Detroit Red Wings
Red Wings New Faces: Who Are These Guys?
You’re going to be seeing a couple of new players donning the Winged Wheel of the Detroit Red Wings in Tuesday’s game against the Philadelphia Flyers.
Gone are defensemen Nick Leddy and Troy Stecher and forward Vladislav Namestnikov, dealt away over the past two days in NHL trade deadline moves.
Incoming are forward Oskar Sundqvist and defenseman Jake Walman. Both were acquired from the St. Louis Blues in the Leddy trade. They’ll join defenseman Olli Juolevi, acquired last week on waivers from the Florid Panthers.
Instead of a playoff drive, the final 20 games of the Red Wings season are going to be try out time for several players. So who are theses guys?
Let’s look at that.
Red Wings Filling Needs
First and foremost, Sundqvist and Walman are capable of filling some glaring needs in the Detroit lineup. Both bring size to the equation.
Sundqvist is 6-foot-3 and 208 pounds. Walman is 6-foot-1 and 215 pounds.
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“We all love good, big players,” Red Wings GM Steve Yzerman said. “We love good little players, we love good players in general. But I think more so than just big, we kind of addressed a need.”
The Wings are sadly lacking in right-hand shot forwards. Jordan Oesterle is the only left-hand shot defenseman under contract beyond this season. Lucas Raymond is the only right-hand shot forward signed beyond the current campaign.
UPDATE: The Detroit #RedWings today acquired defenseman Jake Walman, center Oskar Sundqvist, and a 2nd round pick in the 2023 NHL Entry Draft from the St. Louis Blues in exchange for defensemen Nick Leddy and Luke Witkowski. pic.twitter.com/JC8CupZ5wH
— Detroit Red Wings (@DetroitRedWings) March 21, 2022
Walman and Juolevi are both left-hand shots, while Sundqvist is a righty.
“With the acquisition of Olli Juolevi and with Jake, they’re a couple of guys we get to try out and see what they do and decide where they fit for us for next year,” Yzerman said. “With Lucas Raymond and Sam Gagner in the lineup and Mitch Stephens and Carter Rowney, both right shots are injured, really the only one signed for next year at this point is Lucas.”
Sundqvist Plays With An Edge
Sundqvist’s reputation is that of a player often found to be skating with a burr under his saddle. You might recall that he was suspended by the NHL for Game 3 of the 2019 Stanley Cup final following his hit on Boston Bruins defenseman Matt Grzelcyk in Game 2 of that set. He was also the guy who set off Washington’s Tom Wilson so much that Wilson was assessed a 20-game NHL sitdown for his physical assault on Sundqvist.
“It was an opportunity to bring in a bigger body that plays on the right side, is a good penalty killer, that really filled a need for us, particularly on right wing and the size and the ability to kill penalties,” Yzerman said. “He can kind of go up and down your lineup a little bit.”
Oskar Sundqvist hits #Bruins' Matt Grzelcyk from behind late in the 1st and gets two minutes for boarding.
Do you think 2 minutes was enough? 🤔 #StanleyCup pic.twitter.com/byrlK1nv8n
— Hockey Night in Canada (@hockeynight) May 30, 2019
Since scoring a career-high 14 goals and four more in the Cup run in 2018-19, Sundqvist’s numbers have dipped both statistically and analytically. He scored four goals last season and has four so far this season. At 42.1 this season, Sundqvist is showing the worst Corsi of any Blues player who’s played 10 or more games.
He did occasionally skate on a line with Detroit’s Robby Fabbri in St. Louis. There are qualities about Sundqvist that Yzerman admires and respects.
“For what’s it worth, we’re gotten rave reviews on his character and his popularity in the locker room in St. Louis,” Yzerman said. “I’m very happy to hear that.
“It’s much like the addition of Marc Staal to our locker room. Veterans that have been around that are good guys can really create a good atmosphere and help build a really good atmosphere in the locker room.”
Walman Getting His Chance
Admitting they’ve been scouting Walman for a long time, Yzerman believes there’s untapped potential in the player that could be unleashed by his Detroit opportunity. He’s mobile and a sound mover of the puck.
“Jake Walman was playing behind some pretty good players in St. Louis,” Yzerman said. “We kind of watched him for a while going back to his days at Providence and kind of followed him through the minors and had some discussions with (Blues GM) Doug (Armstrong) earlier in the season when he was looking at doing some other things.
Jake Walman, acquired by DET, is more interesting. He played miniscule sheltered minutes for STL this season but was a microstat chart-breaker and one of the most trigger-happy defencemen in the league. Maybe something there, maybe not. #LGRW pic.twitter.com/ZYntD9a4kh
— JFresh (@JFreshHockey) March 21, 2022
“He’ll get some opportunity to play here. We think he has a chance to be a regular in the NHL, just hasn’t been able to do that with a pretty good defensive corps in front of him in St. Louis.
“He skates well, shoots the puck hard, and is pretty competitive. We want to try out Jake on the left side on the blueline, see how he does. There’s opportunity here. This is a good chance to try Juolevi, it’s a chance to try Jake out and see how they do.”