Detroit Red Wings stock watch: Jonathan Bernier rising, Anthony Mantha dipping

Detroit Free Press

Helene St. James
 
| Detroit Free Press

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The Detroit Red Wings face a fresh week with another veteran on waivers and disparate performances from others on the team.

It was a turbulent weekend, as the Wings were roiled by a devastating loss, an embarrassing performance — and a bit of redemption.

They continue a six-game homestand by hosting the Nashville Predators on Tuesday and Thursday, hoping to build on the good work that led to victory Saturday. Frans Nielsen may or may not be around for those games, as he was placed on waivers Sunday.

The Wings went 1-2-1 over the past week, losing a pair of close games to the Chicago Blackhawks, getting blown out by the Florida Panthers — it was after Friday’s game the Wings found out longtime masseur Sergei Tchekmarev had died — and battling to a 2-1 victory Saturday against the Panthers.

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Here are three players whose stock rose during the week, and three whose did not:

Three up

Jonathan Bernier: Jeff Blashill expressed hesitancy about relying on Bernier as much as the Wings did over the weekend, given Bernier had just come off an upper-body injury the previous week. He cleaned up the last two periods of Friday’s mess and starred Saturday as the starter, making 38 saves on 39 shots. The Wings sometimes make it hard on their goaltenders because of sloppy coverage, but Bernier has a .910 save percentage and 2.74 goals-against average in eight appearances.

Robby Fabbri: This is his second straight appearance in this category. He has two assists over the past week, giving him seven points in 12 games. (Remember, he missed two weeks with COVID-19 and needed a couple of games to regain his timing.) He has solidified his position as second-line center and makes his linemates better. Fabbri, 25, has been a great story since being acquired in a trade Nov. 6, 2019, tallying 38 points in 64 games, second on the Wings behind only Dylan Larkin (52) and Tyler Bertuzzi (41).

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Mathias Brome: He finally got his first NHL point Saturday when he connected on Dylan Larkin’s rebound, scoring the winning goal in his 18th game. Such a drought might have warranted being scratched, but Brome, 26, has been a regular in the top-six mix and on power plays. The Wings like Brome’s hustle and smarts and figured at some point he’d break through offensively as he adjusted to the smaller ice surface in his first year of North American hockey.

Three down

Anthony Mantha: Mantha had no points and a minus-4 rating in four games over the past week. He should be way more noticeable for a guy who is 6-foot-5 and can skate the way he can. Mantha signed an offseason deal for four years and $22.8 million. His $5.7 million cap hit is the second-highest for a player signed by the Wings. (Marc Staal has the same AAV, but he was acquired in a trade.) Mantha hasn’t performed to expectations, with nine points and a minus-9 rating in 19 games.

Thomas Greiss: While Bernier finds ways to make saves even when his teammates leave him exposed to high-danger chances, Greiss is a different story. Over the past week, he posted a .811 save percentage and 4.96 GAA in two starts. He was pulled Friday after allowing four goals on 13 shots. Overall, he has a .891 save percentage and 3.16 GAA, with one victory in 13 starts. Those aren’t the numbers the Wings were hoping for when they signed Greiss in the offseason for two years and $6 million.

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Frans Nielsen: Nielsen has three assists in 18 games. He has done a good job defensively — he has had a minus rating in only three games — but was placed on waivers to facilitate assigning him to the taxi squad if he clears. There’s little chance he’ll be claimed, as Nielsen, 36, is signed through next season 22 with a $5.25 million cap hit (his actual salary next season is $3 million). Last week, the Wings waived veteran defenseman Danny DeKeyser as a roster-flexibility move; this is similar.

Contact Helene St. James at hstjames@freepress.com. Follow her on Twitter @helenestjames. Read more on the Detroit Red Wings and sign up for our Red Wings newsletter. Her book, The Big 50: The Detroit Red Wings is available from AmazonBarnes & Noble and Triumph Books. Personalized copies available via her e-mail. 

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