No one in the Detroit Red Wings organization has told Jonatan Berggren to look for a permanent place in the Detroit area. But he is playing as if he intends to stay here.
Berggren, 22, picked up his fourth assist in the past five games to help Detroit post a 4-2 win against the Ottawa Senators on New Year’s Eve. He has 13 points in 22 games, a noteworthy total given that he averages 12:42 minutes per game. That projects to a 48-point season.
It’s also noticeable that he has some hocus-pocus in his game. He occasionally conjures nothing into something.
“I’m feeling that I can play better, of course, but I’m still happy I’m able to play my game…and create some offense from the game,” Berggren said Friday.
Derek Lalonde may have some tough lineup decisions to make when Fabbri & Vrana return (not to mention Bertuzzi later on).
— Ryan Hana (@RyanHanaWWP) January 1, 2023
An evaluation of Berggren’s progress is important these days because Detroit Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman has difficult roster decisions coming up. Jakub Vrana will be returning from his 3-game conditioning stint with Grand Rapids. He didn’t put up any points, but had seven shots on goal in the Griffins 4-2 loss to Milwaukee on Saturday. Robby Fabbri will also be coming off the injury list Wednesday. Tyler Bertuzzi (hand) and Filip Zadina (leg) are also close to returning.
That means players will have to be removed from the roster to make room for the returning players. Berggren, Joe Veleno and Elmer Soderblom are the three players who can be sent to the American Hockey League without being placed on waivers.
Youngsters Make Case to Stay
All three of them have made a case to stay in Detroit. They are all starting to put up numbers. But if Yzerman keeps those three players, he will have to trade away a veteran or place them on waivers.
Berggren, Veleno and Soderblom have played mostly among the bottom six forwards, but Berggren played on the second line on New Year’s Eve. Coach Derek Lalonde appreciates Berggren’s potential.
“The thing you love about Berggren is every line he’s been on he’s helped them offensively,” Lalonde said. “We’re losing going into the third period (Thursday against Buffalo), we move him into our top six for a spark and he did that. Was in on a goal, but their line drove some offense. Great sign by Bergie and I think it’s a sign of his confidence.”
Berggren notes that no one has said anything to him about whether he will be here the rest of the season.
“Take it day by day,” Berggren said. “Try to be better and help the team as much as I can.”
He’s living in an Airbnb apartment for now.
“We have a kitchen, so my girlfriend can cook,” Berggren said. “That’s been a really good help. Of course, I can’t think too much about that. Just take it day by day and compete.”