BUFFALO, N.Y. – The Red Wings made a move Friday that will give general manager Ken Holland the flexibility to recall a defensemen or goaltender from Grand Rapids if necessary.
Detroit placed Joakim Andersson on waivers. Teams have until noon Saturday to make a claim on the 26-year-old forward. However, should Andersson not be claimed, he will not be assigned to the Griffins of the American Hockey League.
“Being placed on waivers doesn’t mean we have to send him down. He won’t be. He’ll stay with us,” coach Jeff Blashill said following the team’s morning skate at First Niagara Center. “It gives us the flexibility with our tight cap space that if we needed to send him down –for example, right now for a defensemen or a goaltender – we could do that. So it’s a cap-related issue. That’s it.”
Blashill confirmed that Andersson will remain in the lineup and skate with Luke Glendening and Teemu Pulkkinen on the fourth line when the Red Wings faceoff against the Buffalo Sabres tonight at 7 p.m. EST.
“As of tonight and the near future, certainly as of tonight, he’s going to play and he’s a Red Wing, and we expect him to play well,” Blashill added.
Andersson has played in 25 games this season, producing one goal and two assists. He’s been a healthy scratch 21 times.
Still, Blashill was fairly certain on Friday that the Wings won’t lose Andersson to waivers.
Andersson becomes the fourth Wings’ player to go on waivers during this season. Dan Cleary and Jakub Kindl both cleared and were assigned to Grand Rapids. Landon Ferraro was claimed by the Boston Bruins in November.
“I see lots of guys clear waivers right now,” Blashill said. “Everybody is so tight against the cap but you never know until it happens. Some times I’ve been right, some times I’ve been wrong. But I will say lots of guys are clearing and everybody’s tight against the cap.”
With Niklas Kronwall out for the next 2-4 weeks, the Wings are carrying six defensemen. Should someone sustain an injury, the Wings would need to recall a defenseman like Xavier Ouellet from their minor-league affiliate in Grand Rapids. By clearing Andersson now the Wings could recall someone immediately should a circumstance arise in the near future.
And while Drew Miller is out for 4-6 months, the Wings at least have one extra forward, though Brad Richards is missing tonight’s game to be with his family for the funeral for his grandfather today. He’s expected to reunite with the Wings in time for Saturday’s home game against the Anaheim Ducks.
“Right now we have Nik Kronwall not available, so we have six healthy D and two healthy goalies,” Blashill said. “We don’t have an extra D or an extra goalie around. We have an extra forward when Richards is here. … It’s just a cap issue where we’re tight against the cap and we need the flexibility if – especially when Kronner’s out – if we need a defenseman to come up we might have to do something.”
Kronwall had arthroscopic knee surgery on Monday and could miss between 4-12 games.
Left Wing - DET
Goals: 14 | Assists: 13 | Pts: 27
Shots: 99 | +/-: -3
Wednesday night, Tomas Tatar
's streak of 162 straight games played came to an end because of illness. He said that he didn’t feel all that great after he woke from his afternoon nap, but still drove to Joe Louis Arena and tried to gut it out through pre-game warmups.
“Without energy I tried to go in the warmups, but couldn’t really move,” Tatar said. “I didn’t feel that I could do better than Joakim, so I felt it was a good decision to let him play.”
It was just the second time since become a full-time player for the Wings that Tatar missed a game. He missed the Wings’ game against the Rangers at Madison Square Gardens on Jan. 16, 2014 in order to attend his father’s funeral in Slovakia.
The Wings’ current ironman streak belongs to Gustav Nyquist, who currently stands at 172 straight games played.
“That was a huge thing when I was thinking about should I play or not,” Tatar said of his streak. “But then I started thinking more about the team than me, so I felt if I missed the game and somebody other than me played they would do a better job than I could do that night.”
rIGHT WING - DET
Goals: 3 | Assists: 8 | Pts: 11
Shots: 81 | +/-: -3
On four occasions this season, the Wings’ penalty kill has managed to string together three straight games without allowing a goal. Tonight they’re looking to make it three straight for a fifth time.
The PK has killed off eight consecutives chances, including a 5-on-3 for more than a minute and a half against Philadelphia on Sunday.
Obviously, the loss of Drew Miller for the season is a monumental blow to the special teams. His shot blocking and positioning makes him one of the league’s top PK players. But situations like these create opportunity for others to step up, which is what Blashill wants to see out of Darren Helm, Justin Abdelkader, Riley Sheahan, Dylan Larkin and others.
“I think the kills been real good here in the last couple games,” Blashill said. “We want Darren Helm to use his quickness as much as possible, including pressure up the ice. That’s something that we’d like to see him do. I think Abby’s been used a lot more here lately. He’s done a real good job. And then Larkin is somebody we didn’t use last game necessarily, but has been used a little bit and think he can do a good job. So it’s other guys getting more opportunity to do it and fill that void of Miller being out.”
With the speed that Helm and Larkin bring, Blashill isn’t opposed to them generating some shorthanded offense too.
Detroit and Arizona are the only teams without a shorthanded goal this season.
“One thing we haven’t done is score shorthanded, and we’d like to,” Blashill said. “We’d like to be a threat to score shorthanded. You can cheat for it but if you’re a threat to score shorthanded that can put a power play on their heels big time. It happened to us in Winnipeg when we gave up chances and ultimately got scored on shorthanded, puts your power play on their heels. So we’d like to be a threat that way for sure. We haven’t been so far this year, but certainly with Larkin, and if Helm’s getting up and pressuring, and Abby, it gives us a threat that way.”
Helm recorded the last shorthanded goal for the Wings. It came early in the third period of a 4-3 overtime loss at Montreal last April.