With all the injuries to the Red Wings this season, more than a few prospects are getting a shot at playing in the show. Injuries to captain Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk, Stephen Weiss, Johan Franzen, Joakim Andersson, Todd Bertuzzi, Dan Cleary, Mikael Samuelsson, the octopus, Joe Louis himself, and the popcorn vendor have opened the door for young talent to fill their shoes…or skates. Get it?
Tomas Jurco, Landon Ferraro, Riley Sheahan, and Luke Glendening have all gotten a chance to show their skills in the Red and White. Guys like Tomas Tatar and Gustav Nyquist have not only made the team this year, but have been thrust into prominent roles and performed admirably. Side note: Tatar and Nyquist should have been in the top 12 forwards all season.
As of 3/23, Sheahan has five goals, 13 assists, and 18 points with a plus-one rating. He has centered what has become Detroit’s second line and played strongly at both ends of the ice.
Luke Glendening has been one of Detroit’s top penalty killers, while providing a spark for the Red Wings’ fourth line. Due to injuries, he moved up to the third line at times. Glendening has earned Mike Babcock’s trust for penalty killing, defensive zone faceoffs, and shutting down opponents’ top players.
Jurco has contributed ten points playing on the “Kid Line” with Sheahan and Tatar before breaking ribs earlier in the month. His saucy paws are getting some valuable experience playing in Detroit before he was expected to crack the lineup.
Other prospects have gotten a chance in the Red Wings lineup, but have not played as much as the guys mentioned above. Landon Ferraro got a chance on the fourth line and even got a chance in the PK rotation, but was sent down for Mitch Callahan today (3/24). Teemu Pulkkinen appeared sparingly in three games, but got a chance to play the point on the second power play unit. Petr Mrazek has gotten in a few games with Jimmy Howard and Jonas Gustavsson each missing some time throughout the season. Adam Almquist, Xavier Ouellet, and Alexey Marchenko have all gotten a shot on defense this season.
Even though most of these guys will not be in the list of 23 players who make the team next year, this experience is great for their development. The extra confidence gained from playing high-stake NHL games will greatly improve their game and help them develop into the players Ken Holland, Jimmy Devellano, and the scouts envisions when they drafted or signed these players. It’s rare for the Red Wings to play so many young players, so they should take advantage of the playing time and soak in what is is like to don the Winged Wheel.