Wade Megan on his opportunity with the Red Wings after being called up from Grand Rapids. Ted Kulfan, The Detroit News
Detroit – He probably will not be here for long. So Wade Megan figures: Why not treasure it and soak in every minute.
You got the sense the new Red Wings forward was doing that Thursday after the team's morning skate.
“I’m very excited, and super grateful for the opportunity to be here, in this locker room, to compete with these guys tonight,” Megan said ahead of Detroit's game vs. New Jersey.
At age 28, Megan is past the prospect stage in his career. He has played four games in the NHL (before Thursday), all with the St. Louis Blues, where he scored one goal.
A fifth-round pick in 2009 by Florida, Megan, 6-foot-1 and 191-pounds, has bounced around the minor leagues, shown offensive ability (33-goal season in 2016-17), and got off to a good start in Grand Rapids this season (two goals, two assists in eight games).
“What I’ve been told from down there is Megan has been their best player every single night,” said coach Jeff Blashill, who essentially chose Megan over Christoffer Ehn for this particular callup. “He had a real good training camp. They’re (Megan, Ehn) both similar, they’re both accountable defensively, so it was a real close decision, but we decided to go with Megan this time.
“We’d like not be a roller-coaster (of calling up and sending down players) if we can avoid it. If you’re getting similar type of players, adding a little bit of offense allows Ehner to stay put for now.”
With the entire line of Andreas Athanasiou, Frans Nielsen and Thomas Vanek out with injuries, the Wings needed bodies.
Megan learned of his promotion Wednesday after the Griffins’ practice.
“I didn’t really see it coming,” Megan said. “I just tried to do everything I could in Grand Rapids to help the team win, and fortunately this happened and we’ll go from here.”
Nielsen could return Saturday and Athanasiou a few days later, so Megan’s stay in the NHL might not last long.
But Megan was relishing the opportunity the best he could.
“It’s (the NHL) the best hockey league in the world,” Megan said. “It’s always fun to be back, super exhilarating. I’m very grateful to be here.”
The corresponding roster move, with Megan coming up from Grand Rapids, was the Wings’ sending defenseman Joe Hicketts to the Griffins.
Hicketts, 22, stayed with the Wings out of training camp, along with Libor Sulak, Filip Hronek and Dennis Cholowski, when the team's defense was decimated with injuries.
Now, only Cholowski remains.
Hicketts had no points in eight games, with a minus-6 rating, while averaging 17 minutes, 6 seconds of ice time.
“Joe did a good job, he had a good camp; my message was to go be the best player, the best defenseman (in Grand Rapids),” Blashill said. “We have a number of young defensemen down there. Go down there and be the best, so when it’s time to be called up, you’re the guy being called up.”
Nielsen took part in Thursday’s morning skate, and was optimistic he’d be back for Saturday’s game against Edmonton, after getting injured Sunday against Dallas.
“It was the first time on the ice today," he said. "Hopefully I feel good tomorrow again so I can get a full practice.”
Athanasiou didn’t skate Thursday, and Blashill said Athanasiou needs to go through an entire practice before returning to the lineup.
Blashill reaffirmed that Vanek (lower body), will be out 2-4 weeks after what appeared to be a knee injury suffered in Tuesday’s victory in Columbus.
Defenseman Danny DeKeyser (hand) practiced Thursday and should be ready to play Saturday, said Blashill.
Blashill talked with forward Gustav Nyquist (one goal, eight assists, minus-6 rating) about being harder on the forecheck.
"When he does that, it brings in the aggressiveness in his game and he’s a better player," Blashill said. "He’s certainly had opportunities and chances, and if gets those, he’ll convert them.”
… New Jersey defenseman Andy Greene (Trenton/Detroit Compuware) continues to be a key part of the Devils’ success. Greene, 36, in his 13th season, had two assists in nine games with a plus-1 rating, while playing more than 21 minutes per game.
… Blashill has used New Jersey forward Taylor Hall, last season’s NHL’s Most Valuable Player, as an example to Wings’ players.
“He really bought into being a complete player and as a result had an MVP year,” Blashill said.