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There's no more talk about whether Gustav Nyquist will start the season in Detroit or Grand Rapids.

"I'm looking forward to my first full year with the Red Wings, that's going to be a lot of fun," said Nyquist, attempting to suppress a little smile. "To start off with the team right away, hopefully."

With a roster crowded with forwards and Nyquist with one minor league option remaining, the team sent him to Grand Rapids after camp last season.

He didn't mope, scoring seven goals in 15 games (21 points) before he was recalled as an injury fill-in.

And he didn't miss a beat with the Red Wings, scoring a team-high 28 goals in 57 games.

"Last year there were so many veterans who were hurt and a lot of guys got opportunities," Nyquist said. "I want to improve on last year. I can be better."

But finding choice scoring chances this season likely will not be as easy given opponents have a better understanding on how to play Nyquist. It'll be up to him to adjust.

"I don't know if he's going to score that many goals, but he's going to get that many points (48)," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "It's great he was able to get that many goals last year. But we're all about this year."

Knowing he'll be a marked man, Nyquist spent the summer attempting to get stronger. At 5-foot-11 and 185 pounds, Nyquist isn't a big player, but can get stronger.

"Of course I want to improve on some things," Nyquist said. "As a hockey player you feel you can always improve. I spent the summer working hard in the gym. I worked to get heavier on the puck and improve my shot."

Babcock has Nyquist and Abdelakder on a line with Stephen Weiss to open the season. Weiss missed most of last season with a sports hernia, but appears healthy and is skating well during training camp.

Weiss' playmaking ability could mix well with Nyquist's nose for scoring.

"The big thing for us as a team is, we're excited because everyone seems to be healthy," Nyquist said. "Last year, you never knew who was going to be in the lineup."

Position battles

What this time of year offers for hockey players is an opportunity to win a job.

"We'll just watch them," Babcock said. "It might not be the same teams but probably the same guys in our first four (exhibitions) and we'll go from there. There's good opportunity for them."

Of particular interest:

■The continued development of young defensemen Mattias Backman, Alexey Marchenko, Xavier Ouellet and Ryan Sproul, all of whom are hoping to land in the NHL.

■The battle among the forwards, where there are more players than positions available.

"Let's get out there and play and let's see," Babcock said. "I want to watch and see what they can do."

The group heading to Chicago for Tuesday night's exhibition will go through a typical morning skate while the group that played Monday in Pittsburgh will return to Traverse City and go through a full-length practice.

Nothing guaranteed

Luke Glendening found a home on the fourth line toward the end of last season, but he's fighting to keep that spot.

Glendening's agitating ways, grit and energy are positives, but one goal (seven points) in 56 games is a concern.

"You can't stay in the lineup and score one goal a year," Glendening said. "I'm going to be battling for a spot all year."

An undrafted free agent, Glendening (East Grand Rapids/Michigan) signed a three-year deal worth $1.89 million last season.

Ice chips

One area defenseman Danny DeKeyser wants to improve is his offense.

"I can add more offense," said DeKeyser, who had 23 points (four goals) in 65 games last season. "I just try to keep improving every year."

... The Red Wings roster stands at 55 after the team returned forwards Tyler Bertuzzi, Zach Nastasiuk, Dominic Turgeon and defensemen Marc McNulty and Mitchell Wheaton to their respective junior teams.

The Red Wings also released forwards Blake Clarke, Hayden Hodgson, Darby Llewellyn, Brandon Robinson and Jerome Verrier, defenseman Ty Stanton and goaltender Lucas Peressini.

ted.kulfan@detroitnews.com

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