The Detroit Red Wings will be without Tyler Bertuzzi and Jakub Vrana for the foreseeable future. Tyler Bertuzzi and Jakub Vrana are both going to miss extended periods, both for different reasons. Bertuzzi left Saturday's game with an upper-body injury and is expected to miss 4-6 weeks. On the other hand, Vrana is in a bit more tricky situation. He has been removed from the team's active roster and is now in the NHL/NHLPA Player Assistance Program. A timetable for his return has not been announced. These announcements come with a bevy of roster decisions for the Detroit Red Wings. Who will replace Bertuzzi on the first line? Same for the second line: who will replace Vrana in that role? If the first game after these announcements was any indication, the team wouldn't be looking very far for these solutions.
Top Line Opening
Newcomer Dominik Kubalik played on the first line with Dylan Larkin and Lucas Raymond in Tuesday's game against the Los Angeles Kings. Second-year forward Filip Zadina jumped into the lineup and played on the second line with Andrew Copp and David Perron. Will these be the expected line combinations moving forward, though?
Kubalik, who signed a two-year deal for $5 million this offseason, scored 30 goals in his 2019-20 rookie season with the Chicago Blackhawks. He has already chipped in a goal and two assists in three games and has shown a tendency to be in the right place at the right time early on in his Detroit Red Wings tenure. Whether or not he remains a fixture on the top line is certainly up for debate, but it seems likely that he will remain there for the time being.
Second Line Openinghttp://gty.im/1430548208
As for the spot on the second line, it seems likely that David Perron and Andrew Copp will fill two spots. Filip Zadina not only fits the bill for the type of player who can fill the open space on the second line but is also in a position where he truly needs this opportunity. It's no secret that he has not lived up to the expectations that were set for him upon arriving in the NHL. In his 161 career games with the Detroit Red Wings, he has scored 25 goals and 36 assists. A far cry from what we may have expected after he vowed to “fill the nets” of opposing teams on draft night.
Zadina was a healthy scratch in each of the first two games this season. His introduction to the lineup saw him post 14:25 in ice time, without registering a shot on goal. Again, it was his first time seeing the ice this season. But if he wants to remain in a top-six role, he'll need to find the back of the net at some point.
Ideally, Things Will Be “Normal” Again Soon
It goes without saying that the ultimate goal is for Bertuzzi and Vrana to return to the ice as soon as possible. But in the meantime, the Detroit Red Wings at least have options. The depth moves that the team made over the offseason will be pushed to produce, but this is the NHL and that is expected. Perhaps a surprise to some, the Red Wings have started the year without losing a game in regulation. They currently hold a 2-0-1 record, with their next game coming on Sunday.
Not to be forgotten are fellow youngsters Michael Rasmussen, Pius Suter, and Elmer Soderblom, all of which may be asked to step in and cover some time in the top six as well. Whether or not the line combinations change in the short term or not, there is at least a level of comfort with what head coach Derek Lalonde has to work with on the roster at this point.