The recent rash of injuries that has hit the Detroit Red Wings has had a big impact on their play on the ice, and as they continue to look for ways to fill gaps they have decided to give 2011 draft pick Tomas Jurco his first shot in the NHL. Justin Abdelkader suffered an apparent concussion in Saturday night’s loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins, and joins Darren Helm, Stephen Weiss and Henrik Zetterberg on the injured list. Jurco will get a chance to have an impact right off the bat, and he could play on the top line with Pavel Datsyuk and Daniel Alfredsson when the Red Wings host the Tampa Bay Lightning on Sunday.
The Red Wings drafted Jurco after he scored 31 goals in his second season with the Saint John Sea Dogs of the QMJHL. He scored 30 goals and had a career-high 68 points in the following season in 12 fewer games, and turned pro with the AHL’s Grand Rapids Griffins last season. He got off to a somewhat slow start, but finished the season with 14 goals and 28 points and chipped in another eight goals in the playoffs to help the Griffins capture the Calder Cup for the first time in franchise history. This season, he leads the Griffins with 11 goals and 27 points. He’ll see plenty of familiar faces in Detroit, as Patrick Eaves, Luke Glendening and Petr Mrazek have also been called up from Grand Rapids in the past week. Mrazek will get the start in net against the Lightning, and will be one of six players from the Calder Cup championship team to suit up for the Red Wings. Ironically, on Sunday they will face a handful of Lightning players who were members of the Syracuse Crunch team they defeated in last season’s Calder Cup Finals.
After winning five of six games from Nov. 24 – Dec. 6, the Red Wings are 0-2-2 and have struggled to score. With only five total goals over that span, it’s clear they need some kind of spark and Jurco will get a chance to showcase his talent. If the injuries continue to mount, he likely won’t be the last Griffin to debut this season.