Red Wings: Jonatan Berggren gets a chance to prove he belongs

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A top Detroit Red Wings forward prospect, Jonatan Berggren, will have an opportunity to prove to the organization that he belongs in the NHL during the team’s upcoming west coast road trip.

The ultra-talented playmaking forward made his Red Wings debut this past Thursday in Detroit, and the early reviews of his play leave us very optimistic. Despite being blown out by the New York Rangers to the tune of 8-2, Detroit’s fourth line became the lone bright spot. It’s a miracle we could find anything positive to take from a loss of that nature, but I found something.

Jonatan Berggren quickly gelled with center Joe Veleno Thursday night. The two played on a line together for a short period last season with the Grand Rapids Griffins. Berggren showed veteran-like patience on the wall cradling the puck and eventually setting up Veleno for a beautiful goal following a nifty give-and-go.

The third member of that fourth line on Thursday night was Austin Czarnik. Czarnik recorded his first goal as a member of the Red Wings earlier in the week against Montreal in Detroit’s 3-2 shootout loss. Oddly, in Detroit’s 8-2 blowout loss, each member of the fourth line just mentioned played to a plus 1.

Along with Berggren, the Detroit Red Wings recalled forward Givani Smith following the injury to Matt Luff. Rookie forward Elmer Soderblom was forced to miss the Rangers game due to a foot injury after blocking a shot against Montreal and is considered day-to-day. Detroit did get Oskar Sundqvist back Thursday, and it appears more help is on the way. Tyler Bertuzzi will travel with the team out west and is expected to return Tuesday in Anaheim or Thursday in San Jose possibly. Defenseman Jake Walman is also likely to return to Detroit’s lineup during the road trip, which is good news for the Red Wings. Robert Haag has struggled mightily at times this season paired with Gustav Lindstrom. Although Lindstrom is anything but a household name, he’s been a valuable penalty-killing, defensive-minded defender.

Detroit Red Wings forward Jonatan Berggren will have an opportunity to prove that he belongs.

Detroit lost Luff and Zadina long-term. With Bertuzzi set to occupy one spot soon, probably Czarnik’s, that leaves Berggren competing with the likes of Soderblom for a final spot. It’s simple if Berggren continues to thrive while in Detroit’s lineup, he will remain with the club.

Soderblom earned an opening night roster spot which was somewhat surprising but since has cooled off considerably. Soderblom looked really comfortable early on playing with Michael Rasmussen and Oskar Sundqvist. Soderblom scored two goals over Detroit’s first five games but hasn’t recorded a point since (eight games). In his last game against Montreal, he didn’t look very comfortable playing on Detroit’s fourth line, where Berggren had been inserted Thursday. Soderblom seemed to be pushed off the puck much too easy for a man his size, and although it’s clear that he’s gifted offensively, he struggled to find any space to work in the contest.

If Berggren continues to perform like he did Thursday and shows the same poise he did during Detroit’s west coast trip, don’t be caught off-guard if it’s Soderblom sent back to Grand Rapids for a stint as he tries to round out his game.

Berggren set a rookie record last season, with the Griffins leading the team with 64 points, including 21 goals over 70 games. Berggren missed a few games to begin this season but, in seven games, recorded seven points in Grand Rapids before being called up.

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