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Red Wings rookie Ouellet impressive in brief stint

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Detroit — It's a small sample, two games last week, on top of the five games Xavier Ouellet played in the NHL last season.

But Ouellet, in this brief appearance, sure looks as if he's ready for the NHL.

Ouellet, 21, was called up from Grand Rapids when Brendan Smith (infected hand) was placed on the seven-day injured reserve list.

In two games, Ouellet looked every bit the prized prospect the Red Wings thought he was.

"He's a good hockey player," coach Mike Babcock said. "He plays like a veteran."

That was the thing scouts talked about regarding Ouellet (2011 second-round draft pick) coming out of juniors, and then last season in Grand Rapids.

Ouellet is a young player, but he had the poise and look of a player who has been in the NHL for years.

And there were glimpses of that in the two games last week.

If he made a mistake, Ouellet quickly shook it off. He found a wide-open Tomas Tatar for a goal Saturday against Toronto. Ouellet is physical when needs to be. Defensively, he rarely is in the wrong place.

Or, another popular scouting report on Ouellet: He doesn't do any one thing outstanding — but he's very good in every aspect.

"X looks great," defenseman Niklas Kronwall said. "He makes the right plays, he's in the right position. He looks like a veteran out there."

One of those five games Ouellet appeared in last season was Game 5 of the first-round playoff series against Boston, replacing Jakub Kindl in the lineup (which Ouellet has done similarly these past two games).

Unless the Red Wings can trade a defenseman or someone else gets hurt, Ouellet will return to Grand Rapids.

But you get the impression he isn't going to be a Grand Rapids Griffin for long.

"He's a smart defenseman who sees the ice real well," Henrik Zetterberg said. "He's an NHL player."

Alfredsson update

The Ottawa Senators, the team with which Daniel Alfredsson starred for 17 seasons, will be at Joe Louis Arena Monday but it's unlikely Alfredsson will announce his retirement just yet.

More likely in December, with the announcement coming in Ottawa, where Alfredsson's popularity remains huge.

The Red Wings have felt for a long time Alfredsson, who turns 42 on Dec. 11, will retire this season after stopping skating shortly after Labor Day because of back pain.

But teammates and coaches appreciated the year they shared with Alfredsson last season.

"Alfie's a great, great man," Babcock said. "We acquired him to help our team. He had an injury (most of the season) and didn't skate (as much in practice), but he was our leading scorer.

"He's a good man in the room, knows how to play in key situations. He's been a great Ottawa Senator, he had a great NHL career. It's always disappointing to (a player) when it ends."

Ice chips

Stephen Weiss had a goal in each of the two games he played in Grand Rapids on a conditioning assignment.

Weiss will return to the Red Wings and be eligible to play today.

… What aggravated the Wings most about Saturday's 4-1 loss in Toronto were two turnovers in the third period that led to Maple Leafs goals.

The Red Wings felt they gave the game away after putting themselves in position to come away with a victory.

"We played good for two periods, then we gave the game away with turnovers," Zetterberg said. "Both their late goals, we turned the puck over, and (there) were odd-man rushes or breakaways (going the other way)."

Pavel Datsyuk (groin) skated Saturday but he remains day-to-day. Datsyuk has missed the last three games.

Senators at Red Wings


7:30 Monday, Joe Louis Arena, Detroit


FSD/97.1, 1270


Ottawa won the only meeting thus far this season (Nov. 4), 3-1. … Senators G Craig Anderson is second in save percentage (.935). … D Erik Karlsson (9 assists, 14 points) remains among the elite in the game.