The presence of defenseman Mark Pysyk on the ice with his Detroit Red Wings teammates Thursday is a reminder that the team’s defense could look different in the second half of the season.
GM Steve Yzerman signed Pysyk in the offseason with the idea that he could be a dependable third pairing performer. Pysyk, 30, has played 521 NHL games. The Red Wings were glad to have both Pysyk and Robby Fabbri on the ice Thursday.
“It’s actually pretty cool getting some of the guys out, these are veteran type guys, big personalities,” Detroit coach Derek Lalonde said.
Both players are recovering from offseason surgery and are on track to return to the lineup after New Year’s Day.
“Still, Pysyk and Fabbri are on target but a long ways away,” Lalonde said. “It was just happy to have them at the morning skate and get them in the mix a little bit.”
Pysyk Similar to Maatta
Pysyk has played forward as well, but the Red Wings brought him in as a defender. In theory, he could give Detroit’s third pairing added consistency. Pysyk is defensive-minded. He can help, like Olli Maatta is helping the second pairing with Filip Hronek.
“Pysyk is more about just being a simple defender.,” Lalonde said. “I don’t want to put undue pressure on him because Olli is playing so well right now, but similar, right shot, minute-eating, safe defender, kind of where we want our entire game to be. That was our vision of signing him. Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to see him yet. But it I think it was more of the defensive predictable, simple, defend-first mentality.”
The X Factor for the defense is young Simon Edvinsson. He is in Grand Rapids gaining valuable experience in the North American professional game. Will he be ready for his NHL debut in the second half of the season?
That’s an unknown variable. His level of play will dictate GM Steve Yzerman’s decision.