DETROIT – Rookie defenseman Jakub Kindl knows nothing is going to be handed to him this season.
Heading into training camp in Traverse City, which the Wings depart for Thursday, Kindl sits seventh on the depth chart on the blue line.
“I don’t even know if I’m going to stay here,” Kindl said. “I’ve got to show it to everyone that I can be a part of the Red Wings. It will be hard. I’ve never been in a situation like this. I’ve just got to wait and see what happens.
“I’m getting closer to my dream,” Kindl said. “I’ve just to work my butt off and get ready for whatever happens.”
The Wings are quite high on Kindl, who is in the first year of a one-way, three-year deal he signed that will pay him $883,333 a season.
“I think he’s going to play on our team,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “He’s a big kid that can pass the puck and skate. The challenge for him now is to find the confidence to be an NHL player. There is no question in (our minds) that he’s ready to play. But now you have to decide you’re ready to play, it doesn’t matter what we think.
“He has a lot of the things we think are important to play on the backend in the (NHL),” Babcock added. “Now the ball is in his court. He’s got my confidence. All he has to do now is look after himself.”
Heading into camp, the Wings’ top six defensemen seem locked in place. The addition of Ruslan Salei this offseason did just that.
Kindl will be fighting for a job with veterans Derek Meech and Doug Janik and another rookie, Brendan Smith.
“No one ahead of him is giving him their job,” Babcock said. “He’s in here fighting for ice time and more opportunities to play.”
Kindl, who was drafted by Detroit with the 19th overall pick in the 2005 draft, was called up twice last season and appeared in three games where he didn’t register a point and was a minus-2.
“I’ve got to show everyone I can play in the NHL and that I really want to be part of the Detroit Red Wings,” Kindl said.
“I know what I’ve got to do better,” Kindl added. “I’ve got to be defensively and get used to the speed. Watching all the players practicing and playing has helped me as well.”
Kindl has improved defensively since playing in Grand Rapids.
His first season with the Griffins he finished a minus-34. He followed that up with a minus-14 two years ago and was just a minus-4 last year.
In three games with the Wings last season he was a minus-2.
“I would still like to be a plus than a minus the whole time,” Kindl said. “I’ve been playing a lot in every situation. I’ve been playing over 20 minutes a game. I think I’ve gotten better, now I just have to prove it here.
Kindl worked out in the Czech Republic his summer instead of staying in Grand Rapids like he has the past few seasons.
“I wasn’t sure if I was going to be here,” Kindl said. “I wasn’t planning.”
In 226 games with the Griffins, Kindl had 12 goals and 71 assists.