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Red Wings Coach Lalonde Wants to Keep His Youngsters

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Joe Veleno, detroit red wings
Red Wings coach Derek Lalonde said he wants to keep his younger players, even when injured veterans return

With injured Robby Fabbri expected to return to the roster Wednesday, the Red Wings need to remove a player. On Monday, Lalonde was clear he wasn’t thinking it will be Jonatan Berggren, Joe Veleno or Elmer Soderblom.

“I do not see me taking one of those three out, at least on Wednesday,” Lalonde said.

Those three players are producing, particularly over the past five games. They have combined for three goals and 15 points.

The Red Wings will have to decide on two separate issues in preparation for Fabbri’s return after sitting out the first three months of the season. First, they have to fit Fabbri into their 23-person roster and then must find a spot for him in a 20-person lineup.

If Fabbri is available and ready on Wednesday, we want to play him,” Lalonde said. “He’s an important part to our team both on the ice and in the room. If that is the case, post-practice tomorrow, we’re going to have to make a decision.”

Lalonde said there has been much discussion about the situation. The advantage of sending Berggren, Veleno and Soderblom to the minors is that they are waivers-exempt. If the Red Wings try to send anyone else to the Grand Rapids Griffins, they would need to clear waivers.

Yzerman’s Call

GM Steve Yzerman makes the decision about who is removed from the roster. One possibility is Yzerman can clear up the Red Wings goalie situation. They currently have three netminders on their roster. Ville Husso is the clear-cut No. 1, and Magnus Hellberg has played the last three games because Husso was ill.

Alex Nedeljkovic, an unrestricted free agent, might be the player put on waivers. There’s a chance he could be claimed.

Lalonde said no decision about the cut has been reached.

“We’ve talked a ton,” Lalonde said. “Because of how well we’ve played of late, winning three of our last four, vs. some pretty hot teams, there’s a lot that’s going into it. Special teams will be a part of it. Play of late will be a part of it. I think fortunately, it’s going to be a tough decision, it may not even be the correct decision but obviously something will shake down here in the next 24-48 hours.”

The second decision is which forward will come out for Fabbri. If the youngsters are staying in, the possibilities include Adam Erne or Pius Suter. But that is not a slam dunk. Erne provides a physical presence. He leads the tem with 102 hits. Plus, he kills penalties. Coaches like Suter’s versatility and his smart approach to the game.

The fact the Red Wings are 3-1-1 in their last five games makes the decision more difficult. Everyone is doing what they are supposed to do.

More Tough Decisions Coming

“It’s  just kind of unique that we’re struggling to decide who that guy coming out is going to be if Fabbri is ready for Wednesday,” Lalonde said, “where there’s probably many a time on any given night where we had some easy decisions.

This may not be the only difficult roster decision they face. Tyler Bertuzzi and Filip Zadina are practicing with the team. Bertuzzi was full of energy in today’s practice. But Lalonde indicated their return isn’t yet imminent.

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It may be difficult to keep Bertuzzi out of the lineup, with the energy he is showing.

“That’s a sign of him getting his game in order, maybe feeling a little better than he anticipated,” Lalonde said. “At the beginning of practice, he was taking a slap shot to see how his hand would feel. Literally, almost like a test, he was nervous. Obviously, it felt well and at the end of practice he was zipping it around to see how it would respond. How it’ll feel after I don’t know. I think he brought some energy and I think he was excited about how well he felt in his first practice.”

 

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