Red Wings set roster but injuries on defense make for fluid situation
Detroit — The Detroit Red Wings roster was set late Tuesday afternoon as per NHL requirements.
But before Thursday’s regular-season opener against Columbus, it might look slightly different again.
The roster continues to be in flux because of a flurry of injuries on defense.
Coach Jeff Blashill confirmed Mike Green (infection) will be out approximately a month, which is why the Wings put Green on injured-reserve.
But Blashill also said Jonathan Ericsson is “very questionable” for Thursday, while Niklas Kronwall is definitely “out” for the game against the Blue Jackets.
One bright spot: Blashill said Trevor Daley was “very likely” to play against Columbus.
Daley, Ericsson, Kronwall and Green have been out for varying portions of the preseason, while Danny DeKeyser returned late last week.
Against the backdrop of those injuries, the Wings assigned defensemen Filip Hronek and Joe Hicketts to Grand Rapids and kept Libor Sulak on the roster (Dennis Cholowski was told he made the team last weekend).
Hicketts and Hronek’s situation could change quickly and they could return to Detroit if Ericsson and Kronwall aren’t ready to play.
“We have a lot of roster flux, we’ll figure out a roster over the next couple of days,” Blashill said. “But Thursday we’ll have figured it out. We’ll try to get the guys in there who’ll give us the best chance to win.
“We’ll see where everybody is at and who is healthy before potentially we call them back up if guys aren’t healthy. But I just don’t know that answer (who’ll be on the roster Thursday) until we get through (Wednesday’s) practice.”
One thing for sure: The Wings will have a new faces on defense.
“We’ll certainly have a number of young defensemen in the lineup on Thursday,” Blashill said.
Regarding Green, Blashill said, “He’s skating but we think it’ll be probably two more weeks before he’s really in full practices, which would leave him about two weeks after that before he’s ready to go. We’re looking at a timeline of a month before we’d have him fully available to us. That timeline is fluid, but that’s what we’re looking at right now.”
With Henrik Zetterberg essentially retired, and the regular season approaching, Blashill said the Wings are closer to designating their leadership.
Kronwall and Justin Abdelkader are currently associate captains, with the decision looming whether to name a third associate or replace Zetterberg with a new captain.
“We’re certainly closer,” said Blashill, adding he and general manager Ken Holland would talk about it again soon. “I can’t say we made it 100 percent, (but) we feel we’ve made the decision and we’ll circle back and feel good about it and move on from there.
“These are big decisions and we want to make sure to make the right decision.”
It’s likely the Red Wings will go with the third associate, with Dylan Larkin or Frans Nielsen getting the letter.
The Wings assigned forward Luke Witkowski to Grand Rapids
… Zetterberg, incidentally, will drop the ceremonial first puck Thursday, the team announced.
… Some locker intrique: Michael Rasmussen has taken over Zetterberg’s locker stall.
… Forward Evgeny Svechnikov remains on the non-roster injured-reserve list, and will not be available to play Thursday. Svechnikov is likely headed to Grand Rapids when he is ready to play.
… Blashill had Gustav Nyquist on a line with Larkin and Anthony Mantha, while Nielsen was between Tyler Bertuzzi and Rasmussen. Andreas Athanasiou centered Abdelkader and Thomas Vanek, while Christoffer Ehn centered Luke Glendening and Darren Helm.