
What are Mr. Holland’s other options? He could try another conditioning stint in Grand Rapids for Stephen Weiss, though that option may be off the table since he’s already had a conditioning stint during his current Injured Reserve stay. Andrej Nestrasil could be sent down to Grand Rapids to further develop, but another team could claim the big, young winger. That option may be too risky for a generally risk-averse team. Dan Cleary could be sent down and exposed to a waiver claim. The downside to that is that Cleary is a veteran presence in the locker room for the young Wings and it could be a tough loss for the team, whether he is playing in Grand Rapids or elsewhere. Even Joakim Andersson could be on the chopping block.
So what will happen, given these circumstances?
We predict that Weiss will stay on IR until he is ready to be inserted into the 20-man game roster, further delaying this inevitable decision. Unless someone else is injured and can go on IR, Andrej Nestrasil seems like the most likely Red Wing to pack up his bag at the Joe and head off to Grand Rapids.
If Nestrasil goes unclaimed, it would be nice to see him develop further and add some more skill to his large frame. He can rejoin the Red Wings for the playoffs, when players can be recalled without having to go through waivers, or possibly earn himself a roster spot with Detroit next year following a breakout year in the AHL playing alongside prospects like Teemu Pulkkinen, Anthony Mantha, and Andreas Athanasiou.
Per Ansar Khan, Weiss will play another conditioning stint game in Grand Rapids next weekend after a week of practice. It appears everyone is safe for now, but this decision will have to be made after Weiss finishes his conditioning stint. However, the week leading up to Holland’s decision gives the Red Wings ample opportunity to get hurt and further delay subtracting someone from the roster.