Red Wings gladly welcome back two key veterans to lineup

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Winnipeg, Manitoba — The Red Wings became a little older team Tuesday again, and coach Jeff Blashill wasn’t disappointed about that.

Getting defenseman Trevor Daley and forward Justin Abdelkader back certainly didn’t lower the average age of the team — Daley is 36 and Abdelkader 32 — but the Red Wings got two veteran players to stabilize a lineup that has been doing a lot of losing.

Justin Abdelkader

“Solid players that play good hockey and add to our depth as a team, for sure,” Blashill said of the contributions Daley and Abdelkader provide.

In Daley’s case, the Wings have been ravaged with injuries on defense.

Getting a veteran like Daley who makes sound decisions with the puck, eats important minutes, and is sound defensively is a major plus.

Daley has been in and out of the lineup since the start of last season.

“He’s had a couple of years where he’s been injured lots, and I’m hoping he can stay healthy here and get back into the groove and play the way he was playing when he first came to us, which was real good hockey,” Blashill said.

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“It’s not going to happen overnight, getting into the same groove, but game by game, if he can stay healthy, it can be a real positive for us.”

Another factor for the Wings: Daley is an unrestricted free agent at this season’s conclusion, so he could be a decent rental for a contending team at the trade deadline — if he can stay healthy and show he can still be a valuable asset.

As for Abdelkader, he was part of arguably one of the Wings’ best lines in the season’s opening weeks — with Darren Helm and the now-departed Jacob de la Rose.

Since hurting his hand in early November, the Wings have missed Abdelkader’s ability around the net and his size in the lineup.

“Same thing in Abby’s case, he’s had a couple of years where he’s been out, and when you’re in and out of the lineup it’s hard to get into that groove,” Blashill said. “Abby can do a lot of different things. He can play net front on the power play and kill penalties, and he can play up and down the lineup in different roles, so it’ll be good to have him back.”

Back in G.R.

Defenseman Madison Bowey cleared waivers Tuesday, and was assigned to the Wings’ minor league affiliate in Grand Rapids.

Bowey, 24, played in 22 games with eight points (one goal), with a minus-13 rating. He was averaging almost 18 minutes per game (17:47).

But with Daley returning from injury, someone had to go on defense, and not being in the lineup, Bowey became expendable.

“He had stagnated a little bit, and it was a spot where he had some tough games in a row so we took him out of the linup and if he’s going to be out of the lineup — he should play hockey, he’s 24 years old,” Blashill said.

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Blashill is hopeful Bowey will go the American League and regain his confidence and play the type of hockey he’s capable of playing.

“This doesn’t need to be the end for him by any means,” Blashill said. “As I said to him, go down and play like you don’t belong down there and people will be pounding my door to have him back up. His play will dictate his opportunites.

“Is there still more, if he makes adjustments to his game? Absolutely. He just has to learn how to manage the game, be real efficient, and real good defensively, and is he can do that down there, he’ll get his opportunities back here."

Ice chips

Goaltender Jimmy Howard (mid-body) took part in the morning skate and did some light drills, but Blashill said he has no timeline for a Howard return.

… Andreas Athanasiou was to miss Tuesday’s game, but Blashill said Athanasiou is day-to-day and could return Thursday.

… The Wings will allow forward Joe Veleno (Canada) and defenseman Moritz Seider (Germany) to play in the world junior championships Dec. 26-Jan. 5 in the Czech Republic. Both recent draft picks are playing in Grand Rapids.

Twitter: @tkulfan