Red Wings-Blues games will be a reunion for former teammates

Detroit News

Detroit — It’s going to be quite the reunion, for a good portion of both teams’ lineups, Tuesday in St. Louis.

From the Red Wings’ side, you have forward David Perron, defenseman Jake Walman and goaltender Ville Husso all returning to St. Louis to face the Blues, where they played last season.

And you could have added forwards Robby Fabbri (lower-body) and Oskar Sundqvist (traded) to the list, but each are now unavailable.

From the Blues’ side, you have forward Jakub Vrana, defenseman Nick Leddy and goaltender Thomas Greiss all facing the Wings for the first time this season.

It’s a unique occurrence, with so many players facing who once were teammates.

“We know those guys pretty well,” Walman said of his former Blues’ teammates. “Whatever happens on the ice, or something happens there, we kind of get first-hand (information), we kind of know what is going on. My best friend in the hockey world is (Blues forward Jordan) Kyrou, and I talk to him every day, and I’ll be excited to see him.

“I’m hoping we can get a picture at the beginning of the game.”

Walman has many friends on and off the ice in St. Louis, who traded Walman and Sundqvist at the deadline last season for Leddy.

“It’ll be weird, it’ll be fun,” Walman said. “You have a lot of friends there, a lot of positive things (happened in St. Louis), I’m excited to play against those guys. They have a lot of good guys.

“We had even more guys it feels like when I came in here, a lot of Blues’ guys (Fabbri, Sundqvist). It’ll be familiar. We’ll try to go to dinner, all us guys, at some point. It’ll be a competitive game with all those guys.

“At the end of the day it’s just a hockey game, another hockey game for us, but at the same time it would be a lot sweeter to go into St. Louis and get a win. The guys will be motivated, even the guys that know us in the room will try to get the win.”

General manager Steve Yzerman and Blues GM Doug Armstrong have a good relationship going back many years, so that has helped fuel many of the recent moves.

Walman, Fabbri and Husso, presently, are all trade acquisitions, while Perron was a free-agent signing by Yzerman. From Armstrong’s perspective, Leddy and Vrana were trade acquisitions, while Greiss was a free-agent signing.

“I would think guys are motivated,” coach Derek Lalonde said of facing a former team. “It’s different situations (trades, free agency). It’s gone the other way, too, with Leddy and Vrana, who has been great there, and I’m sure it’ll be a little of that too. These guys are competitive by nature.”

One player Blues fans likely will embrace loudly is Perron, a fan favorite who many analysts felt would retire with the Blues. But the two sides couldn’t agree on a contract extension, forcing Perron into free agency.

“That’s someone I’d want on my team,” Walman said. “He lights up the room on and off the ice. You need guys like that. It’s really important here where we’re building a winning culture and he’ll be a big part of it for sure.”

Red-hot Vrana

The Wings dealt Vrana at the trade deadline to St. Louis for a seventh-round draft pick and minor-league player.

Vrana has six points (five goals, one assist) in seven games with the Blues.

After a troubled stay with the Wings, highlighted this season by being away two months to be in an NHL/NHLPA players assistance program, the Wings felt a trade was best for both the organization and Vrana.

“I don’t know if he was happy, but for sure there was some relief,” said forward Dominik Kubalik, a friend of Vrana. “He kind of felt like it was a fresh start and something new for him.”

Kubalik isn’t surprised Vrana has regained his goal-scoring touch.

“We know what kind of player he is,” Kubalik said. “He can score, skate, and there’s nothing why he wouldn’t be able to do that.”

Lalonde is happy to see Vrana thriving.

“The fresh start is good for him,” Lalonde said. “It looks like bigger picture, the success he’s having is probably more a reflection of where his life is away from the rink, which is great. I’m not surprised (at the success), I’m happy for him and I’m hoping he can sustain it, not through just this year but hopefully into next year, too.”

Ice chips

With defenseman Gustav Lindstrom still unable to play, rookie Simon Edvinsson was back in the lineup Monday against Florida. Lindstrom is day-to-day, and Edvinsson, who is with the Wings on an emergency call-up, will be returning to Grand Rapids when Lindstrom is ready to play.

There’s also the issue of the Wings not wanting to burn a year of Edvinsson’s three-year entry-level contract if he plays beyond nine games.

“We’re excited, he did some real good things the other day (Edvinsson’s debut Saturday) and there will be growth every minute he gets in this league,” Lalonde said.

.. Fabbri is doing some skating on his own, but a return this season is beginning to look unlikely.

“We’ll get to a point here to what’s more valuable for him,” Lalonde said. “A little more time to train and rehab, or get a handful of games. I know the competitive player in him wants those handful of games but it’ll be more (dependent) on the medical experts.”

Henrik Zetterberg, the former Wings’ captain and organizational legend, attended practice and skated with his young son. They attended Saturday’s game and will be in Detroit until later this week.

“I’ve always said having those guys around, and within our management team and our scouting team, it adds a little swagger to it,” Lalonde said. “These guys have won, they have personalities, and even our morning skate today, there was some pop to it. It might have been as simple as having him around.”

Red Wings at Blues

▶ Faceoff: 8 p.m. Tuesday, Enterprise Center, St. Louis

▶ TV/radio: BSD/97.1 FM

▶ Outlook: The Blues (31-33-5) have won two consecutive games and are stabilizing after selling off at the trade deadline. … The two teams return Thursday to play at Little Caesars Arena. … Kyrou (31 goals, 65 points) and C Robert Thomas (44 assists) lead offensively.

Twitter: @tkulfan

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