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Can Compher Fill Much-Needed Second-Line Center Role For Red Wings?

Compher is a Stanley Cup champion



J.T. Compher, Red Wings
J.T. Compher played at Michigan with Red Wings teammates Dylan Larkin and Andrew Copp.

Much like rapper Drake, new Detroit Red Wings forward J.T. Compher knows all about coming from the bottom and getting to the top.

When he made his NHL debut with the Colorado Avalanche in 2016-17, things were pretty bleak.

“My first year we were the worst team in the league,” Compher recalled.

In his second-last season there, the Avalanche were Stanley Cup champions.

“I’ve seen both sides of it and I know what it takes,” Compher said. “It was a fun journey to be a part of for sure. It’s hard, it’s not easy at all. It sounds simple but one team wins the Stanley Cup every year.

“We had plenty of teams we thought could do it over the years. Even the year we won there were challenges and adversity to go through. You learn a lot about yourself and teammates when you get in those tight series in the playoffs.”

Compher Could Be Filling Vital Role For Red Wings

Arriving in Detroit via unrestricted free agency, Compher agreed to the five-year deal with an AAV of $5.1 million. He’s a former Michigan player who was a captain with the Wolverines and a teammate there of current Red Wings Dylan Larkin and Andrew Copp. He could also find himself slotting into the Detroit depth chart between Larkin and Copp.

Larkin is the No. 1 center for the Red Wings. Ideally, the Detroit brass would like to see Copp skating as the club’s third-line center. That means they’ll need someone to anchor the second forward unit. Compher is capable of delivering those goods.

“I played a little second-line center in the playoffs with Colorado the year we won,” Compher said. “That was good for my confidence, it was good experience. Just continued trusting my own game.”

Center is certainly Compher’s position of preference, but he’s ready, willing and able to fill whatever role is asked of him by Detroit coach Derek Lalonde.

“I played everything, both wings,” Compher said. ” I think I’m a little more successful whenever I play center. Last year I felt most comfortable playing center.

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“I do enjoy playing center a little bit more, but throughout my career I’ve enjoyed playing in whatever role helps the team. That’s the mindset I’ll go into the year with, just whatever the coach and management and team needs me to do, that’s what I’m going to do.

“Whatever the team needs. I just want to win hockey games. Whatever it takes to do that, whatever the coaches need me to do in terms of position, penalty kill, power play, that’s what I’m going to do.”