DETROIT – Who is defenseman Alexey Marchenko?
The Wings are soon going to find out.
Marchenko was recalled from Grand Rapids after Danny DeKeyser suffered a groin injury. He’s expected to make his NHL debut Saturday in Dallas.
“I don’t know much about him, he played in the KHL and he had a good camp,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said after practice Friday. “Every time I call down to Grand Rapids they say he’s their best guy. If you do well down there you get an opportunity here. It’s like anybody, you come up and try to make a case for yourself that you can stay, so that’s the opportunity he’s been given by the guys getting injured.”
Marchenko has two goals and 14 assists in his first season in the American Hockey League in 33 games. He’s also tied for the team lead with a plus-15 rating.
“Just keep the tempo don’t try to think too much, just go out there and do what brought you here,” Niklas Kronwall said. “If he keeps playing his style of game I think he’ll do just fine.”
Marchenko was the final pick in the 2011 entry draft after behind passed over in the 2010 draft.
“You tell me,” Kyle Quincey said when asked to describe Marchenko’s game. “It’s a good opportunity for him. It’ll be fun to see what kind of player he is. I know the coaching staff and management are real eager to check him out.
“You’re going to be nervous, that’s typical,” Quincey added. “Just try and keep it simple and try not to do too much. The game will come to him. It’s a good time to do it, we’re on the road. The boys will take care of him. It’ll be a good time.”
Marchenko has been paired on the blue line with Xavier Ouellet, who has played three games this season in Detroit, in Grand Rapids.
“You’re always excited when you’re first called up,” Marchenko said. “I was surprised. I’m happy that I’m here.”
The 6-foot-2, 212-pound right-hand shooting Marchenko spent four seasons in the CSKA Moscow system, one with the top team where he had four goals and five assists in 44 games.
“I got a contract with CKSA, so I finished it,” Marchenko said. “My goal was to work until the end of the contract and then think (about) what to do. I’m done with them. (The Wings) offered me a contract here so I decided to try here.”
“Most of the guys who play hockey it’s a goal to reach NHL level,” Marchenko added. “I think if you get a small chance to get here, you have to take it.”
He’s known as a strong skater and a good puck mover.
“He’s a great defensive player in our zone and very smart,” said Petr Mrazek, who played in Grand Rapids with him. “He’s always where he’s supposed to be. He skates well, he’s a smart player.”
Gustav Nyquist agrees with Mrazek’s assessment of Marchenko.
“He is a real solid, well-rounded player,” Nyquist said. “I think he’s a great D-man, plays good defensively and has offensive abilities as well. He has a great shot and good vision.”
Marchenko, 22, also has a good grasp of English which helps.
“(The Wings were) one of the favorite teams for most of the guys in Russia because of the Russian Five,” Marchenko said. “I followed most of the guys.”
DeKeyser suffered the groin injury early in the second period of the Winter Classic.
“I started feeling it during the game a little bit and then just kind of played through it,” said DeKeyser, who didn’t practice. “The trainers just kind of said let’s wait and see, take it day-by-day and go from there.”
DeKeyser had just returned after missing 15 games with a separated shoulder. He has two goals and eight assists in 27 games.