Detroit – Looking for scoring, the Red Wings will return Tomas Tatar (virus) to the lineup Friday night against the Sabres, and they announced they are seeking waivers on defensive forward Joakim Andersson.
The move on Andersson clears cap space, and opens up some possibilities, including calling up a high-scoring forward from Grand Rapids, or to fill the slot if a seventh defenseman is needed while Niklas Kronwall recovers from what was expected to be minor knee surgery.
Tatar was active during Friday’s morning skate in First Niagara Arena and chipper in the dressing room.
He is third on the team in points, with 27, three behind Dylan Larkin and four behind Henrik Zetterberg, having scored 14 goals and assisted on 13 in 45 of the Wings’ 46 games.
“Feeling better,” Tatar said.
Of the flu bug, he said, “Yeah, I don’t know. It felt weird.”
He sounded confident notes about the Red Wings’ lack of scoring: “We know we’re in the right process. We know we’re in the right frame (of mind). If we keep doing what we’re doing, it’s going to turn around.”
Andersson has appeared in 25 games, and his goal and two assists in that time may be the ultimate sticking point for him, in terms of progressing as a Red Wings player. But the Wings have long been satisfied with his defense and performance as a penalty killer, although winning faceoffs while short-handed has sometimes been an issue.
Regardless, even with ace penalty killer Drew Miller out of the lineup, likely for the season, it may be that the search for scoring forced the Wings to review Andersson’s status.
Coach Jeff Blashill also mentioned that with Kronwall out, there may be a need to clear cap space to recall a defensemen.
General Manager Ken Holland said the space is required if the Wings want to call up a scoring threat from Grand Rapids. But Holland said the Wings will make that decision on Saturday, by noon, the deadline for Andersson to clear waivers.
“Basically, he’s going on waivers to create cap flexibility,” Holland said.
“I think, with having guys like (Eric) Tangradi and (Andreas) Athanasiou and (Tomas) Nosek, (Anthony) Mantha, (Tyler) Bertuzzi, (Andy) Miele, there are one or two others – certainly there are a lot of players down there that are doing well, in Grand Rapids.
“So, we’ll see what happens tomorrow at noon. It’s our call; we can do whatever we want once a player clears waivers.”
It seems highly likely the Wings would not have contemplated the move had they not had an interest in bringing up a scorer, and if they had not been impressed enough with Nosek’s penalty killing during a brief stint in Detroit, earlier this season, to determine he could kill penalties in the NHL.
The Wings saw Landon Ferraro claimed off waivers by the Bruins earlier in the season. Ferraro is now averaging 12:22 of ice time with the Bruins, through 26 games, up three minutes per game from his time on ice with the Wings in 10 games.