DETROIT – The Detroit Red Wings today assigned defenseman Xavier Ouellet to the American Hockey League’s Grand Rapids Griffins.
Ouellet, 22, has played in 25 career regular-season games with the Red Wings from 2013-15, notching three points (2-1-3), two penalty minutes and a plus-four rating. He also made his NHL postseason debut during Detroit’s 2014 first-round series against the Boston Bruins, skating in one game. Ouellet has 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. Ouellet also represented Canada at the 2013 IIHF World Junior Championship, picking up three points (1-2-3) in six games.
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With the return of Ouellet to Grand Rapids, it certainly means that Jonathan Ericsson will at least be healthy enough to be a backup on Saturday in Nashville. Ouellet was up for all of two games to sit as an emergency backup. He was with the Wings for Sunday's win over Calgary (on a night that came after he had just played two consecutive games for the Griffins), and also sat during the Wings' loss against the Devils on Tuesday night.
Seeing as how that was a game characterized by defensive breakdowns at Detroit's blueline, there are a number of fans who believe he should have been in the lineup for that game and will no doubt be a number who believe he should be in the lineup on Saturday night when the Christmas break is over. Ouellet will remain waiver-exempt through the end of this season, but will earn waiver eligibility as next season begins. He remains on a contract with one more year remaining that will expire in the summer of 2017 with him as a restricted free agent.