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Jonatan Berggren’s Debut in Detroit is Drawing Closer



Jonatan Berggren, Grand Rapids Griffins

Detroit Red Wings fans waiting to see Jonatan Berggren make his NHL debut probably won’t see it this March. It may not even happen this season. But’s it’s closer than it’s ever been.

Though general manager Steve Yzerman won’t make any promises, he is impressed with the young Swede.

“I would say Jonatan Berggren has had a really good year,” Yzerman said during yesterday’s press conference. “We’re pleased with his play. He’s gotten better from start to this point of the season, (and) worked extremely hard. He’s an important player for us there.”

There’s good reason to keep Berggren in Grand Rapids: the AHL playoffs.  He’s the type of skater the Griffins need to make that push into the second season and has a chance to gain valuable experience in doing so.

“He’s playing well and he’s an important player, so I’m happy with him,” Yzerman added. “We’re in a dogfight for the playoffs in GR. That’s important. We want to make the playoffs. Kind of trade that off with maybe seeing him up here.”

Another Rising Detroit Red Wings Prospect

It took some time for Berggren to gain some traction on North American ice. In his first five games, Berggren had just one assist. But in his next six games, he registered seven points (3 goals) and from there took off.

Against Cleveland on Jan. 15, he recorded four assists.

Skating with 38 points (14-24) in 52 games, the 21-year-old winger has dazzled fans and analysts with some jaw dropping plays this season.

He leads the Griffins in points and is tied for second for goals scored. In short, he’s everything they could have hoped for in his first season with Grand Rapids.

Berggren’s Time Will Come

Providing Berggren with the opportunity to play critical minutes during a playoff chase remains the plan. Yzerman doesn’t see the value in playing a game of call-up chicken with the youngster.

“What I liked about him being there is he’s got some stability,” Yzerman said.  “He knows where he’s playing tomorrow night, he knows who he’s playing with, he knows his role and not sitting there wondering ‘Am I getting called up? Am I in or out of the lineup?'”

The blessing from Yzerman certainly is good news for Berggren’s future with the Detroit Red Wings. But the same approach of prospect patience will apply here. His value to Grand Rapids–and ultimately his development–is too important at this point. But at some point, the Red Wings will have a spot ready for him.

Yzerman knows the time is nearing. “I can’t really promise or guarantee that we’ll see him here,” he said.  “But it’s certainly something to consider.”