Last weekend, Katie Strang of the Athletic did a feature on Grand Rapids Griffins’ defenseman Joe Hicketts. A notable item from it is the assertion of Daniel Cleary that Hicketts nearly made the Red Wings’ roster out of training camp.
“He was close to making our team this year,” said longtime Red Wings forward Daniel Cleary, now a director of player development with the organization. “Very, very damn close.”
Yesterday, Peter Flynn from Winging it in Motown ran with that, suggesting that Hicketts should be in the Detroit lineup with Danny DeKeyser now expected to miss enough time to go on long-term injured reserve.
I agree with Flynn. It was understandable to not bring Hicketts up when DeKeyser went down because he wasn’t expected to have to go on LTIR, which means there wouldn’t have been enough cap space for the call-up. Now that we know DeKeyser will miss at least ten more days (and four more games), it’s time to give Hicketts a look.
That said, this is the Red Wings we’re talking about. They’re not going to sit Niklas Kronwall or Jonathan Ericsson for being (relatively) terrible because the vets on this team are allowed to play through their issues. They may swap Hicketts in for Xavier Ouellet or Nick Jensen but my gut feeling is that’s not the change fans are clamoring for.
There is an in for Hicketts, however. Last season the Red Wings brass said they wanted to limit Kronwall’s playing time in certain situations and, while they didn’t say as much coming into this season, one has to think it still holds true. One of those situations just happens to be coming in a week, with the Wings headed through Western Canada and playing on back-to-back nights in Edmonton and Vancouver.
The Red Wings could easily use that opportunity to get a look at Hicketts without stepping on any of their veterans’ toes.
It’s telling that Hicketts hasn’t been called up yet. It’ll be even more telling if he doesn’t get a look early next week out west.
Update – 10/31, 12:00 PM: WIIM’s Prashanth Iyer shows that my eye test of Kronwall and Ericsson doesn’t seem to stand up.
I don’t mean to alarm anyone but the top-3 players on the Wings in 5v5 xGF% relative to their teammates are:
— Prashanth Iyer (@iyer_prashanth) October 31, 2017
With that the case, and knowing that the Red Wings aren’t going to sit Trevor Daley or Mike Green in favor of Hicketts, you’re looking at benching Nick Jensen or Xavier Ouellet to make room. Now they’ve got the room to do that but do you? I don’t know if I should, but I hesitate. Maybe that’s more of a failing eye test thing, though.