Detroit — They certainly showed they aren’t far from being NHL players — if not already.
But there simply isn’t room on the Red Wings’ roster currently, so defenseman Joe Hicketts and forward Dominic Turgeon were Tuesday assigned back to Grand Rapids.
The Red Wings activated forward Luke Glendening, who had been out since Dec. 20 with a wrist injury.
“He was a big piece of us, certainly our penalty kill,” said coach Jeff Blashill, of what Glendening’s return means. “At times it’s been top 10 in the league, but it hasn’t been very good lately. Certainly part of that is you lose your penalty killers (Justin Abdelkader, Darren Helm, Trevor Daley also are out).
“He’s (Glendening) an excellent penalty killer. I won’t overplay him (Tuesday), it’s been a while since he played. Once he gets going, he’s a great matchup guy and goes against the other team’s best players.
“He plays to the identity of what we want to be, a pressure, fast team. He plays fast because of how hard he works.”
Blashill indicated Glendening would start on the fourth line, where Turgeon was playing, centering David Booth and Luke Witkowski.
There are two primary reasons for Hicketts and Turgeon returning to the minor leagues.
One, when Glendening was activated, the Red Wings needed two players to offset Glendening’s $1.8 million salary cap hit.
Also, Blashill didn’t want to play 11 forwards and seven defensemen against Philadelphia — Blashill preferred the 12-6 lineup, especially in back-to-back game situations — so Hicketts, on defense, became an extra.
But Blashill was quick to point out both young players have been impressive.
“Joe played very well,” said Blashill, of Hicketts' NHL debut Monday in New Jersey. “Certainly he wasn’t perfect but no one was perfect. But he played very well. I like Joe Hicketts a lot, he’s a real good young player.
“Joe gave us what we needed last night (in New Jersey). He came in and gave us a little jam. I don’t think it’s the last we’ve seen of Joe Hicketts.”
Hicketts, 21, was credited with blocking three shots Monday, recording 1 hit and finishing with a plus-1 rating.
Turgeon, 21, played in four games with the Red Wings, averaging just under 10 minutes of ice time, and displaying an impressive two-way game.
“In three of the four games he played real good overall,” Blashill said. “What he has to do to be successful and get in the league, is he has to be a good, two-way center. He’s going to have to be a real good penalty killer. He showed those signs.
“He won battles. He’s never going to be super, super fast, so he has to make sure he’s real strong on his stick and win tons of battles and he did a good job of that.”
The play of Turgeon and Hicketts, along with the recent emergence of youngsters like Tyler Bertuzzi and Andreas Athanasiou, along with Dylan Larkin and Anthony Mantha, is a hopeful sign.
Blashill likes what he has seen of the brigade from Grand Rapids.
“When young guys come up it gives you hope for what they can continue to build,” Blashill said.
Bertuzzi scored his second goal Monday in New Jersey, and the line of Bertuzzi, Larkin and Athanasiou is building impressive chemistry.
“Bert has been a good, young player since he’s been up here,” Blashill said. “I like what he brings. He’s a winning type of hockey player.
“The line of Bert, Larkin and Double-A has the makings of a real good line. As those guys have success, it just makes us better.”
Blashill doesn’t expect Daley (lower body) to be available before this weekend’s All-Star break.
Defensemen Xavier Ouellet and Nick Jensen were both in the lineup against the Flyers.
…Blashill said Abdelkader (lower body) was “possible” for Thursday’s game against Chicago, while Helm (lower body) was “possible” for the first game after the All-Star break, Jan. 31, against San Jose.