Detroit —The home stretch for jobs on the final Red Wings roster has begun.
Teams must submit their salary cap compliant final rosters by 5 p.m. Tuesday.
The Red Wings potentially have several forward spots that are fluid, as the final days of the preseason approach.
With restricted free agent Andreas Athanasiou still unsigned, and Tyler Bertuzzi (wrist) injured and unavailable for the next month, and the 13th (extra) forward probably up for grabs, the Red Wings could have two or three positions open.
Martin Frk increasingly looks as if he’s made the team, judging from coach Jeff Blashill’s comments Thursday, but players like veterans David Booth and PA Parenteau — both in camp on professional tryouts — and Luke Witkowski, and potentially Grand Rapids Griffins who can fill roles, all can make final impressions in the next few days.
“Right now, we’re looking to see how we can put our best team together,” Blashill said. “If those guys can make our team better, than they’re going to be on our team. There’s opportunity there, so let’s go out and grab it.”
Frk has pretty much gone and grabbed a spot alongside Dylan Larkin and Anthony Mantha, thanks to Athanasiou being out of camp.
“Marty Frk has done a good job of saying ‘I want to be that winger with Larkin and Mantha,’ ” Blashill said. “Frk has done a good job and he gets another chance to do it (Friday). Every time you’re on the ice, you get a chance to make a statement one way or another.
“Hopefully he makes a real big statement.”
Parenteau is more of an offensive threat, a specialist who could ignite the power play, while Booth brings offense, size and speed into the lineup. Witkowski is a physical presence who also could play defense, and injects energy onto the fourth line.
“You have to find a way to make yourself important to a team,” Blashill said.
Shaking the rust off
Defenseman Niklas Kronwall (back) and forward Justin Abdelkader (groin) were expected to see their first game action Thursday, after having worked through nagging preseason injuries.
“It’s been quite a few months since I played in a game,” Kronwall said. “It’ll be nice to put the jersey on and get back to work.”
How many games, or how much work a veteran player needs in the preseason to get ready for the regular season varies, Blashill said.
“It’s where you’re at in your career,” Blashill said. “Some guys need one game, some guys need five games. It’s a little bit with chemistry. (Henrik) Zetterberg, for example, he’s played a lot with (Tomas) Tatar and (Gustav) Nyquist, so they don’t need a lot of (time together); they’ve played together. But you bring in new guys, they need a little more time together.
“We’ve had a lot of opportunity to practice as a team, a decent amount the way we’ve structured our scrimmage lineups, and we’ve been able to practice as a team. The biggest thing is to hit the ground running (for the Oct. 5 season opener).”
Blashill said defenseman Nick Jensen (right thumb) would continue to skate and practice but not play in any games leading into the regular season opener.
… Evgeny Svechnikov (upper body) will be held out of this weekend’s games.
…The Red Wings will play close to a full lineup Friday in their last home exhibition game against Toronto.
Maple Leafs at Red Wings
Faceoff: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Little Caesars Arena, Detroit
TV/radio: FSD-Plus/WWJ-950 AM
Outlook: The first of back-to-back series with Toronto (Saturday is in Toronto) to close out the preseason.