DETROIT >> Defenseman Xavier Ouellet will have to do what Gustav Nyquist did last season to make the Wings’ roster … wait for a call up.
Ouellet, along with goalie Petr Mrazek were assigned to Grand Rapids on Tuesday to help get the Wings to the 23-man roster limit prior to the 5 p.m. deadline.
Pavel Datsyuk was also placed on injured reserve, which allowed the team to keep Andrej Nestrasil on the roster for now.
“You’re talking to the wrong guy,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said when asked about the roster after practice Tuesday at Joe Louis Arena. “I think there are lots of players knocking on the door.
“I got my two cents in, so I get one vote,” Babcock continued. “He (Ken Holland) gets two. So he can win, 2-1. It’s almost exactly like that at home, I get one vote and my wife gets two, and I lose 2-1 lots.”
Babcock had Ouellet paired with Kyle Quincey for a second straight practice.
“I come to practice every day to get ready for Thursday so we’ll see what’s going to happen,” Ouellet said prior to finding out the news. “I do feel good. I think I’ve had a pretty good camp. I’ve played some good hockey. I’m really happy to be here right now. I’m going to enjoy it and try and have a little chemistry with Quincey here.”
Ouellet was battling for a spot on the roster with Jakub Kindl and Brian Lashoff, who are both on one-way contracts.
Ouellet, who doesn’t have to clear waivers to be sent down, finished tied for the team lead with two goals this preseason.
“For sure I’ll be disappointed (if I get sent down), but at the same time I’ve got to keep working,” Ouellet said. “I’ve got to keep doing my stuff. I’ll go down there and play hockey and do my best and get ready if they need me up here.”
Nyquist was a victim of being waiver-exempt when he was sent down last season, but due to a rash of injuries was called back up and finished the season in Detroit.
“You have to try not to under (the business side of things) actually,” Ouellet smiled. “You just have to go with the flow and see what happens. It’s a big business. There’s a lot of stuff as players that we don’t know. All you can control is your game and as players that’s what we’re trying to do.”
Nestrasil made the biggest leap from Monday’s practice, going from a gray jersey to white to skate alongside Darren Helm and Gustav Nyquist.
“I’m more than pleased,” Nestrasil said. “If you would have asked me a couple weeks before the camp I would tell you 99-percent they would send me down. I thought I was going to get two exhibition games and I ended up playing five. Camp was really and I’m glad to still be here.
“For me when I’m thinking about it either way is going to be good,” Nestrasil added before he knew he had made the roster. “I think I’ve done the most I could during camp. I did even better than I expected to do. If I stay here and play with the Red Wings or if I’m going to go down and play 20 minutes a game in Grand Rapids I’m still at the age where I’ve got to get my game better. I still have to get better every year. Either way is going to fine with me.”
Nestrasil would have to be placed on waivers and clear them before being assigned to Grand Rapids.
Babcock even had Nestrasil on the second power play unit with Tomas Jurco, Tomas Tatar, Riley Sheahan and Danny DeKeyser.
“Yesterday I was on the gray line, today I was on a power play line, we’ll see what happens tomorrow,” Nestrasil smiled. “If you try and find a sign you can find a sign in everything. If my sticks are on one side or the other it doesn’t change anything. We’ll see what happens these next couple of days and then see on Thursday if I’m going to play or not.”