The Detroit Red Wings had their small share of representatives in the 2014 IIHF World Championships in Belarus on account of an early April playoff exit. Here’s how they did.
The tournament has concluded with Russia taking Gold, Finland taking Silver, and Sweden taking Bronze. Five Red Wings suited up for their respective countries and mostly all competed and represented their country and NHL team relatively well. We’ll start with the American representatives: Danny Dekeyser and Justin Abdelkader.
Danny Dekeyser: Dekeyser is known as a stay at home defenseman in Detroit with an incredible hockey sense and stickchecking ability. He brought his defensive tools to Minsk and turned in a solid effort, with two assists in eight games played along with sixteen penalty minutes. An unusual number for Dekeyser, usually a disciplined defenseman with 30 PIMS in 65 games played this past season.
The point total is low, but offense is not his game, at least not yet. Quiet, but smart on the ice and in his own zone. That’s Danny Dekeyser right now. The penalty minute total is a surprise but not a big concern, and the Wings should look forward to resigning the 24-year old hometown favorite. He is currently a restricted free agent but there should not be any concern about whether he will re-sign or not. Looking forward to seeing this kid blossom into an elite NHL defenseman.
Justin Abdelkader: Donning the “C” and #89 for probably the only time in his professional career, Abdelkader too turned in a nice result overseas. The 27-year old forward had a little bit of a down year from 2013, potting 10 goals and 18 assists over 70 games. In Minsk, he potted three goals and an assist in seven games played, racking up an enormous 31 penalty minutes. The Wings love Abby to have that grinder’s edge in Detroit, but he’s been known to take a tad too many penalties at inopportune times. He was also a subject of a little controversy with this hit on St. Louis Blues and Czech forward Vladimir Sobotka:
Abdelkader got five and a game for that hit despite a penalty not being called on the play.
Outside of his PIMs, Abdelkader had a solid offensive showing for his country, and hopefully he can carry it into 2014-15 for a rebound season in Hockeytown.
Tomas Tatar: “Tatar Sauce” had his share of contributions overseas as well in representing his country and team. Fresh off his first full season in the NHL where he totaled 39 points with 19 goals and 20 assists in 73 games played, he turned in a solid effort. He is a big part of the youth movement that has occurred with Detroit this past season, and he was one of the reasons the Wings got to the postseason for the 23rd consecutive time. His playoff numbers, as well has his rookie linemates’, weren’t anything to write home about, but in Minsk, he regained the touch.
Tatar put up four goals and four assists in seven games in the tournament, playing a sizable part in his country’s quest for a medal. Unfortunately, Slovakia did not medal, but the perfomance from Tatar was likely enough to easy any worries Ken Holland and company may have had. The priority now is to get the 23-year old restricted free agent signed for 2014-15 and beyond. From what Tatar showed in his first full season for his age this year, it is fun to think about how he will grow and mature with fellow teammates in the next wave of Red Wing stars.
Gustav Nyquist: Detroit Defenseman Niklas Kronwall said it best earlier this season: “He’s been our savior.” (detroitredwings.com)
Yes well, that’s one of the many words fans and players used to describe the contributions of Gustav Nyquist this season in Detroit. Not being able to play in Detroit due to a cap crunch and Detroit’s desire to go with veterans to start the season, Nyquist did not start the season in the NHL. Luckily, he did not complain. He had other things to do, like put up 21 points in 15 games in Grand Rapids. He finally got his call up on November 30th, and never looked back, putting up 48 points in 57 games.
In Minsk, he put up solid numbers as well, helping his team nab bronze in this year’s Tournament. Nyquist had four goals and two assists in 10 games played. A solid tournament for Nyquist, who enters restricted free agent status after the 2014-15 season. I, like many fellow Red Wing fans, are looking forward to seeing what this 24-year old kid from Halmstad can do with a full 82 game season on the horizon.
Jakub Kindl: Simply put, it was a regression campaign for Kindl in 2013-14. Kindl put up two goals and 17 assists and was a -4, a far cry from 2013’s +15 total. Kindl was never really an imposing defender and was caught constantly, getting exposed in his own zone a number of times. He is part of the relatively young Red Wing defense core and could be expendable if he does not rebound next season. Kindl, the 19th pick in the 2005 Entry Draft, has simply so far not lived up to the Wings’ expectations up to this point.
In the tournament however, he was relatively solid. Kindl was a +4, had a goal and two assists in 10 games. Not very noticable, but all in all not too bad for his defensively-minded game. Turning towards 2014-15, Kindl must have a rebound season. It can’t be stressed enough for this guy, as he might not even get a roster spot with the change that could come internally or through free agency. With guys like Xavier Ouellet, Alexey Marchenko, and Ryan Sproul on the way, Kindl has a lot of pressure on him to succeed next year in Detroit.
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Thank you for reading. Please take a moment to follow me on Twitter – @gSchroedes16. Griffin Schroeder also writes at thewingedwheel.wordpress.com. Support LWOS by following us on Twitter – @LastWordOnSport – and “liking” our Facebook page.