DETROIT – Johan Franzen appears ready to rejoin the Red Wings’ lineup as soon as today.
The veteran forward as missed the last 16 games with a concussion following a hit that he absorbed against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Dec. 15.
“He played really well before he got injured. Hopefully it doesn’t take him too long to get back to that same form he was at,” defenseman Jonathan Ericsson said of Franzen’s likely return. “We really need him at his best game. He’s a big part of us for sure.”
“(It) was a good practice,” Franzen said. “Usually when you’re an extra guy out there you’re standing on the side watching when guys are going in their units. You definitely get a better skate going with your group than standing on the side watching the other guys go.”
Franzen has been skating regularly either with the team or by himself after practice. But in the past few weeks, staking and some off-ice activities have caused some dizziness and headaches.
“Three days now that I haven’t had any issues,” he said.
At first glance, the hit by Lightning defenseman Radko Gudas looked appear to be that serious, though Franzen does have a history of concussions.
“I thought I was going to be out five days because it wasn’t much of a hit and that’s usually how long it takes before you get rid of the headache,” said Franzen, who has 22 points in 30 games. “It just wouldn’t go away. Just cross my fingers now and hopefully it’s going to stay away.”
If the Red Wings medical staff gives the all clear for Franzen to play tonight against the Florida Panthers, the team will need to open a roster spot to make room for his return. In all likelihood, one of three rookies – Tomas Jurco, Riley Sheahan or Luke Glendening – will be sent to Grand Rapids. However, if Mikael Samuelsson clears waivers at noon today, it’s possible that the Wings would assign the veteran forward to the AHL’s Griffins.
DECORATED VET ON WAIVERS: (EDITORS NOTE: Samuelsson cleared waivers and was assigned to Grand Rapids Sunday afternoon) Samuelsson, who produced three goals, including the game-winner in Game 1 of the Red Wings’ Stanley Cup winning series over Pittsburgh in 2008, was placed on waivers Saturday.
Samuelsson, 37, is the fourth Wings’ veteran to go on waivers this season, joining Cory Emmerton, Jordin Tootoo and Patrick Eaves. The previous three all cleared and were assigned to the Wings’ minor-league affiliate in Grand Rapids. However, with the abundance of injuries sustained by the Wings, all three have made their way back to Detroit at some point this season.
Samuelsson has a goal and three points in 26 games, in this his final season of a two-year contract with $6 million. Following a plethora of injuries, he only appeared in four regular-season games last season.
In five-plus seasons with the Red Wings, Samuelsson has 68 goals and 95 assists in 308 games. Originally drafted by San Jose in 1998, Samuelsson has played for seven NHL franchises and is a member of the exclusive Triple Gold Club – having won a Stanley Cup, an Olympic gold medal and World Championship.
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