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By the Numbers: Luke Witkowski

Former Bronco brought versatility and toughness to Red Wings lineup

by Arthur J. Regner @ArthurJRegner /

By the Numbers will highlight the Red Wings' on-ice accomplishments in the 2017-18 season. Each week during the offseason, By the Numbers will profile a different player on the team, focusing on his statistical highs. This week we focus on forward/defenseman Luke Witkowski.

It may not have sent much of a ripple across the NHL when Detroit signed Luke Witkowski as an unrestricted free agent last July, but the Red Wings were pleased to bring the Holland, Mich. native into the fold.

Dating back to his days at Western Michigan, Witkowski's abrasive style endeared him to the Broncos head coach at the time, Jeff Blashill, as well as to his WMU teammate/roommate, current Detroit defenseman Danny DeKeyser.

Blashill was instrumental in bringing Witkowski to the Wings because he recognized the 6-foot-2, 210-pound forward/defenseman would add toughness and pugilistic skills to a Detroit roster which was lacking in both.

DeKeyser was thrilled to again be teammates with his close friend whom he knew would have little problem assimilating himself into the Detroit dressing room.

Originally drafted as a forward by Tampa Bay in the sixth round, 160th overall, in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, Witkowski's physical style was a key reason the Lightning moved him to defense for a stretch during the 2014-15 season when Tampa Bay's defensive corps was ravaged by injuries.

Primarily a forward, Witkowski has played wing and defense during his NHL career and on occasion, he's played both positions in the same game.

That versatility, coupled with his fearlessness and community spirit, has given Detroit a player who is admired by his teammates for his character on and off the ice.

Next season will be the final year of Witkowski's two-year, $1.5 million deal with the Wings.

31 - Total number of games Witkowski appeared in during his first season with the Red Wings.

1 - Witkowski scored his first NHL goal on February 17 against the Predators in Nashville. Witkowski's father, John, was there as the team was on the dads and mentors trip.

4 - Total number of points Witkowski accumulated last season. That matched his point total from the 2016-17 season when he was with the Lightning.

68 - His 68 penalty minutes ranked second on the Red Wings. Justin Abdelkader led Detroit in penalty minutes with 78.

6 - Fighting majors Witkowski had last season, which led Detroit.

6:53 - Average ice time per game for Witkowski. His highest ice time for the season was 13:57 against Nashville, which was also the same game he scored his first NHL goal.

27 - On November 15 at Little Caesars Arena against the Calgary Flames, Witkowski was assessed 27 penalty minutes, which was the highest single-game total for a Wings player since 2008.

10 - Witkowski was being escorted to the Wings bench after a third period brawl between the Wings and Flames on November 15. Once he was off the ice and heading toward the dressing room, Witkowski was slashed in the ankles by Calgary's Matthew Tkachuk. Witkowski immediately returned to the ice to confront Tkachuk and his actions resulted in an automatic 10-game suspension. Tkachuk was issued a one-game suspension for unsportsmanlike conduct.

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