One week into the preseason and the Red Wings are already riddled with injuries. It started with Niklas Kronwall. The 37-year-old missed all of training camp and hasn’t played a preseason game yet as he’s been nursing back spasms. Then, Ryan Sproul failed his physical after offseason knee surgery, Justin Abdelkader tweaked his groin, and Henrik Zetterberg got a kink in his neck. Most recently, it was announced that Tyler Bertuzzi would miss 3-4 weeks with a tendon inflammation in his wrist.
#RedWings Tyler Bertuzzi has tendon inflammation and will be out 3-4 weeks.
— Ansar Khan (@AnsarKhanMLive) September 23, 2017
With the exception of Bertuzzi, these all seem like fairly minor injuries. Kronwall is skating with the team again (though has yet to play in a scrimmage or exhibition game) and Abdelkader and Zetterberg are due back next weekend. Still, seeing injuries, no matter how minor, to key players this early in the season leaves one feeling uneasy. Spasms to the back, kinks in the neck… These are the kinds of injuries that can snowball throughout the course of the season until somebody has to miss a lot of games for a long time.
As for Bertuzzi, his tendon inflammation couldn’t come at a worse time for the AHL Playoff MVP. After a strong showing at training camp, the 22-year-old will now certainly miss opening night at LCA. He was a front-runner for a roster spot that will now likely go to either Luke Witkowski or Martin Frk. Frk, in particular, is making a strong case for himself to be in the winged wheel on October 5. In the team’s first preseason game at LCA, he put up two goals and one assist.
Frk scores on a rocket from the point. 2 goals, 3 points on the night for him. Really showing off his shot pic.twitter.com/JSfEdy0F6R
— Prashanth Iyer (@iyer_prashanth) September 24, 2017
It’s got to be a tough pill to swallow for Bertuzzi who is one of the few NHL-ready players that can be sent back to Grand Rapids without having to clear waivers. If Frk starts the season and plays exceptionally, Bertuzzi could very well find himself back in Grand Rapids when he’s healed. I have no doubt that he’ll play in the NHL this season, but this injury definitely calls into question the certainty that many had that he’d be a Red Wing from day one.
Injuries are a regular part of every team’s NHL season, but they seem to be a consistent challenge for the Red Wings and their players. Last season, the Wings were 8th in man-games lost to injury, per NHLInjuryViz. They need their young players especially to be healthy and on the ice. Bertuzzi’s injury isn’t career-threatening, but it couldn’t come at a more inconvenient time for the young prospect. As for the vets, Zetterberg was Detroit’s best player last year and Abdelkader needs to bounce back in a big way. Here’s hoping they are back at full strength sooner rather than later.