The Red Wings have roster decisions to make by Monday, but there's nothing to debate about Joakim Andersson: He's a great fit as a third-line center.
Andersson plays well without the puck, which is why the coaching staff trusts him to have the puck. He plays well with any wingers, be they young such as Gustav Nyquist or veterans like Todd Bertuzzi and Daniel Cleary.
"Andy's done a real good job for us," coach Mike Babcock said Saturday, the day after Andersson scored to lift the Wings past Toronto, 5-2, at Joe Louis Arena. "He's a good, big player, knows how to play. He's earned everything he's gotten. We don't have as good a finish or as good a run in the playoffs last year without Andy. He's come back quicker and stronger and really, really fit, so good for him."
Andersson, 24, joined the Wings a few weeks into last season, more than capably filling the hole created by what ended up being a season-long injury for Darren Helm. There still is no timetable for when Helm may play.
Andersson took advantage, earning a larger role and now returning as a regular.
"If you can do things without the puck, you buy yourself time to start doing stuff with the puck," Babcock said. "If you can't do anything without the puck, though, we start getting nervous and when we get nervous, you don't get on the ice. So, to me, it's a real comfort thing for sure, with young players."
Given the likelihood he'll have a couple of scoring-capable wingers, Andersson is excited at the prospect of more puck time. "I want to be involved as much as I can offensively," he said. "I want to do as much as I can with myself. It gives you confidence when you get your minutes out there on the ice, so I'm happy with that."
The Wings need to trim three forwards and $2.7million. One possibility is to place Helm and Patrick Eaves on long-term injured reserve, and start Nyquist in the minors.
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