DETROIT – The Detroit Red Wings have two pre-season exercises and two more games to piece together what coach Derek Lalonde describes as a jigsaw puzzle – the season’s opening 23-player roster.
Potential bubble players include Simon Edvinson, Elmer Soderblom, Jonathan Berggren, NHL youth players with limited experience Joe Felino and Givani Smith, and veteran Stephen Kampfer.
Everyone trained on Thursday with the main group before the weekend games against Toronto, on Friday at Little Caesars Arena (7:30, Bally Sports Detroit) and Saturday at Scotiabank Arena (7pm).
Lists must be set by 5 p.m. on Mondays. The Red Wings may reveal their decisions on Sunday.
All the players fighting for jobs have faced ups and downs in the camp, Lalonde said.
It’s going to be tough,” Lalonde said. “But I think it’s a step in the right direction. Steve (General Manager Yzerman) and his group have crafted really well, and they’ve been off season really well. We have the luxury of some depth. I’m glad we’re having these tough conversations.”
Lalonde called the decision on whether 19-year-old Edvinson should develop at Grand Rapids, where he scored plenty of minutes in all situations, versus Detroit, where ice time and pit team minutes would be more difficult. , is a difficult balance.
“Seven, eight years ago, there was no thinking, he started in the American Hockey League,” Lalonde said. “Today and age, the era of the cap, there’s a rapid evolution, and that’s the reality. It’s something we talk about on a daily basis. There’s this balance between touches and minutes that he’d look like in the NHL versus what he’d look like in the NHL.”
Edvinsson, the sixth overall pick in 2021, has been paired almost exclusively with Gustav Lindstrom, who will likely be his Detroit partner. Lalonde said Edvinson has made progress in both power play and penalty kick play. Laserman indicated before camp that Edvinson would need to play in at least one specialty unit to get started in Detroit.
“On the penalty kick, he showed a really long stick, and he showed his ability to be a little bit harder than I had previously anticipated,” Lalonde said. “He showed good anticipation about that. And playing the power, same thing.
“In some games, you can see him doing it across the board — five against five, PP, PK. And then there are some games where you can see the areas where he develops. Ultimately, when he’s ready to be a daily NHL player, you’ll see him. He plays in all three of these positions.”
The top four appear in Detroit with husbands Ben Chariot, Moritz Sider and Ole Mata, Philip Hronick. Edvinson is vying with Lindstrom and veterans Jordan Austerle, Campfer and injured Robert Haag for second place.
6-8 Soderblom and Berggren, coming from a solid rookie season at Grand Rapids, are unlikely to make the team unless they play in one of the top three lines.
Lalonde appears to be leaning toward having Dylan Larkin with Tyler Bertozzi and Lucas Raymond in the first row, and Andrew Cobb with David Perron and Jacob Frana in the second row. That would leave centers Pius Sutter, Michael Rasmussen and wingers Dominic Kopalek, Philip Zadina, Adam Ernie and Oscar Sundqvist vying for third-line places.
If Velino, exempt from waiver, makes the team, he will likely be the fourth-line center. Smith will also enter the 4th line or perhaps the 13th line ahead.
Lalonde said there is no advantage in carrying 14 strikers and seven defenders or 13 strikers and eight defenders.
He also said that he may wear 11 forwards and seven defensemen in some matches.
“Something I’ve had some success with in the past,” Lalonde said. “In a perfect world, you get some of the best (attackers) more minutes. There are times when it is uncomfortable, especially if you get an injury while the match is still going on.”
Lalonde is confident that Kopp (off-season abdominal surgery) will be ready for the opening game, saying he may have been available for a regular game this weekend. He said Sundqvist, who has yet to skate with the main group, may train early next week.
Haag, who was hit in the head with a puck in the red/white match on September 25, will need more time but may train next week.