Earlier today, the news broke from Detroit Red Wings reporter Dana Wakiji that the Wings would call up a forward and a defensemen before the NHL-wide roster freeze goes into effect at 11:59 pm on December 19th.
#RedWings Blashill said they will call up a forward and a defenseman late tonight before roster freeze.— Dana Wakiji (@Dwakiji) December 19, 2015
It was clear that the defenseman to be called up would be Xavier Ouellet. However, Blashill already announced that Kindl would sub-in if Jonathan Ericsson is unable to go, meaning that Ouellet will be a healthy scratch. The forward to be called up was more of a mystery. It was speculated that perhaps Anthony Mantha, he of five goals and 11 points in his last six games might finally get a shot. Or that we might see Andreas Athanasiou back again as he made his return from injury in last night's win over the Texas Stars. However, today it was announced that the Wings will call up forward Tomas Nosek along with defenseman Xavier Ouellet.
After taking a minute to reflect on this news, I think it tells us a little bit about the injury situation surrounding Henrik Zetterberg. Yesterday, we saw Zetterberg take a nasty spill into the post, and today it was announced that he was questionable for Sunday's game with a lower-body injury. Blashill announced earlier in the week that he prefers to call players up based on situational need and that he would not call up a player like Athanasiou or Mantha unless he had top-6 minutes available. I think the call-up of Nosek, a defensive-minded center with limited offensive upside, seems to indicate that Zetterberg is likely good to go for Sunday's game and that Nosek will either be a healthy scratch or draw into the lineup in favor of Joakim Andersson.
I know a lot of the fan base wants to see Mantha or Athanasiou, but if Zetterberg is healthy, I would much rather see Nosek called up to be the healthy scratch/4th line substitute than Mantha or Athanasiou. Both players are tearing it up right now in the AHL and I think they are both continuing to build confidence during the Griffins 14-game winning streak. We'll find out for sure tomorrow as to what will happen to Ouellet and Nosek, but if I were a betting man, both are up here to be healthy scratches for Sunday's game.
Update: The press release from the Red Wings is below, making the recalls official
DETROIT - The Detroit Red Wings today recalled center Tomas Nosek and defenseman Xavier Ouellet from the American Hockey League's Grand Rapids Griffins.
Nosek, 23, has skated in 25 games with the Griffins this season, recording two goals and five assists along with 33 shots on goal and 14 penalty minutes. The second-year Griffin played in 55 games during his first full season in North America during the 2014-15 campaign, tying with teammate Nick Jensen for the league lead with a plus-30 rating despite being limited to 55 games due to injury. He also tallied 34 points (11-23-34), ranking eighth on the club, while adding seven points (2-5-7) in 12 games during the Griffins' postseason run to the Western Conference Finals.
A native of Pardubice, Czech Republic, Nosek has not yet seen NHL action after signing with the Red Wings as an undrafted free agent on June 14, 2014. Prior to the 2014-15 season, Nosek logged 129 professional games in the Czech Extraliga for HC Pardubice, totaling 62 points (24-38-62) and 58 penalty minutes. He posted a career-best 44 points (19-25-44) in 52 games for the club in 2013-14, leading the team in scoring before signing with Detroit in the offseason at the age of 21. The 6-foot-2, 210-lb., center also spent parts of three seasons with HC Chrudim and HC Hradec Kralove of the Czech Republic's second-highest professional league, picking up 16 points (7-9-16) between the teams from 2010-13. He also racked up 125 points (53-72-125) in 109 games for HC Pardubice at the under-20 level. Nosek captained his country at the 2012 IIHF World Junior Championship, picking up one assist in six games.
Ouellet, 22, has also appeared in all 25 of Grand Rapids' games this season and ranks second among the team's blueliners with 12 points (2-10-12), while owning the third-best plus-minus rating on the team at plus-nine and leading all Griffins with 67 shots on goal. A third-year pro, Ouellet has made 147 appearances for the Griffins since 2013-14, picking up 45 points (7-38-45), a plus-12 rating and 54 penalty minutes and represented the team at the 2015 AHL All-Star Classic.
Originally a second-round pick (48th overall) of Detroit in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, Ouellet is a native of Bayonne, France, who represents Canada internationally and notched three points (1-2-3) in six games at the 2013 IIHF World Junior Championship. Prior to his professional career, he skated in 223 major junior games with the QMJHL's Montreal Juniors and Blainville-Boisbriand Armada from 2009-13 and was a QMJHL First-Team All-Star in 2012 and 2013. He recorded 160 points (41-119-160), 177 penalty minutes and a plus-61 rating over his four seasons with the franchise, serving as captain in his final two seasons with the team.