DETROIT – Like so many young players on the Red Wings’ depth chart, this season will be pivotal for Joakim Andersson, who is entering the final year of a two-year contract.
“I have to have a good year here,” Andersson said Friday. “I didn’t finish very good last year, so this is the year that I really have to establish myself as a good NHL player.”
A former 20-goal scorer in the American Hockey League, Andersson’s offensive productivity was stunted by an ankle injury, which led to him losing his job as a fourth-line center to Luke Glendening late in the regular season.
Andersson finished with eight goals and 17 points while playing a bottom-six role in 65 games – his first full NHL season. But the 25-year-old Swede struggled through the final month and finished the playoffs the left wing on the third line.
But after a very good summer – one that he committed himself to getting stronger physically – Andersson feels better prepared to battle for his role on the roster.
“You have to play good to stay in the lineup,” he said. “Unfortunately I lost my spot a little bit late in the season with those injuries and stuff. But if you play good you get your spot. It’s just not for the first game; you’ll probably have to do it all during the year.
“We have a lot of good forwards here and young guys coming up too. So you have to keep improving yourself and prove to the coaches that you should be in the lineup.”
Andersson has been a solid penalty killer and very good in the face-off circle, finishing third among Red Wings’ centers winning more than 51 percent of the draws he took last season.
Andersson has played in two of the Wings’ preseason games, centering the fourth line between Daniel Cleary and Drew Miller. Cleary, Glendening and Tomas Jurco are among the forwards believed to be Andersson’s competition.
“The way I look at this is it’s a competitive situation and at the end there, Glenny ended up taking his spot,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said about Andersson. “He moved from the wing. He’s skating great, he’s way lighter, he’s very fit. … He’s healthy, he’s playing good. We’re expecting a lot from him.”
And Andersson is expected a lot out of himself.
“I feel a lot more energized now and I feel like I’m skating better,” Adersson said. “I feel lighter, more power in my legs and that’s a big thing from the second half of last year. I have to keep getting better at everything.
“I want the puck more, breaking out of the zone. That’s what I used to do and I got away from that a little bit last year. I have to get back to that. I want the puck all of the time, be the guy in the middle who feeds the wingers with the pucks.”
|Mitch Callahan |
TOUGH DECISIONS: Forwards Mitch Callahan and Landon Ferraro are two prospects who are out of minor-league options and must clear waivers before they can be assigned to AHL Grand Rapids if they not make the Red Wings’ roster.
A gritty, agitating fourth-line forward, Callahan made huge offensive strides with the Griffins last season, producing 26 goals and 44 points in 70 games.
The 23-year-old California native is hoping to make a big enough impression in the ice time that he does get this preseason. He collected three hits while skating with Glendening and Kevin Porter in Tuesday’s 2-1 overtime loss at Chicago.
“I don’t know where I’m going to end up this year,” Callahan said. “It could be here, it could be Grand Rapids, or a possible waiver claim. But right now I’m feeling pretty good. I have a great chemistry with Glendening and Porter. Playing that one game kinda got my feet wet a little bit (and) I’m excited for a few more.”
STAY LOOSE: The 45-minute delay that pushed back the start to Thursday’s preseason game at Joe Louis Arena presented an unusual situation for Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard.
Mechanical failure to their team jet made the Chicago Blackhawks nearly three hours late.
“The way everything unfolded with Chicago having mechanical issues and not getting here until 7:40, I got warmed up and cool off about three times during that time stretch,” Howard said. “I guess now I know what a starting pitcher goes through when they have a rain delay.”
Howard played the whole game, stopping 26 of 28 shots while helping the Wings to a 3-2 victory.
“That was unique circumstances last night,” he said.
|Pavel Datsyuk |
INJURY UPDATES: Center Pavel Datsyuk (right shoulder) skated on his own Friday morning. The Russian star is expected to miss up to six games at the start of the regular season, which begins Oct. 9.
Darren Helm, who suffered a broken nose and received stitches to his left cheek Monday in Pittsburgh, skated Friday at Joe Louis Arena. However, the speedy forward did not participate in line rushes.
“We’re just getting him checked out to see what’s going on there,” Babcock said.
Rookie defenseman Ryan Sproul skated Friday for the first time since injuring his left shoulder in the preseason opener in Pittsburgh.