Ryan Sproul could feel pinch on crowded Red Wings' blue line

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News
Defenseman Ryan Sproul had a goal and six assists in 27 games with the Red Wings last season.

Detroit — There’s time to sort things out, and given the nature of training camp and the exhibition games, injuries are bound to happen.

But as the Red Wings prepare to open training camp Friday, there appear to be one too many defensemen.

General manager Ken Holland said this summer the plan is to carry seven — which could leave a young defenseman like Ryan Sproul in danger of not making the roster.

With Trevor Daley, Danny DeKeyser, Jonathan Ericsson, Mike Green, Nick Jensen, Niklas Kronwall and Xavier Ouellet seemingly secure of spots, Sproul could be the odd man out.

Sproul, 24, saw his season ended in early March when he suffered a knee injury that ultimately needed surgery.

Whether Sproul will be ready to begin the regular season Oct. 5 remains to be seen.
In 27 games last season, Sproul had a goal and six assists with a minus-8 rating.

More: 10 key Red Wings issues as training camp nears

Sproul displayed a hard shot from the point and showed the ability to initiate offense from the backend.

But, as was the case in the minor leagues, Sproul had struggles defensively, and his indecisiveness at times caused him problems at both ends of the ice.

With the Red Wings still hampered being over the $75 million salary cap by approximately $3 million — and restricted free agent Andreas Athanasiou unsigned and threatening to play in Russia — Sproul could be waived (or maybe traded) to loosen the logjam on defense, and help get under the salary cap.

If they were to lose Sproul, the Red Wings would still have defensive depth in the form of Luke Witkowski (Holland/Western Michigan), who can play both forward and defense.

Camp commences 

The Red Wings take their physicals Thursday morning, then participate in the annual training camp golf outing, which benefits charities in Traverse City.

And, then, hockey season truly begins.

They’ll take the ice Friday for workouts, with three sets of teams working out through Sunday. The annual Red-White scrimmage will end camp Monday at Centre Ice Arena.

More: Athanasiou, Red Wings still without a deal

The Red Wings travel Tuesday to Boston for their first of eight exhibition games.

Ice chips

Athanasiou remains unsigned, with clock ticking toward the start of training camp. The Red Wings are reportedly offering a two-year contract at just under $4 million total, while Russian teams in the Kontinental Hockey League are reportedly offering $3 million (or more) on a one-year contract.

… Veteran forwards David Booth (Washington Township/Michigan State) and PA Parenteau will attend camp on professional tryouts.

… Tomas Tatar (shoulder), Jonathan Ericsson (wrist) and Luke Glendening (ankle) all had late-, or offseason surgeries, but are expected to start the regular season.