Danny DeKeyser returns to the Red Wings’ lineup on Tuesday, meaning that the Detroit blueline is back to 100% healthy. Despite that, call-up Xavier Ouellet remains on the roster, as forward Stephen Weiss has been placed on injured reserve to keep a spot available.
It’s undeniable at this point that Detroit head coach Mike Babcock thinks Ouellet is one of the top six defensemen available to him right now. Both Jakub Kindl and Brian Lashoff will sit against Columbus while Ouellet remains in. Whatever order you place Niklas Kronwall, Jonathan Ericsson, DeKeyser, Kyle Quincey, and Brendan Smith in, Ouellet is Detroit’s number six defenseman while Kindl is seventh and Lashoff is eighth.
Reportedly, Babcock wanted Ouellet up with the Red Wings to start the season but Detroit general manager Ken Holland couldn’t make it happen, as there were no takers on the trade market for Kindl.
When Weiss returns, assuming another player isn’t on IR by then, will Ouellet be sent back to Grand Rapids? One would think so, as that’s what happened to start the season, under the label of “asset management” (you don’t want to lose anyone for nothing).
That said, with the Wings fighting for the top spot in the conference, do you dump one of your top six defensemen in the minors? Or do you risk losing a player who isn’t playing anyway (Kindl or Lashoff) on waivers? Worst-case scenario in the latter option is losing a player you’re not playing anyway, though that’s a hit to organizational depth. If he clears, you keep the player but don’t get the salary cap relief, though Detroit isn’t against the cap right now so it doesn’t hurt them as much as it would have in seasons past.
I’m very curious as to how it’ll play out.