Wings waive Drew Miller, welcome back Niklas Kronwall

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News
Luke Glendening of the Detroit Red Wings tries to get around the stick of  Derek Stepan of the New York Rangers during the second period Sunday.

Detroit – The Red Wings said hello to one veteran Sunday, as defenseman Niklas Kronwall returned from injury, but that made it necessary to say goodbye to another.

Forward Drew Miller was put on waivers and has until noon Monday to be claimed by another team.

If he's not, Miller, 32, can be sent to minor league affiliate Grand Rapids.

One of the Red Wings’ better penalty killers and defensive forwards since arriving in 2009 on waivers from Tampa, Miller had five goals and one assist in 34 games this season, with a minus-10 plus-minus rating.

“Drew wants to play, so here’s an opportunity, potentially, if there’s another suitor out there where he can play,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “There are some young assets that we have here that there’s still potential.”

One would be forward Tomas Jurco, who the Red Wings decided to keep over Miller.

Jurco, 24, has only played in 11 games without registering a point and has a minus-3 rating. Jurco has also been a healthy scratch for the last nine games.

Red Wings fall in OT, surrender another valuable point

Interestingly, because of an injury to Thomas Vanek (lower body) Sunday, there’s a scenario where Miller could easily return to the Red Wings roster if he goes unclaimed by another team.

Blashill said a more precise update on Vanek will be known Monday.

“I’ve gots tons of confidence in Drew Miller as a hockey player,” Blashill said. “I’d play him tomorrow and I’d feel real confident with him in the lineup.

“We have a lot of good players here and we’ve got too many players to go around right now, so we have to make some decisions.”

Vanek injury

Vanek appeared to get hit by an Andreas Athanasiou shot near the groin/leg area late in the first period and didn’t return.

Blashill didn’t have an update, but didn’t feel the injury would be long term.

There are only two games this week before the All-Star break begins Thursday.

Vanek, 33, is tied for the team lead with 12 goals and 31 points.

“He started the game great,” said Blashill of Vanek, who had one of the Red Wings’ best scoring chances in the first period. “Had a great first period. He’s one of our real dynamic offensive guys and you lose a little bit of offensive punch (without him).”

Said Kronwall: “He’s a big part of our team. He’s been putting up numbers. That was a big loss.”

Kronwall's return

Kronwall had missed the last eight games with a groin injury, but was activated in time for Sunday’s game.

Kronwall played just over 16 minutes on 21 shifts, was credited with one shot and one blocked shot.

“I felt decent out there,” Kronwall said. “There are still timing issues when you’ve been out for a bit, but overall I felt good.”

Said Blashill: “He (Kronwall) did a good job. He’s been out for a bit, so he’ll continue to get better as he gets going.”

Kronwall was mainly paired with Nick Jensen against the Rangers.

Ice chips

The Red Wings extended their point streak to five games (3-0-2), matching their second-longest streak of the season (3-0-2 from Nov. 23-Dec. 1).

…Goaltender Jared Coreau has not lost in regulation since his NHL debut Dec. 3 in Pittsburgh. Coreau is 5-0-2 during that span.

…The Red Wings controlled the faceoff circle (37-30 edge), with Luke Glendening dominating, winning 11 of 12 faceoffs.

…The Red Wings have taken three of four points against the Rangers (1-0-1) this season and have now earned points in 21 of their last 25 gmes against the Rangers (16-4-5 since 1998-99). @tkulfan