In his post Winter Classic press conference, Mike Babcock said the Wings were basically running a tryout with the Griffins players, because the Wings have had so many injuries. Apparently the tryouts continue, because Alexey Marchenko was called up from Grand Rapids today because Danny DeKeyser is day-to-day with a lower body injury that's believed to be groinular in nature. Without knowing the exact nature and extent of his injury, he could miss a game or two, or he could miss a couple weeks.
In case you're not very familiar with Marchenko yet, here's a quick introduction.
Marchenko played 4 seasons in the KHL before coming to North America and joining the Griffins this season. Marchenko was passed over in the 2010 draft, and the Wings took him in the 7th round of the 2011 draft. Part of the reason Marchenko fell so low, was because of heath issues. Late in the 2009-2010 season, he had to have his spleen removed, and there was talk among some scouts that Marchenko may be forced to quit playing hockey. This was another great pick up by the Wings, if you ask me.
Marchenko is a smooth skating, right handed, puck moving defenseman who can make great passes (especially that first great pass the Wings miss so much). He playes very smart, and uses his long reach and stick very effectively. I've seen him break up a 3-1 using his body positioning and his stick. He's not flashy but he's quietly effective, efficient, and often makes difficult defensive plays look easy. He's not known for playing a physical game, but he's not timid either. From what I've seen of him in Grand Rapids, the physicality of the game doesn't hinder him in any way. He was never projected to be an offensive defenseman, yet in Grand Rapids so far this season, he has 16 points (2G 14A) in 33 games and is 9th on the team in points and 25th among defensemen in AHL scoring.
He had a rough time in the Prospects Tournament this summer, and it was obvious it was his first time playing in North America. His timing and angles were off and I could see his frustration, because his brain was telling him to do all the right things, but his execution was just off. He started out slow in Grand Rapids and in his first few games it was very apparent he had a lot of adjusting to do. When I saw him in Grand Rapids a few weeks ago, it was clear he's made the necessary adjustment because he was the best defenseman on the ice. That's very high praise, especially considering who the Griffins have on defense.
Marchenko played with Pavel Datsyuk on CSKA Moscow during the lockout.
Marchenko changed the spelling of his first name when he came to North America. It was previously spelled "Alexei" but is now "Alexey". I personally don't like it when players change the spelling of their names when they come over here. Their name is a key part of their identity, keep it the way it is in their native country, why change it over here? See also: Adam Almquist (Almqvist)