Starting goalie: Tuukka Rask
Starting goalie: Jimmy Howard
Starting goalie: Tuukka Rask
Starting goalie: Jimmy Howard
Anthony Mantha made history. And the Detroit Red Wings made some memories playing their first regular season game in their new home.
Mantha scored the very first Red Wings regular season goal at Little Caesars Arena, breaking a scoreless deadlock late in the second period before Detroit prevailed in the third period for a 4-2 victory over the Minnesota Wild.
After the Wild worked its way back into the game, erasing a two-goal deficit, it was long-time Red Wings forward Henrik Zetterberg putting his team back in front, this time for good, before Martin Frk provided the insurance marker.
Devan Dubnyk made a spectacular save in the first period, channeling his inner Dominik Hasek with a sprawling effort.
He did allow four goals on 31 shots, while at the other end, Jimmy Howard was impressive with 37 saves, as he was busy throughout this contest.
This post is part of Red Wings Day on PHT…
First, a disclaimer — there were plenty of other viable candidates for this category. Probably more viable ones, to be honest.
Detroit’s AHL affiliate, the Grand Rapids Griffins, captured the Calder Cup last year on the strength of excellent performances from youngsters like Martin Frk, Evgeni Svechnikov and Tyler Bertuzzi, who captured playoff MVP.
All of them are looking to make the Wings on a full-time basis. But there’s another that says he wants to do the same, and he’s just a little more intriguing:
Rasmussen, 18, was taken ninth overall by Detroit at this year’s draft, the club’s highest pick since taking Keith Primeau at No. 3 in 1990. Now, the big-bodied power forward is looking to make a significant leap, all the way from WHL Tri-City to the NHL.
“I’m taking the approach that I’m going to take someone’s job and I’m going to take a spot on the team,” Rasmussen said at the World Junior Summer Showcase, per NHL.com. “I want to play in the NHL as fast as I can and I want to help the team win.”
Detroit’s organizational model has long been to send kids to the American League, at let ’em marinate. But times, they are a changing.
Two seasons ago, Dylan Larkin made the roster as a 19-year-old, going pro after his freshman campaign at the University of Michigan. Last year both Svechnikov (20) and Bertuzzi (22) saw games with the big club, while 22-year-olds Andreas Athanasiou and Anthony Mantha emerged as key parts of the lineup.
That could pave the way for Rasmussen getting an extended look. Especially since Detroit has the option to give him a nine-game NHL cameo before burning the first year of his entry-level deal.
Rasmussen has a few things working in his favor at the moment, too. The first is his size. At 6-foot-6, 215 pounds, he should be able to handle the physical rigors of the NHL. He’s proven to be a good net-front presence that can score in bunches on the power play, and it’s worth remembering that Detroit finished 27th in the league with the man advantage last year.
Rasmussen is also healthy. He was medically cleared from a wrist injury that derailed his season in Tri-City, which resulted in a late addition to the Canadian roster for the Summer Showcase. That came as a relief to Wings GM Ken Holland, who told NHL.com it was “important” the prized prospect was healthy for training camp.
Now look, the reality of the situation is that Rasmussen’s facing an uphill battle to make the opening-night roster. A return to junior seems the likely result. He’s already been named Tri-City’s captain for next season, and several pundits have said he’ll need a spectacular showing in the exhibition campaign to stick around.
But he’s still the highest-drafted Red Wing in 27 years. That alone makes the battle worth watching.
The Red Wings made a forward depth signing on Tuesday, agreeing to terms with AHL scorer Martin Frk.
Per the Free Press, it’s a one-year, two-way deal worth $650,000, and it comes after Frk was close to a point-a-game player en route to Grand Rapids’ Calder Cup championship in June.
Frk, 23, was originally taken 49th overall by Detroit in 2012. He’s been a consistently good scorer at the American League level — back-to-back 27 goal campaigns as proof — but hasn’t found similar success in the NHL.
Carolina claimed him off waivers last season, and played him in a pair of games before waiving him again. Detroit quickly scooped Frk up and shipped him right back to the Griffins.
At this year’s draft, Detroit head coach Jeff Blashill — who coached Frk in the minors — said the Czech sniper may need to make it in the big leagues as a power play specialist.
“Marty Frk has done a great job of scoring goals,” Blashill said, per the Free Press. “He is a really good shooter. He plays his best hockey when he is confident. Can he continue into the NHL? It just depends.
“For him to be a good NHL player, he is going to have to be a great power-play guy. Because his shot is his weapon. When he is hitting the net, he is a good weapon on the power play.”
What’s old is new again for the Red Wings.
Frk, 23, was taken 49th overall by Detroit at the 2012 draft and emerged as a quality goalscorer at the minor league level. He had 23 goals in 29 games for ECHL Toldedo two years ago, and 27 in 67 games for the Griffins last season — a big reason why Carolina claimed him off waivers.
After snagging Frk, ‘Canes GM Ron Francis praised the youngster’s offensive production in the AHL, saying Frk “has been a goal scorer at every level.”
Of course, that never materialized in Carolina.
The ‘Canes gave Frk his NHL debut earlier this month and dressed him for a subsequent game as well. Even though the two-game sample size was small, it was apparently more than enough to decide he wasn’t ready.
On Monday, the ‘Canes put Frk back on waivers.
Don’t expect to see Frk in Detroit anytime soon. Though the club did re-acquire him, it also immediately dispatched him to AHL Grand Rapids.