|Red Wings right wing Aaron Downey tangles with Tampa Bay's Andre Roy during a preseason game at the St. Pete Times Forum on Sept. 24 (Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/Getty Images) |
– The Red Wings finalized their roster on Monday, making an offer to journeyman Aaron Downey and sending rookie Igor Grigorenko to the minors.
The team’s 23-man roster that they will carry into the season-opener against the Stanley Cup-defending Anaheim Ducks on Wednesday at Joe Louis Arena is now set.
Perhaps the biggest surprise to make the Wings’ roster is Downey, who can add a degree of physical play to a line-up. Downey, who has appeared in 183 games in seven previous NHL seasons, was invited to the Wings’ training camp on a try-out basis.
“It’s pretty exciting right now to be offered a two-way deal by the Detroit Red Wings,” Downey said. “Being around the game as long as I have, I understand the situation. But there’s an opportunity and it’s a tremendous feeling right now.”
Known more as a fighter, Downey has amassed 371 penalty-minutes in his NHL career, including 48-minutes in 21 games with Montreal last season. He’s also had NHL stints in Boston, Chicago, Dallas and St. Louis.
“We feel that he has brought a lot of positive dimensions to our team as far as being a good person, positive attitude, work ethic, the commitment to the guys,” coach Mike Babcock said. “We’ll see what he can bring us.”
The Wings offered Downey a two-way contract, which means that he can be sent down to the Red Wings’ minor league affiliate in Grand Rapids at anytime without having to clear waivers.
“In some ways it’s kind of good to have a two-way because it keep you on your toes,” Downey said. “Kind of makes you work harder every day, not that I wasn’t gonna, but you’re on edge every day and you want to carry that positive energy every day around the guys.”
Left wing Matt Ellis and defenseman Derek Meech – both guys who spent most of last season in Grand Rapids -- were also placed on the roster.
Meanwhile, defenseman Kyle Quincey
(fractured hand) was placed on IR, Grigorenko was sent to Grand Rapids, and veteran center Mark Hartigan was placed on waivers.
Babcock said he liked what he saw in Hartigan, who split time between Columbus and Anaheim last season.
“He will have to clear waivers before he could play in Grand Rapids,” Babcock said. “We liked what we saw, we just didn’t think that he edged out the people we have.”
The Wings have been impressed with Grigorenko, but starting the season out in Grand Rapids will only help the 24-year-old from Campckar, Russia.
“We really like him,” Babcock said. “We want him to play for our NHL team. So we have to find a way to help him be the best player that he can be as quickly as possible. One, he could stay here and practice and not get in. Or the way we liked better is him actually playing and getting back here and getting his pace, and getting his game so he could come back here and help. There’s no good in just sitting here.
“Now he has to get his mind around that and embrace that idea, or else you don’t get better. Right? Otherwise, it’s just a waste of time.”