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Red Wings' roster busy before facing Blackhawks

by Brian Hedger

DETROIT -- There wasn't a game Saturday at Joe Louis Arena, but it sure was a busy day on the ice and in the Detroit Red Wings locker room.

It started with rookie free-agent acquisition Dan DeKeyser, who's from suburban Detroit, signing an entry-level contract prior to his first NHL practice then leading the Red Wings in stretches before getting a stick-tap welcome.

After practice, news started breaking right there in the locker room -- Red Wings coach Mike Babcock told reporters that injured veteran forwards Johan Franzen (lower body) and Mikael Samuelsson (finger fracture) were cleared to play against the Chicago Blackhawks in Sunday's NBC Game of the Week (12:30 p.m. ET) at Joe Louis Arena.

"Samuelsson and Franzen are cleared to go," Babcock said. "So we'll decide [Sunday] morning when we get in here on a lineup and all of that. I don't even know where we are roster-wise and all of those things right there, so we have to get all of that worked out."


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Red Wings general manager Ken Holland then met with reporters and said the only thing that would change the plan of Franzen or Samuelsson playing would be if either or both experience a setback Sunday morning.

Holland also needed to clear some space on the 23-man roster for Samuelsson to rejoin off the injured reserve list, which he's been on since getting hit in the left hand with a shot Feb. 19 during the morning skate before a game at the Nashville Predators, giving him a non-displaced fracture in his index finger.

Not long after Holland met with reporters, the Red Wings announced they had traded veteran depth defenseman Kent Huskins to the Philadelphia Flyers for a conditional seventh-round pick in the 2014 NHL Draft. That cleared a spot for Samuelsson, whom Holland signed as an unrestricted free agent last summer to help with veteran forward depth.

Samuelsson, however, has been limited to three games because of his injury.

"It's been a little up and down, but I try not to think about that now," he said. "I'm excited to be where I'm at now. I felt like I could play [during Saturday's practice]. I felt good."

Holland will need to clear one more roster spot for DeKeyser on Sunday, when his contract -- which was officially turned into the League on Saturday -- is expected to be approved. The Red Wings are expected to send somebody down to Grand Rapids of the American Hockey League to make room; the likely candidate is forward Gustav Nyquist.

It was good news about Franzen, who left Thursday night's road loss to the San Jose Sharks after two periods with an undisclosed lower-body injury. Evidently, he feels good enough to give it a go against the Blackhawks, who lead the Western Conference with 53 points despite dropping a 2-1 game Friday night to the Anaheim Ducks (50 points) at United Center.

Veteran power forward Todd Bertuzzi also continued skating with the Red Wings by practicing Saturday. He's struggling with a pinched nerve in his back that's kept him out for most of the season.

It didn't sound like quite as good news for injured center Darren Helm, who's played one game and remains out indefinitely with a painful back injury that isn't healing.

"I just saw all of the MRIs and all of that, and they were explaining it all to me, and it sounds like things are going in a positive direction for him," Babcock said. "But we've been hearing that for a long time, so when he starts practicing every day and has no side effects, we'll know something good's happened."

Something good has happened for Detroit defenseman Kyle Quincey in the past week. After taking a puck to the face March 15 against the Edmonton Oilers, it's been determined he doesn't need corrective surgery and potentially could return in two weeks.

Quincey participated in Saturday's practice while wearing a protective cage, which Babcock took as a positive development.

"[Quincey] was supposed to be out forever," Babcock said. "I saw him with a face mask out there skating pretty good [Saturday], so I imagine he'll be telling me that he's ready pretty soon, which I like."

Detroit sent veteran defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo to Grand Rapids of the American Hockey League on a conditioning assignment after he got medical clearance to return from a frustrating shoulder injury.

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