Detroit – Most people think of Joakim Andersson as more of a defensive forward these days, someone on the fourth line who is accountable and gives a professional effort.
But that would be forgetting that during the 2013 playoffs, Andersson was a third-line center between Gustav Nyquist and Damien Brunner and creating much-needed offense in a series win over Anahiem, before Detroit lost in seven games to Chicago.
When he’s on the ice with offensive-minded players, Andersson doesn’t look out place.
“He’s an elite passer of the puck, he doesn’t enough credit for that,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “He has the ability to pass it in tight quarters. When he is given the opportunity to play with skilled players, he can put pucks into areas for them to be successful.”
It’s been a whirlwind of a season for Andersson, who was demoted to Grand Rapids midway in the season after falling out of the playing rotation, then called up the last weekend of the regular season and kept for the playoffs in place of prospect Anthony Mantha.
The Red Wings valued Andersson’s defense and penalty killing, his overall game much more varied than Mantha’s at this point in their careers.
Andersson didn’t take the trip to Grand Rapids as an entirely bad thing.
“I wanted to play in the NHL but I needed to play hockey,” said Andersson, who wasn’t getting that opportunity with the Red Wings. “I was in and out and when I played I didn’t play a lot of minutes. To be able to come back and be successful now, I needed those games (in Grand Rapids) to get my legs going. It’s tough when you’re not playing during the season. You don’t get a lot of practices with the team and you have to do it (conditioning) on your own.
“I needed those games to be able to touch the puck.”
Andersson was able to play center with the Griffins, which polished an offensive game that disappeared with the Red Wings.
“When I’m in the middle, I think, I’m a lot better in the middle than when I’m on the wing,” Andersson said. “That helped me.”
Playing with Andreas Athanasiou and Tomas Tatar, two skilled players similar to Nyquist and Brunner in 2013, Andersson gets a chance to showcase his offense.
“I’ve played a more simple game the last couple of years,” Andersson said. “But I know I have that passing ability in me.”