Detroit Red Wings
Clear Bag Policy Follow @DetroitRedWings on Twitter! Follow the Red Wings on Facebook! Follow @DetroitRedWings on Instagram! Follow OfficialDRW on Snapchat! Get Red Wings Email Updates Get Red Wings Text Updates Get the Detroit Red Wings Official Mobile App

  • RSS

Andersson adds offense and leadership

Swedish center covets Griffins' leadership role

Monday, 10.8.2012 / 2:47 PM ET / News
By Bill Roose  - Managing Editor |
Share with your Friends

Andersson adds offense and leadership
In order to view this page you need JavaScript and Flash Player 9+ support!
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The Red Wings expected Swedish center Joakim Andersson to be a solid defensive presence when he arrived in western Michigan three years ago.

Then came the superlative 50-point performance as Andersson added a new offensive dimension to his game during the 2011-12 AHL campaign.

“I think I took a big step last year. I got a bigger role on the team and found some confidence, offensive-wise,” said Andersson, who produced career-highs in goals (21), assists (30) and points (51). “The first year that I played here and the last couple of years in Sweden, I was in a defensive role on a lot of penalty kill and on third and fourth line.

“Last year I got a chance to play on the top line and that’s what I want to keep doing with the two-way game and work hard. That’s how I like to play hockey.”

Andersson’s offensive numbers took off after he was paired with Swedish wingers Gustav Nyquist and Fabian Brunnstrom. Nyquist and Andersson will likely play together again once the season starts with Friday’s home opener against Milwaukee. However, the Griffins need to find a new winger to replace Brunnstrom, who returned to Sweden where he’s playing for Andersson’s former team in Frölunda.

The Swedish line finished on a hot streak, producing 18-points on the Griffins’ 20-goals during a season-long, five-game winning streak in March.

Red Wings officials predict that Andersson, with his big body (6-foot-2, 206-pounds) and really good hockey instincts, will eventually be a third- or fourth-line center at the NHL level. The club’s third-round pick in the 2007, Andersson made his NHL debut last December when fellow Swede Tomas Holmstrom went down with a sore groin.

Andersson was one of four prospects – along with forwards Gustav Nyquist and Riley Sheahan, and defenseman Brendan Smith – who made their NHL debuts with the Red Wings last season. Andersson played five games with the Wing, and though he didn’t score, he did make a good impression on his new Griffins coach.

“Andersson has been a great player down here, (and) ready to maybe take a big step, offensively,” said first-year Griffins coach Jeff Blashill, who was a Wings assistant last season. “He’s somebody who does a lot of little things right, which will help him get to the NHL. But how good is he going to be once he gets there will be determined by what type of year he can have, and can he really start to put up some big numbers, offensively.”

Andersson, 23, hopes to learn a lot from his new coach, who has a history of teaching young players at the college and junior levels.

“I met him last year when I was up playing for the Red Wings … so I got to know him a little bit,” Andersson said. “I’ve had a talk here with him and he seems to be a good coach, and he’s been in college before so he knows what it’s like to work with the young guys.”

Before last season, Andersson’s most accomplished work was, arguably, on the international stage with his national team, winning a pair of silver medals in the World Junior Championship and a bronze in the under-18 juniors in 2007.

“Those were good experiences for sure against all of the best guys on all of the national teams,” Andersson said. “Those were good experiences with some good Swedish guys on those four teams, like Magnus Paajarvi, Patrik Berglund in St. Louis and a couple of more guys. If that helps me here, I don’t know, it probably does.”

Andersson’s leadership skills will certainly continue to help him with his development in Grand Rapids. Picked by teammates to wear an associate captain’s ‘A’ on his jersey midway through last season, Andersson’s coach hopes to see more of the same from the big center.

“Joakim leads by example, and he does everything right in practice,” Blashill said. “He’s the first guy starting the drills and working hard, really reminiscent of what you see in Detroit. He’s not a real vocal, vocal leader, but he has a presence about him and I think everybody respects him.”

It helps that Andersson relishes the leadership role, and covets the team’s captaincy position, which hasn’t been determined yet.

“I would love that. I like responsibility,” he said. “I usually grow with that a lot, and I felt that same way last year when I got that letter on my jersey. I grew as a player and as a person, so I would like that. Some guys don’t like that and some guys don’t care if they do wear a letter or not, but for me it’s a big thing.”

Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @Bill_Roose




1 WSH 53 40 9 4 175 120 84
2 FLA 54 32 16 6 150 122 70
3 NYR 54 31 18 5 153 135 67
4 NYI 53 29 18 6 150 131 64
5 DET 54 28 18 8 136 132 64
6 BOS 54 29 19 6 159 148 64
7 TBL 53 29 20 4 140 127 62
8 PIT 53 27 19 7 138 135 61
9 NJD 55 27 21 7 122 123 61
10 MTL 55 27 24 4 147 145 58
11 PHI 53 24 20 9 127 138 57
12 CAR 54 24 21 9 130 142 57
13 OTT 56 25 25 6 157 173 56
14 CBJ 56 22 28 6 140 173 50
15 BUF 55 21 28 6 125 151 48
16 TOR 53 19 25 9 122 149 47


D. Larkin 53 18 20 26 38
H. Zetterberg 54 10 27 4 37
T. Tatar 53 16 17 0 33
G. Nyquist 54 14 16 0 30
P. Datsyuk 39 8 21 13 29
J. Abdelkader 54 14 13 -3 27
M. Green 46 4 17 -7 21
N. Kronwall 45 3 14 -10 17
B. Richards 40 5 11 7 16
D. DeKeyser 50 7 8 13 15
P. Mrazek 21 10 4 .934 1.94
J. Howard 7 8 4 .904 2.89