Red Wings’ Soderblom is day-to-day; Jonatan Berggren to make NHL debut

Detroit News

Detroit — Coach Derek Lalonde hadn’t yet been able to contact forward Jonatan Berggren by Thursday morning fo let him know the good news.

Berggren was being called up to be in the Red Wings’ lineup in eight hours to face the New York Rangers.

The Wings recalled Berggren from Grand Rapids Thursday morning, along with forward Givani Smith. The Griffins played in Cleveland Wednesday night, but the contact numbers Lalonde had for Berggren didn’t work.

“I called him with the one number and it was out of service,” Lalonde said after Thursday’s morning skate. “The second number, I left a message (but no call back). You know before him and his parents and his family and everyone else. But again, that’s sometimes the uniqueness of these last-second calls.

“He’ll find out shortly, and I’m sure the wheels will start spinning for him.”

Berggren was called up because Elmer Soderblom is suddenly day-to-day because of an undisclosed injury. Smith was recalled to be the extra forward for the Wings.

Berggren, 22, is one of the Wings’ top prospects. Berggren had seven points (four goals, three assists) in seven games with the Griffins. Last season in Grand Rapids, Berggren (5-foot-11, 197-pounds) set franchise records for a rookie with 43 assists, 64 points, seven game-winning goals and three overtime goals.

The Wings would have preferred to wait and recall Berggren for a longer type of stay in the NHL. But the recent rash of injuries changed the plan.

“He’s doing great in the American League, a leading scorer, and we want him to develop offensively,” Lalonde said. “I don’t think it’s fair to him to plug him in a seven- or eight-minute role, which he might see (Thursday). We’ll see how the game plays out, but this was an emergency and we need a body, and he fit.

“He has skill, and in our lineup when we’re lacking skill, it hurts us with our 200-foot (game) and our breakouts. He’s a guy who is skilled and he can help us throughout the entire sheet (of ice).”

Berggren was a 2018 second-round draft pick by the Wings, and he made a competitive run toward a roster spot during September’s training camp.

“He’s a skilled player,” Lalonde said. “There are some things we’ll ask of him and be realistic of our expectations tonight. It’s a tough ask of him, having played in Cleveland last night and showing up today, but there’s something always special about that energy in your first NHL games.

“Our guys will be very excited for him.”

Lalonde expects a seamless transition into the Wings’ lineup for Berggreen, just as Soderblom had, because of the number of exhibition games the young players had in September and October.

“That’s why you have camp,” Lalonde said. “These guys had a ton of exhibition games, especially Berggren, guys like Soderblom and Simon (Edvinsson, currently in Grand Rapids). There’s a reason we gave them a ton of games, and that’s part of it; they’ll be seamless coming up. He knows everyone, the guys like him, the “Swedish Mafia” (large contingent of Swedish Red Wings) will be there to greet him when he walks into the room. There will be familiarity.

“But that’s what camp is for, the whole development process the last couple of years with him in camp and spending time with us.”

Recalling Berggren and Smith doesn’t necessarily mean the two will join the Wings on the upcoming road trip through Los Angeles, Anaheim, San Jose and Columbus.

Oskar Sundqvist was scheduled to return to the Wings’ lineup against the Rangers, and while Soderblom is day-to-day, Tyler Bertuzzi (hand) is expected to return either Saturday in Los Angeles or Tuesday in Anaheim.

The Wings will take a wait-and-see approach with Smith and Berggren heading into the road trip.

“We’ll have a better feel (Friday),” Lalonde said. “Givani was basically our extra body today in case something went south in 24 hours, which of late has actually been happening.”

Ice chips

Lalonde reinserted Robert Hagg into the lineup on defense, while sitting Jordan Oesterle. Both have been positives in the lineup, but Lalonde simply wants both to stay sharp with game action.

“He (Oesterle) helps us with cleaner breakouts, helps transition the puck, and we spend less time in the zone when he gets first touches,” Lalonde said. “He’s been good. (But) we’ll have Hagg in (Thursday) and it’s nothing on Jordan, just basically the same reason Jordan got his first game three or four weeks ago. We need all of our defensemen going. Hagg has given us a lot of good hockey this year. It’s a good luxury to have seven (defensemen) going right now.”

… Lalonde said forward Matt Luff (wrist) was scheduled to have surgery Thursday. As announced the day before, Luff will be out for two to three months.

Twitter: @tkulfan

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