How Jonatan Berggren can impress his way onto Detroit Red Wings roster

Detroit Free Press

The Detroit Red Wings know Jonatan Berggren can dazzle with the puck; they want to see him excel without it.

Berggren, a second-round pick from 2018, will have a chance this exhibition season to stake a claim on a spot on the Wings’ roster, or secure his name high on the depth chart should they need a call-up during the season.

“I just want to show them that I can play on this level, and come to know how to play at the NHL level,” Berggren said Tuesday. “Just go out there and have fun.”

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Berggren got some looks on a line with Dylan Larkin and Lucas Raymond during training camp, and made a good impresson.

“He has to continue to play at the level he has, and he has played very well,” coach Derek Lalonde said. “Now we want it consistently; now we want an every-day mentality. He’s had a really good camp, had a really good Red-White game. Now you’re doing it against live bullets, if you will, top NHL competition. I think it’s a really good test for him.”

Berggren benefited from Tyler Bertuzzi being sidelined the second day of camp with a flare-up of an undisclosed injury. Lalonde said Bertuzzi had a really good skate Tuesday morning, and that “he was out almost 40 minutes with our skills coach. He’s coming along nicely, and we are expecting him shortly.” The Wings host the Chicago Blackhawks Wednesday.

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With eight games in preseason, Berggren should see time with an NHL line and on a power play. The 22-year-old is an agile skater with nimble hands who can find seams to create scoring opportunities. He had 21 goals and 43 assists in 70 games last season with the Grand Rapids Griffins, producing at just under a point-per-game clip. Working closely with Griffins coach Ben Simon and the Wings’ development team, Berggren came away acclimated and confident.

“I’m feeling stronger on the puck and the ice,” he said. “Those are the two biggest things I learned last year.

“That’s how I want to play. It’s a little tougher here, you have less time and space, but I think I can play my game at the NHL level, so I hope I can show that these games.”

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The Wings don’t expect Andrew Copp (abdominal surgery) back until the first week of the season at the earliest, so someone — Michael Rasmussen, for example — will have to fill that role, which means there could be an opening in the bottom six. For Berggren to earn a spot, he’ll have to show off the skill set that made the Wings draft him at No. 33 four years ago, and does so while playing responsibly.

“What we’re trying to accomplish as a team, he needs to be good at — team defense, manage the puck, not having those risky turnovers, where now we’re spending time in our zone,” Lalonde said. “Continue to be who he is — he is an offensive guy, he makes little plays in tight areas. He creates offense, but we want a little more commitment the other way, too, which we are going to ask of our whole team.”

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 latest book, On the Clock: Behind the Scenes with the Detroit Red Wings at the NHL Draft is available from  Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Triumph Books. Personalized copies available via her e-mail.

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