Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Health has been a recent issue for the aging Detroit Red Wings. They barely made the playoffs in 2013 because of injuries taking chunks out of their lineup on a nightly basis, and the problem has apparently already kicked in for the 2013-14 campaign.
General manager Ken Holland made several splashes in the free-agency pool, signing Daniel Alfredsson and Stephen Weiss, presumably to create a strong second line with Johan Franzen. That trio has yet to skate together, though, and while it is just the preseason, now is the time to start building chemistry.
Not Christmas time. Which, at this rate, will be approximately when Franzen, Weiss and Alfredsson will all be simultaneously healthy.
MLive.com is reporting that Darren Helm has started skating with the team again, but his long-awaited return is anything but imminent.
Backup goaltender Jonas Gustavsson pulled his groin after managing to play for 40 consecutive minutes and will be out around three weeks. Mike Babcock talked to USA Today about the injury:
"He hurt his groin. I thought he played well until he hurt his groin. We say day-to-day, and then in seven to 10 days, we start talking about him playing in two weeks."
Goaltending prospect Petr Mrazek is next on the depth chart, but Detroit doesn't want him warming the bench and helping keep track of line changes in the NHL. They want him logging big minutes with the defending AHL champion Grand Rapids Griffins, but he might have to back up Jimmy Howard for a month or more.
Then there's the interesting case of Dan Cleary, whom the Red Wings unexpectedly re-signed. That takes a roster spot away from either Tomas Tatar or Gustav Nyquist, which is unfortunate because they've both more than paid their dues for the organization.
It's been a choppy start to a season where the Wings hope to be among the teams seriously capable of contending for the Stanley Cup.