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Downey, Ericsson recalled from Griffins

by Michael Caples / Detroit Red Wings
DETROIT -- Red Wings prospect Jonathan Ericsson received quite a birthday present on Monday.

Ericsson, who turns 25 today, and Aaron Downey have been called up from the Wings’ AHL affiliate in Grand Rapids.

Forwards Ville Leino and Darren Helm have been sent back down to the AHL level.

Ericsson, who was selected in the ninth round in 2002, is one of the Red Wings’ top prospects. Last season, he played in eight games with the Wings, where he collected one goal and four penalty minutes. He recorded his first NHL goal on Feb. 26, 2008 at Edmonton. 

Coach Mike Babcock said the coaching staff has been anxious to get Ericsson up to the NHL roster, but injuries kept him from seeing action sooner.

“It’s a good opportunity with us, we’ve been waiting for this opportunity since the start," Babcock said. "He wasn’t healthy, he was hurt, so this is an opportunity. Nothing's for sure, but for him he will play three games.”

When asked what he liked about Ericsson, Babcock was short and to the point.

“He’s 6-5," he said. "He moves the puck, he skates good, he’s brave. Did I mention he’s 6-foot-5?”

A native of Karlskrona, Sweden, Ericsson has two goals and 13 assists, and is plus-12 in 40 games with the Griffins this season.

Nicklas Lidstrom said that Ericsson shows a lot of potential, and that he has excelled in his prior opportunities. 

“Well he’s a big man, he’s got good reach, he’s a strong skater, he can really shoot the puck," the Wings captain said. "He got a chance to play a little bit last season, and I thought he played well for us … using his size to his advantage, and you’ve got to be skating all the time, and I think he did that for us.”

Lidstrom said that it might take a while for Ericsson to adjust, however.

“He knows the system, he knows how we’re playing, but I think it will take some time to get used to his surroundings again," Lidstrom said. "Some of his teammates that he hasn’t skated with for a few months now, so I think that will take some time, but he knows the system and that really helps.”

After spending the entire 2007-08 season with the Red Wings, Downey, 34, is making his second trip to Detroit this season. He has skated in one game with the Wings, playing against Dallas on Jan. 29.  He picked up one penalty on 4:41 worth of ice time.

Last season, Downey played in 56 games, where he recorded three assists and 116 penalty minutes.  In 240 NHL games, the Shelburne, Ontario native has 7 goals and 9 assists, with 489 penalty minutes.

Leino, who was called up from Grand Rapids on Jan. 30, registered five goals, four assists and was a plus-5 in 13 games. His first-period tally against San Jose on Feb. 25 was his first career game-winner.

Helm has been called up to Detroit three times this season, the most recent on Feb. 4. In 16 games with the Wings, Helm has one assist.

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