Jonatan Berggren was 2,403 miles from Little Caesars Arena last night. But how he played for the Grand Rapids Griffins in a 6-2 road loss to the Ontario Reign was just as important as Joe Veleno’s effort against in the Red Wings’ 6-3 win against the Philadelphia.
Berggren registered two points in the Griffins’ loss, while Veleno scored a goal. Those two players are among the handful of young players who need to use the last six weeks of the NHL or AHL seasons to show GM Steve Yzerman where they fit next season.
“I just think we’ve got a whole bunch of guys that are in that stage of their career where I think they either want more, or they want to continue to prove they’re good NHL players,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “It’s one of those two things. We’ve got a bunch of young guys that I think want ultimately to have expanded roles and be able to do more. The other side is guys that are trying to prove that they are still good NHL players.”
Berggren is a candidate to play on Detroit’s second line next season. Detroit GM Steve Yzerman indicated the Red Wings are pleased with Berggren’s progress. Meanwhile, Blashill said Veleno’s play was “up and down” of late.
Veleno is definitely in Detroit’s plans. The only question is whether he will be a scoring center or a checking center.
Defensemen Gus Lindstrom and Jake Walman are the two young defensemen who need to show what they can do. Walman has size, a heavy shot and skating ability. Up front, Veleno, Berggren, Filip Zadina, Givani Smith and Michael Rasmussen are among the younger player still trying to establish their place in the food chain. Defenseman Jordan Oesterle and forward Adam Erne still have something prove. Newcomer Oskar Sundqvist will also get a hard look over the next 19 games because the Red Wings want to determine what role he should have. They already like his size and attitude.
“We traded a couple of good players, so there’s some roles opened up that way,” Blashill said. “We’ve had some injuries, so roles open up that way. Now they gotta go out and prove that they can help this team win and not just be guys that can play in the NHL. ”
Prickly forward Tyler Bertuzzi has 13 points in his past 12 games.
Left wing Adam Erne has one point in his past nine games.
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