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Hurricanes claim ex-Wing Andrej Nestrasil off waivers

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Winnipeg, Manitoba — Andrej Nestrasil, a third-round pick of the Red Wings in 2009, is on the move.

The only problem is it's not within the organization.

Instead, Nestrasil was claimed by the Hurricanes on Thursday, one day after being placed on waivers by the Red Wings.

The move was needed to allow Stephen Weiss (groin) to come off the injured list. Weiss was assigned to Grand Rapids for a conditioning assignment.

Red Wings players, though disappointed with Nestrasil's departure, were happy he's remaining in the NHL.

Disappointed to see their friend go to another team, but happy to see Nestrasil will get another opportunity in the NHL.

"That's huge for him," forward Tomas Tatar said. "He deserves it. He's a great guy, a real hard worker. It's exciting.

"He was thankful to stay here after training camp, I don't think he expected it, but for his hard work and personality he deserved to be here. I'm real glad Detroit (and now Carolina) gave him a chance (to show) he can play in this league."

Nestrasil had two assists in 13 games with the Red Wings.

"I heard there were a whole bunch of teams that tried to claim him," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "If he were my own kid, I told him yesterday, it would be great for him to play a year in the American League and score goals like crazy.

"If he can fit in, help them and play every night, that'll be really good for him. He's a really good kid. We really liked him."

The Hurricanes, coached by former Red Wings assistant Bill Peters, must keep Nestrasil on their NHL roster a minimum of 30 days.

"Andrej is a young player with good size who we feel can contribute to our group of forwards," Hurricanes general manger Ron Francis said in a statement. "He has improved in each of his pro seasons and took a big step last year with Grand Rapids."

Ouellet back up

Xavier Ouellet was disappointed to be sent to Grand Rapids after performing well during the exhibition season, but the Red Wings didn't have any room on the roster.

So Ouellet went to the American League, and played well.

And when Brendan Smith (infected finger) was placed on the injured list for a week — he was hurt during a fight Tuesday in Columbus — Ouellet was promoted.

"Obviously my goal was to make the team," Ouellet said. "I was a little disappointed but it's part of the job. All I have to do is play hockey and take care of my game.

"They will decide where I am going to play."

For the next three games, that'll be in the NHL.

"I'm real excited," said Ouellet, who had five points (one goal) in 13 games with the Griffins. "I've been waiting for an opportunity and I guess I have it."

Said Babcock: "We just want him to play like he can. ... He seems to play like a veteran guy. He's under control."

Ouellet was a second-round pick (48th overall) of the Red Wings in 2011. He appeared in four games with Detroit last season and was called up for Game 5 of the first-round playoff series against Boston.

And, he was calm and didn't look out of place.

"It was a great experience for me," the 6-foot-1, 200-pound Ouellet said. "I realized at the end of the day it's the same hockey game."

Ice chips

Thursday's game against the Jets was a chance for Red Wings goaltender Petr Mrazek, who started, to go against longtime Czech Republic friend and teammate, Jets goaltender Ondrej Pavelec.

The two have been teammates on Czech national teams and are friends off the ice.

"We were talking yesterday for a bit when we got here a joking a little bit," Mrazek said. "But when the game starts, it's a game and I want to win."

Mrazek did just that, stopping 28 saves in his regular-season debut.

... Pavel Datsyuk (groin) skated on his own but remains day-to-day.

… Playing in front of family and friends in Winnipeg, Darren Helm was dominant in the face-off circle winning 13-of-14 (92.9 percent) draws.

…The Red Wings improved to 3-1-0 against Western Conference teams.

…Tatar extended his point streak to four games and has six points (four goals, two assists) in those games.

…Danny DeKeyser has a three game point streak, recording an assist in each of the games.