The jokes about the median age of the roster of the Detroit Red Wings may soon come to a screeching halt, if the players waived, sent down, and released are any indicators.
We could see up to five new players make their NHL debuts on Thursday night when the Red Wings take on the Columbus Blue Jackets in the season opener. The defense, thanks to multiple injuries, is a much bigger question mark, but coach Jeff Blashill has stated that forwards Michael Rasmussen and Christoffer Ehn will make their debuts for sure. Defenseman Dennis Cholowski is also slated to dress for the game.
On the back end, Mike Green (virus) will still not be ready to play, and there’s no current timetable on his return. Trevor Daley (lower body) is doubtful for the opener as he’s not even been skating with the team. Jonathan Ericsson (upper-body) and Niklas Kronwall both appeared to suffer setbacks on Sunday and more than likely will not take the ice on Thursday. All these injuries and questionables have made the possibility for young defensemen Libor Sulak, Joe Hicketts, and Filip Hronek to make the opener lineup possible as well.
Cholowski believed he was NHL-ready after the Prospects Tournament and thinks he’s ready to quarterback the power play.
“I had a lot of chances to do it in preseason and was able to kind of show what I can do on the power play,” Cholowski said.
Rasmussen will take a lower-defensively responsible role on the wing, and will look to be an additional impact player on the Red Wings’ power play. At 6’6″ and 231 pounds, his massive body will be a much-needed net-front presence for Detroit on the power play. Coach Blashill thinks so as well.
“Cholowski showed me more than I realized he had on the power play with his poise and some of the plays he made,” Blashill said. “He’s really good at being able to get the puck in from the offensive blue line so he’s a shooting threat from up top.
“And when you pair him with Rasmussen in front — Rasmussen’s great at screening, he’s a huge body, he knows how to move out of the way at the right time, he’s got a pretty good stick around the net. Rasmussen (has) the potential to be a real elite net-front guy and Cholowski may be a little more of a shooting threat than we’ve had.”
Along with the ending of captain Henrik Zetterberg’s playing career, as well as the injuries to many veteran players, this team has a much younger look to it going into the start of the season. If their 7-1-0 end to the preseason is any kind of indicator, that may not turn out to be a bad thing at all.