Monthly Archives: September 2013

Darren Helm: “I’ll be playing this year, I’m confident in that.”

DETROIT – Darren Helm has some kind of timetable to look at.

By the Wings placing Helm on long-term injured reserve, he’ll miss at least the first 10 games of the regular season.

“I don’t know when I’m going to be ready,” Helm said. “This gives me the opportunity to relax – not relax – but keep my mind off being ready now. It was kind of getting close to some pressure put on me, this takes some pressure off and get better at a little slower pace, might be better for my body.”

Helm participated in another full practice on Monday, centering a line with Drew Miller and Mikael Samuelsson.

“I need to string together a few of those before I feel like I, ready to play,” Helm said. “I’ve only played four periods in the last 18 months. This will give me some time to get a little bit of a training camp, I guess, give me an opportunity to get ready, get in some skates, do some stuff after.”

Players placed on short-term injured reserve (minimum seven days) provide no cap relief, but it does open up a roster spot, while long-term trips (minimum 10 games and 24 days) provide cap relief.

Helm’s recovery from a back injury was put on hold when he suffered a groin injury before training camp began.

“I’ll be playing this year, I’m confident in that,” Helm said. “Fairly small improvements throughout the whole process of injuries that have gathered up but I do feel it has gotten better than last week or so. Every day I keep doing a little more. Hopefully in a couple of weeks I’ll be 100 percent and ready to go.”

Helm, who played one game last season, has yet to be cleared for contact due to his back.

“I’m doing pretty much everything that everyone else is doing, maybe a little lighter weight,” Helm said. “That’s another thing I need to build up before I get playing. I don’t think a week or two will give me that opportunity to be at that level. Long-term will give me a chance to take some pressure off myself and go at my own pace and be ready.”

Helm hopes to travel with team and practice.

“It’s disappointing I won’t be able to play for three weeks, 10 games,” Helm said.

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As of know Tatar sits as veterans play

DETROIT — Tomas Tatar made the Wings’ final roster, but know the question is when will he get in the lineup.

“I know the chance is coming, so just have to wait for a spot and when it’s open just grab it and hold it,” Tatar said after practice.

It appears Wings coach Mike Babcock will sit Tatar in the season opener, opting to go with a more veteran look as Joakim Andersson will center Todd Bertuzzi and Daniel Cleary.

“I’m out of the lineup right now, but I don’t know what will happen to the Wednesday, so just wait for a chance,” Tatar said. “I’m the youngest guy in the locker room, so I wait and when chance comes I’m going to grab it and hold it.”

Tatar, 22, was the American Hockey League MVP last season, scoring 16 goals to go with five assists in 24 games.

“I like him,” Babcock said. “I think he’s a good player. He’s a very usable player, has a knack for the net. But early going in the season, tie goes to the veteran not to the kid. That’s just life. It’s amazing how that works. We’ll get it worked out.”

Tatar spent four seasons with the Griffins. He had four goals and three assists with Detroit a year ago.

Wings assign Nyquist to Grand Rapids; Emmerton clears waivers; Helm, Eaves, Gustavsson and Tootoo heading to IR

DETROIT – Gustav Nyquist knew the day would come and it finally did.

The Wings assigned Nyquist to Grand Rapids to begin the season in order to meet roster limits and free up cap space.

“We like him, he’s a guy we want on the team sooner than later, but unfortunately, we’ve got some difficult cap issues and we’ll start out the way we start out and sort out as we go,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said.

Nyquist signed a two-year deal with an annual cap hit of $950,000 this past offseason to stay with the club.

“Obviously, adversity is not about the decision made, it’s about how you handle it,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “Choose your attitude right. Justin Abdelkader had the same thing happen to him, (Jonathan Ericsson) had the same thing happen to him. It’s not the first time that’s happened here. I’m sure he’s very, very disappointed. But I know him good, he’ll go down and be a real good pro and he’ll be prepared when he gets the opportunity.”

With the signing of Daniel Cleary to a one-year deal worth $1.75 million that put the Wings at 26 players under contract for this season, three over the roster limit. And 17 of those are forwards, which they only expect to carry 14.

On Sunday, Darren Helm was placed on long-term injured reserve and Cory Emmerton was placed on waivers, leaving one spot left to be cleared.

Emmerton, who was passed up on the center depth chart by Joakim Andersson, cleared waivers and will also be assigned to the Griffins.

“Cory’s come a long way, but really what got a little bit in his way is Andy got a little bit in his way,” Babcock said. “That’s just the way it is. We felt Dan Cleary was a guy we needed on our team. We’re in a cap situation that isn’t friendly until you get things worked out.”

Holland said that Patrick Eaves (sprained MCL and ankle), Jordin Tootoo (shoulder) and Jonas Gustavsson (groin) will all begin the season on injured reserve.

“They all go on IR retroactive to when they’re hurt, so we could take them off Wednesday morning if we want,” Holland said.

Nyquist is the only forward that doesn’t have to clear waivers and be exposed for other teams to scoop up before being sent down to the minors.

He is however two NHL games played away from losing his waiver-exempt status.

Defenseman Danny DeKeyser also could be sent down without having to go through waivers, but that would leave Detroit with just six defensemen.

Despite not playing an entire season with the Griffins last year, Nyquist led them with 58 points in 60 games.

Nyquist, who had three goals and three assists in 22 regular season games a year ago, was part of a pretty formidable third line late in the season with Andersson and Damien Brunner. He had two goals and three assists in 14 postseason games.

Nyquist and Mrazek sent to GR

Quick update from Wings practice.

Wings GM Ken Holland just texted and said Gustav Nyquist and Petr Mrazek sent to Grand Rapids.

Nyquist simply in a numbers game with the Wings’ roster size.

If he plays two more NHL games the Wings don’t have the option of assigning him to the Griffins without having to clear waivers.

Cory Emmerton, who was placed on waivers by the team Sunday, isn’t on the ice either.

Petr Mrazek also has been assigned to GR. Jared Coreau in other goal opposite Jimmy Howard.

More updates to come after practice.

Emmerton placed on waivers; Helm heading to long-term injured reserve

DETROIT – Simply put, Cory Emmerton was a victim of a numbers game.

The Wings placed the fourth-line center on waivers Sunday to trim $533,333 off their salary cap.

“In order to get cap compliant this is one move we had to make,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said in a phone interview Sunday after the move. “First off, let’s see if he clears. If he clears we know what he can do. If he’s claimed he’s off the books, if he’s not claimed we have the ability to send him down.”

If Emmerton, 25, isn’t claimed the Wings plan to send in to Grand Rapids.

Holland also said that Darren Helm (back) will be placed on long-term injured reserve to begin the season, which sheds another $2.125 million off the salary cap.

“He’s played one game in 18 months, he’s just starting to get up and running,” Holland said. “He’s had a couple of practices but it’s going to take a while.”

The Wings are currently three players over the roster size of 26 and roughly $2.4 million over the salary cap.

Those two moves help get them under the cap, but another player move still needs to be made and they have many options.

Patrick Eaves (sprained MCL and ankle), Jonas Gustavsson (groin) and Jordin Tootoo (shoulder) all are sidelined with injuries.

Eaves and Gustavsson appear headed to the IR, but it’s not determined if it’ll be long-term or short-term stints for them. Both will be re-examined by doctors Monday.

Tootoo is the closest to returning, but he could also begin the season on short-term IR.

Players placed on short-term injured reserve (minimum seven days) provide no cap relief, but it does open up a roster spot, while long-term trips (minimum 10 games and 24 days) provide cap relief.

If the Wings place Gustavsson on short-term IR, they’ll need to free up more cap space because his $1.5 million salary will count against cap and Petr Mrazek’s salary of $790,000 would also count.

That scenario would more than likely get Gustav Nyquist sent to Grand Rapids to begin the season, at least temporarily. His cap his is $950,000. Nyquist and Danny DeKeyser are both exempt from having to clear waivers to go back to the minors.

“Tomorrow we’ll assess what other moves we have to make,” said Holland, who added no one else will be placed on waivers.

Rosters must be set by 5 p.m. on Monday. The Wings open the season Wednesday at home against the Buffalo Sabres.

Joakim Andersson will be the team’s third-line center until Helm returns. Riley Sheahan or Luke Glendening could serve as the fourth-line center until Helm gets back.

“In the short term we’ll be a little challenged (at center) until Helm gets back,” Holland said.

The Wings hope Emmerton, who was taken 41st overall in the 2006 draft, clears waivers to provide depth in the organization. In parts of three seasons he had 12 goals and seven assists in 121 games.

This and that

DETROIT — Defenseman Danny DeKeyser (knee) skated Saturday and said he’s ready for Wednesday’s season opener at home against the Buffalo Sabres.

— Stephen Weiss (groin) didn’t skate after leaving Friday’s game early.

“It’s more of a maintenance thing,” said Weiss, who didn’t need tests done to determine the extent of the injury. “Let it settle down a bit and take a couple of days and get back after it on Monday.”

— Jordin Tootoo (shoulder) skated, but didn’t take part in drills.

— Wings coach Mike Babcock’s impressions this preseason, “I don’t have a whole bunch of themes. I’d like to see the power play be dangerous. Last night with (Daniel) Alfredsson on it that was really important. Other than that we’ve worked on trying to get better at moving the puck. We still make some poor decisions on the back end with reads and that comes with experience, that’s why you play those kids so much in exhibition. Like any year we’re a work in progress. You’re concerned, are you going to be good enough? We feel the same way every year at this time.”

Wings coach Mike Babcock a “big fan” of Joakim Andersson

DETROIT – You’re not going to find a much bigger fan of Joakim Andersson than his coach Mike Babcock.

“I’m a big fan of his,” Babcock said. “The way he works, smart player, he’s tough too … as a forward you don’t want to have to play against a player who’s going to be above you and always be around you and slow you down. He’s one of those really good two-way centers you need to win.”

Andersson, 24, got to the NHL a lot quicker than normal in the Wings’ system.

With the season-long injury to Darren Helm, Andersson filled in as the Wings’ third-line center. He was solid defensively and strong on faceoffs.

Andersson averaged just over 12 minutes of ice time during the regular season, totaling three goals and five assists in 38 games.

In the postseason his ice time went up a minute while registering a goal and four assists in 14 games.

“It gives you confidence when you get your minutes out there on the ice,” Andersson said. “I’m happy with that. I feel better and better each game in the preseason.”

His faceoff proficiency improved from the regular season to the playoffs. He won 46.4 percent of his draws during the lockout-shortened year and raised it to 55.9 percent in the playoffs.

The Wings rewarded him with a two-year $1.465 million contract extension in August.

“Andy’s done a good job for us, he’s a big player, he knows how to play,” Babcock said. “He’s earned everything he’s gotten. He’s come back quicker and stronger, so good for him.”

Becoming quicker and stronger is something Andersson, who’s 6-foot-2, 206 pounds, focused on during the offseason.

“Skating-wise, I’ve taken small baby steps every year since I was 12,” Andersson said. “I’ve been told I have to work on that. I’m getting better at that. Getting better at reading the game and being good defensively and trying to get better on faceoffs and all the small things I need to do.”

In Friday’s 5-2 win over Toronto, he was between two veterans – Todd Bertuzzi and Daniel Cleary.

“They’re good, they’re strong on the puck, they helped me out a lot, great experience, two good players,” Andersson said of Bertuzzi and Cleary.

Most of the preseason, Andersson centered Tomas Tatar and Gustav Nyquist.

“That should be my strength, reading the game,” Andersson said when pointed out how well he fits in with veterans and younger forwards. “If I can read the game it doesn’t really matter who’s out there. I just have to read the strengths the players have.”