'Big loss': Red Wings' Ericsson out for season

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Columbus, Ohio — This particular hit to the Red Wings’ lineup was a costly one.

In a season that has seen plenty of key injuries along the way, the Red Wings learned that Friday defenseman Jonathan Ericsson would be lost for the rest of the season.

Ericsson fractured his right wrist in Thursday’s 6-3 loss to Washington.

General manager Ken Holland said Ericsson will have surgery next week and miss up to 12 weeks — which is lengthier than the original prognosis after the game of approximately six to eight weeks.

“Losing Johnny is a big loss,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “I’ve said a lot, he’s 6-foot-5, can skate, and play against the other team’s very best. He can be out there against (Evgeni) Malkin, be out there against (Ryan) Getzlaf, be out there against (Alex) Ovechkin, all because of his physical assets, and that’ll be lost.”

Ericsson had one goal and eight assists in 51 games, with a minus-2 rating, while playing more than 19 minutes per game (19:13).

“This is part of the world we live in, and you have other guys who have to step up,” Blashill said. “The positive thing is, we have a number of guys who are good NHL players at the defensive position and we’ll have to rely on our depth.”

Young defensemen such as Nick Jensen, Xavier Ouellet and Ryan Sproul — all of whom have gotten quality ice time this season — will gain a bit more with Ericsson out.

“Jensen spent a lot of time (in Washington) against some high end guys, Xavier Ouellet has for sure, against some high end guys,” Blashill said. “They’ll continue to get their opportunities agaisnt those guys.”

The Red Wings might get some help back on defense as Niklas Kronwall (lower body) practiced again Friday and appears close to returning this weekend.

“I’ve been feeling pretty good,” Kronwall said. “Barring any setback, I’m hoping to be available this weekend.”

But Kronwall admits losing Ericsson is a hole, on this team, that’ll be difficult to fill.

“He’s a matchup guy who goes up against the best every night,” Kronwall said. “That’s something he’s been doing real well for us all year.”

Ice chips

Ouellet was a healthy scratch against Washington, after his recent play dipped, in Blashill’s estimation.

“I just thought he’s played good this year (but) his game had dipped just a little bit and I want his game to get back to the high level it was a month ago,” Blashill said. “It hasn’t been a big dip, just a little dip. I just know he hasn’t played quite as sharp as he did a month ago

“The other part is, it’s highly competitive. We have a guy in (Ryan) Sproul who has shown some good signs as well, sitting out, so it’s highly competitive, and to stay in you have to play great.”

... Blashill said forward Frans Nielsen (shoulder) could be available for one of the games this weekend. Nielsen skated with approximately half the team in an optional skate Friday at the Nationwide Arena practice rink.

Red Wings at Blue Jackets

Faceoff: 5 Saturday, Nationwide Arena, Columbus

TV/radio: FSD/97.1

Outlook: Columbus defeated Detroit, 3-2 in overtime, last week. That was the Blue Jackets’ second consecutive win over the Red Wings this season. ... Blue Jackets D Zach Werenski (Grosse Pointe/UM) is one of the best rookies in the NHL.