Potential trade target Nick Jensen hopes to remain with Red Wings
Detroit — That other teams are interested, and there could be a playoff series to play in this spring, those are nice things to know for defenseman Nick Jensen.
But as days count down to Monday’s trade deadline, Jensen, whose name is apparently generating significant interest from other teams, would much rather remain in Detroit.
“This is the organization that drafted me, the team’s amazing, the staff is amazing, the fans are amazing," Jensen said after Thursday's practice. "So, obviously, I love it here.”
But, there’s a flip side.
Jensen can be an unrestricted free agent on July 1 — he’s in the final year of a two-year-contract worth $1.625 million — and he and the Wings haven’t been able to reach an agreement on a new contract.
Teams are extremely interested in Jensen, and some could be willing to part with a second-round draft choice to acquire him.
Jensen might remain a Red Wing, and the front office has expressed a desire to keep him.
But, it is a business.
“They’re going to do what they need to do,” Jensen said. “At the same time, I have to do what I need to do, too.”
This is the first time Jensen, 28, has been through the endless speculation that leads to the trade deadline.
Coach Jeff Blashill said he planned to talk with Jensen to see where the defenseman’s head was at with the trade rumors.
“I’ve talked with Jense a little bit, but I’m going to grab him today and see how he’s doing,” Blashill said. “Just make sure from a mental state that he’s focusing on what he can control — and that’s his play.”
Jensen admitted the distraction is there, but he tries to stay away the best he can.
“There’s a little bit of that distraction in the back of your head, but it’s nothing that you can really control,” Jensen said. “Anything that’s out of my control, I tend not to focus on, really. I’m just focusing on playing hockey — one game at a time, one day at a time. That’s the main focus right now.”
Spreading out the scoring
As good as the Dylan Larkin-centered line with Anthony Mantha and Tyler Bertuzzi was in Wednesday's loss to Chicago, it was almost like they were too dominant.
The other three lines didn’t have nearly the offensive push, so Blashill shuffled lines at Thursday’s practice.
Larkin centered Gustav Nyquist and Bertuzzi, while Mantha played with Luke Glendening and Andreas Athanasiou.
“The one thing we were probably too much last night was one-line dominant,"Blashill said. "We didn’t have enough from the rest of the group, playing at the same level,” Blashill said. “Double-A heated up as the game went along (two goals). We’d like to see if we can get a little more scoring out of multiple lines.
“There’s been a lot of times this season where Nyquist has played excellent with Larks and Double-A and Mantha have a history going back to the American League of playing great together.”
Justin Abdelkader (flu) and Darren Helm (lower body) both missed practice Thursday, but Blashill expressed optimism both would be ready to play Friday against Minnesota.
… Wednesday’s game was the first time the Wings have had a completely healthy roster this season.
… Blashill said there’s been no talk from the front office of sitting any potential players ahead of Monday’s trade deadline.
Jensen, Nyquist, goaltender Jimmy Howard and forward Tomas Vanek are potential unrestricted free agents who could attract interest from other teams. Niklas Kronwall isn’t likely to be dealt.
… Forward Jacob de la Rose was a healthy scratch against Chicago, but Blashill hinted de la Rose could return to the lineup against Minnesota.
“Jacob’s been a good player, he’s a good defensive player,” Blashill said. “In some ways, he safed his way out of the lineup in the sense he sometimes can be over-safe. I’d like him to take time and space away a little quicker, both in the defensive zone and tracking situations, and I’d like him to use his shot better.”
Wild at Red Wings
Faceoff: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Little Caesars Arena, Detroit
TV/radio: FSD/97.1 FM
Outlook: Minnesota (27-27-6, 60 points) has fallen out of the playoff picture having won only once in its last 10 games (1-6-3)…Trade speculation is swirling, and pressure is mounting, but veterans LW Zach Parise (23 goals, 49 points) and D Ryan Suter (34 assists) still form a solid nucleus.