Simon Edvinsson relishing NHL life, as Red Wings decide what’s best for top prospect

Detroit News

Detroit — Defenseman Simon Edvinsson was back in the Red Wings’ locker room Thursday, taking part in the morning skate, learning under the coaching staff, and of course partaking of the food spread in the kitchen a few steps from the locker room.

And if Edvinsson is still around for the weekend, the road hotel in Philadelphia.

“The travel is a little better,” Edvinsson said with a large smile, talking about the biggest difference from the NHL and American League, along with the, yes, food.

How long Edvinsson, the Wings’ top prospect, continues to enjoy the NHL life remains to be seen.

After Thursday’s morning skate, coach Derek Lalonde said Edvinsson and defenseman Gustav Lindstrom are both dealing with minor injuries, and the Wings will see after the pregame skate who is more capable of playing.

On Tuesday in St. Louis, it was Lindstrom who was deemed a bit more ready.

“Neither are probably 100%,” Lalonde said. “We’ll see who can play between them.”

With only 11 games left after Thursday’s game, the Wings still are deciding what the best course of action is with Edvinsson.

If Edvinsson plays more than nine games (he had two going into Thursday) it would burn the first year of his entry-level contract, so it’s unlikely that’ll happen.

Basically, the decision is whether it’s best for Edvinsson to learn the rigors of the NHL and learning how the Wings go about business, or get ample playing time in Grand Rapids, where the Griffins aren’t likely to make the playoffs, either.

“Being able to work our staff here, being with (associate coach) Bob (Boughner) and develop with our coaches and learn what we’re doing,” Lalonde said of how being able to stay in the NHL these final days can help Edvinsson. “We do run different systems than GR, so just maybe more with being in our process and coaches. Both (leagues) are valuable. Playing a ton down there, versus what he plays here and the process, it’s something we’ll evaluate down the stretch.”

Edvinsson, for his sake, was simply glad to still be wearing a Wings jersey.

“Of course,” Edvinsson said. “It’s a great league and this is where you want to be. The better you play, the more you play, and that’s how it works.”

The physicality of the NHL, and the need to make quick decisions on the ice, are two things that have stood out for Edvinsson through two games.

“What I’m supposed to do is get the puck to the forwards and get them the time to do what they do best,” said Edvinsson, noting it’s important to make quick, sound decisions. “The AHL is a hard league too, tough guys there as well. You have to play tough in both leagues, I would say.”

Edvinsson can see now how much the time spent in the AHL has made the tranisition better.

“It’s helped me a lot,” Edvinsson said. “With just how I can take my time and figure everything out, and from that build better confidence with the smaller ice (surface).”

Husso hurting

Goaltender Magnus Hellberg was back in net Thursday as Ville Husso is dealing with a nagging lower-body injury.

The Wings recalled goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic from Grand Rapids in an emergency basis to back up Hellberg.

“Husso is dealing with something that he’s been dealing with of late,” Lalonde said. “Nedo is coming up (from Grand Rapids). Ville is unavailable for us and he’ll be in an evaluation here for a couple of days and going forward with it.”

This was only the second time this season Hellberg has been able to get two consecutive starts, a rare opportunity to gain some traction.

“Maybe (Hellberg can earn) some momentum off that,” Lalonde said. “It’s tough for a backup goalie to get rhythm. It’s a tough task not playing for week to 10 days at times, and always getting the back-to-back assignments like he did the other night.

“It’s an opportunity for him to get in there on back-to-back (nights) and we expect him to play well.”

An experienced goaltender who has been waived twice this season and is playing on his third team, Hellberg, who’ll be 32 on April 4, appears to have the qualities and mental strength to deal with life as an NHL backup goaltender.

“Mental fortitude,” Lalonde said of what an NHL backup needs. “It’s the reality of it. You have to have good practice reps because you may not see game action for a while, and there are expectations when you get in there.

“It’s a tough spot.”

Forward Matt Luff remained in the Wings’ lineup Thursday, replacing Adam Erne (lower-body). Lalonde was confident Erne would be ready for Saturday’s game in Philadelphia.

Twitter: @tkulfan

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