The Red Wings have five forwards battling for three, possibly even only two, open roster spots in Detroit. Sean Avery, Doug Brown, Stacy Roest, Jason Williams and Henrik Zetterberg are trying to make a roster that doesn’t have room for all of them.
Zetterberg, playing the North American game for the first time, has two goals and six assists in the first three scrimmages of training camp. He seems to have a lock on one of the open roster spots. As the only non-NHL player on the Swedish Olympic team last winter, Mats Sundin compared him to national hero Peter Forsberg.
“I don’t think so,” Zetterberg responded. “He’s (Forsberg) one of the best players in the world. I don’t think I’m much up to him.”
Williams is also making a strong push to join the Red Wings’ roster full-time. Playing on a line with Zetterberg, Williams had a hat trick in the first day of scrimmages. After playing in nine playoff games last spring, including an impressive Game Three in the Western Conference Finals against Colorado, Williams is ready to play a larger role in the Red Wings organization.
“Being out there definitely sort of opened my eyes, saying, ‘I could be a potential player, star player in this league, playing on a line like that,’ ” Williams said of that Game Three, when he played alongside Yzerman and Brendan Shanahan.
Avery is the Wings’ best agitator, but he won’t put up the numbers to get noticed in camp. Fighting is banned from Detroit’s preseason scrimmages but Avery has taken part in some shoving-matches, showing that the fire is still there.
“Everyone knows what I’m going to bring to the game,” Avery said. I don’t think they’re counting on me scoring 20 goals. I’m an energy guy who will try to wear down the other team’s defense for seven or eight minutes and add that as much as I can.”
Brown is attempting a comeback with the Red Wings after spending last season as a part-time color commentator with UPN 50 and Fox Sports Detroit. Wearing number 71 on his jersey after his familiar number 17 was taken by Brett Hull, Brown has been one of the most-watched players at camp. He said Monday he is close to where he wants to be physically.
Roest is starting his second tour of duty with the Red Wings organization. He’s coming off of two unimpressive seasons in Minnesota after being taken from the Red Wings by the Wild in the Expansion Draft. Roest has surprised the Red Wings before, making the Detroit roster in 1998-99 after an outstanding exhibition season.