DETROIT – Gustav Nyquist will finally get his chance with the Detroit Red Wings this season, but it’s at the expense of an injured up-and-coming blue liner.
Nyquist will be in the Wings’ lineup Thursday night against the Carolina Hurricanes after Detroit placed defenseman Danny DeKeyser on long-term injured reserve with an injured left shoulder.
“We have to win a game,” said Wings coach Mike Babcock, who would not comment after practice on whether Nyquist was being recalled from Grand Rapids. Nyquist was scratched from the Griffins’ lineup for Wednesday’s game with Milwaukee.
Nyquist, whose NHL salary is $950,000 compared to DeKeyser’s $925,000, leads Grand Rapids with seven goals and 14 assists.
Once Nyquist plays two games he’ll have to stay in Detroit since he’ll have to pass through waivers in order to be sent back to the Griffins.
First, the Wings needed to recall Trevor Parkes to maximize their cap space for LTIR purposes. He’ll be sent down when Nyquist is recalled.
Nyquist, who may just play one game and get sent back to Grand Rapids if Stephen Weiss (groin) or Daniel Alfredsson (groin) are ready to return, could play in the Wings’ top six forwards Thursday if how they practiced was an indication.
Babcock had Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk split up at practice and dressed only five skaters in Red and six in White.
“Whatever we have to do to win a game and get going from there so everyone can breathe a little bit, we’ll do,” said Babcock, whose team is winless in its last seven (0-2-5) and has gone eight straight games on home ice without a win (0-2-6). “Our best play was from obviously those guys together and in saying that you have to have more than two guys going.”
Datsyuk skated with Todd Bertuzzi and Daniel Cleary, while Zetterberg and Johan Franzen were paired together.
“That’s what they do and that’s why they’re so great,” Cleary said of Datsyuk and Zetterberg. “They’re dynamic together and they can jump start guys’ seasons.”
Darren Helm centered the third line alongside Tomas Tatar and Justin Abdelkader, while Joakim Andersson was in the middle between Drew Miller and Mikael Samuelsson.
“We need to win a game,” Babcock said. “So I don’t care where that game is. And the next one is at home. But the big thing here is let’s get going, let’s get playing so you can relax. (Tuesday) when we gave up the first goal of the game, we had the puck and gave it away on a penalty kill. We could have got it out, we didn’t, but our body language was like, ‘Ugh.’ What is that? So what, we gave up a goal. Play the game, you’ll be fine.”
Alfredsson and Weiss both are out Thursday.
Weiss could return by this weekend, while Alfredsson is still not practicing fully with the team.
DeKeyser, whose shoulder won’t require surgery, will miss 3-6 weeks, which sidelines him a minimum 10 games and 24 days. The earliest he could return would be Dec. 14 against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
“It’s a bad break for us,” defenseman Jonathan Ericsson said. “He’s been playing unbelievable for us here. I thought he started the season really well and I think he’s just been building off of that and gotten even better.”
Ericsson just returned after missing 10 games with a shoulder injury.
“We had really good momentum going with him,” Ericsson said. “I know he’s sad about being out of the lineup and not being able play for a while. I’ve been through that too with the same thing, he’s a young guy and will come back quickly. The way he skates he’ll be back quickly.”
That leaves Detroit with six healthy defensemen.
“We didn’t have him last year, he got hurt last year too if I’m not mistaken,” Babcock said. “You just got him and started liking him and he got hurt, so people get hurt. That’s hockey. The more depth that you have the less you notice it. (Brian) Lashoff was supposed to be the seventh D. I don’t know how many games Lash has played? Pretty much every game, so whether it is (Brendan Smith), whether it is DeKeyser, guys get hurt. That’s life.”