DETROIT — The Red Wings are his fourth different NHL teams in five seasons but Kevin Porter hopes to settle down in a familiar area.
A native of Northville, Mich., Porter signed a one-year, two-way contract with the Wings on July 1, 2014. It is a homecoming of sorts for the forward who also spent his college years at the University of Michigan, winning the Hobey Baker Award as the top collegiate player in the NCAA in 2007-08.
“A lot of family and friends (will be) here,” Porter said. “Obviously (it is) the hometown, so (I will) get a little bit nervous, haven’t played games in a while.”
Porter hasn’t played in a regular-season NHL game since last December owhen he played for the Buffalo Sabres. A return to Detroit tonight playing in front of familiar fans is something that will be special for the 28-year-old.
Tonight will be Porter’s third preseason game with the Wings and will play the wing opposite of Mitch Callahan on the Stephen Weiss-centered third line. Porter is averaging 15:25 of ice time through his two preseason games. He has no points with a minus-1 rating.
“(I have) played with a few different guys obviously mix up the lines a bunch,” he said. “I Played with Luke Glendening and he’s a hard working center, easy to play with. I played with Weisser and (he is a) skilled forward and good in his own end, also easy to play with. All the guys here are great, everyone is trying to make the team and work hard.”
With the flexibility of a two-way contract, the team has the option to send Porter to AHL Grand Rapids without worry of having to clear waivers before he's reassigned. He, like many others, would like to remain in Detroit for the start of the season but said it’s not something he worries about.
“I’m not trying to think about that," Porter said. "I’m just trying to play my best and work hard and not do anything too fancy and keep it simple.”
During the 2010-11 season, Porter played in 74 games for the Colorado Avalanche, scoring 14 goals and 25 points. He has played in 206 NHL games since 2008, having also played for the then-Phoenix Coyotes.
IN THE LINEUP: Forwards Joakim Andersson, Tomas Nosek and Andrej Nestrasil will dress tonight against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Nosek and Nestrasil are tied for the team lead in preseason points with one goal and two points in two games apiece. Andersson will center the second line with Drew Miller and Daniel Cleary while Nosek and Nestrasil will skate on the fourth line with Justin Abdelkader.