DETROIT — Quick update from the Detroit Red Wings’ morning skate prior to their game tonight against the Carolina Hurricanes at Joe Louis Arena.
Gustav Nyquist will make his season debut and play in the top six group of forwards, skating alongside Henrik Zetterberg and Johan Franzen.
Nyquist would have made the team out of training camp, but because of the Wings’ roster size and the fact he could still be sent to Grand Rapids without having to clear waivers made him an easy roster decision for the team to make.
“Of course my goal was to make the team out of training camp and unfortunately I didn’t do that,” Nyquist said. “But I couldn’t think about it too much. I can’t stop playing just because I’m down in Grand Rapids. It’s still a great league. I get a lot of opportunities to develop down there, be a part of a great team. So I’ve been trying to work hard every day and get better.”
Nyquist leads the Griffins this season with seven goals and 14 assists.
The big question is will he play just the one game and go back to Grand Rapids because if he plays one more game in Detroit he’s out of options which means he will have to clear waivers to go back to the Griffins.
“Let’s just play tonight,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said when asked if the team plans to keep Nyquist in Detroit after tonight.
“I think we’ll take it day-by-day right now and we’ll see where it goes,” Nyquist said.
And he would almost certainly get claimed off waivers.
“He’s quick, generates offense, gives us another skilled player to play on our top six,” Babcock said. “We knew all along that we were going to try to get him here, we just financially had to way to do that.”
The signing of Daniel Cleary in a way squeezed Nyquist out of a roster spot.
Three players — Cory Emmerton, Jordin Tootoo and Patrick Eaves — off their roster have been waived and assigned to Grand Rapids this season.
“Well, his job, and no different tonight if I were him, he’s still allowed to go back to the minors, is be so good, tonight you put so much pressure on the coach and the manger that they have to do something about it,” Babcock said. “That’s what he’s done. That’s the only thing you can do as a player. The best players in the end get to play, they decide who gets to play because they play well enough to make it happen and he’s done a good job.”
Pavel Datsyuk will center Todd Bertuzzi and Cleary.
Nyquist’s promotion was able to occur when defenseman Danny DeKeyser was placed on long-term injured reserve with an injured left shoulder.
Nyquist’s NHL salary is $950,000 compared to DeKeyser’s $925,000.
Former Griffins teammate Tomas Tatar knows how Nyquist feels. Tatar would have had to clear waivers had he be assigned to Grand Rapids after training camp.
“You obviously want to be here,” Tatar said. “It is tough, but what can you do. They’re not doing it to you on purpose it’s just how it is and you have to respect that. I know Gus doesn’t have his head down or disappointed down there. He deserves to be up here.
“Down in Grand Rapids it’s fun to play,” Tatar added. “They have a good group of guys, a good coach and it’s really fun to be there. But this is what you’re dreaming of. It’s kind of hard to stay up.
There still was a possibility Nyquist would not have made his debut tonight because of the health of defenseman Kyle Quincey, who missed practice Wednesday.
Quincey injured his right knee in Tuesday’s 2-0 loss to the Nashville Predators.
“I don’t know what I can say or can’t say,” Quincey said of his injury. “It (happened) on the penalty kill behind the net. I don’t know if it was an accident or collision.”
Quincey will be paired with Brendan Smith tonight.