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Tootoo faces fight for roster spot

Veteran agitator wants to play bigger role with Red Wings

Monday, 09.9.2013 / 2:45 PM ET / News
By Bill Roose  - DetroitRedWings.com
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Tootoo faces fight for roster spot

Jordin Tootoo produced three goals and five assists in 42 regular-season games in '13. He expects he'll need to fight for a roster spot with the Red Wings this season. (Photo by Bill Roose/Detroit Red Wings)

DETROIT – Training camp is tryout camp for Jordin Tootoo.

The veteran forward, who signed a three-year contract with Detroit prior to the NHL lockout, knows what’s at stake. The Red Wings have 16 forwards signed to pro contracts and only 12 available playing spots.

“Every year is a tryout camp for me. That’s how I take it mentally,” said Tootoo, who had three goals and five assists in 42 regular-season games last season. “I just have to prepare myself the best that I could as there are hundreds of other guys that would love to be in your spot. I’m coming into camp with the mindset for fighting for a spot on the team and that’s the bottom line.”

According to coach Mike Babcock, the only secured roster spots are at center – with Pavel Datsyuk, Stephen Weiss, Darren Helm, Joakim Andersson and Cory Emmerton – and wingers Henrik Zetterberg and Johan Franzen on the first- and second-line, respectively.

However, there are six winger positions up for grabs.

“This is where I want to win a Stanley Cup,” Tootoo said, “and when you have other guys that want your spot you have to make sure that you bring you’re A-Game every day.”

Tootoo is likely to face an uphill fight when the Wings open camp on Thursday. The agitating forward plays with a tremendous amount of passion, however he’s often viewed as one-dimensional, a grind-line contributor, who doesn’t play on special teams. His nine-minutes per game of ice time last season was the lowest among Wings’ players.

It’s expected that Tootoo must compete for a spot against Mikael Samuelsson, Todd Bertuzzi, Drew Miller, Patrick Eaves, Gustav Nyquist and Tomas Tatar.

“For me it’s about having the opportunity to play in the NHL,” Tootoo said. “I’ve got to worry about my game and take it one-day-at-a-time … and just come in every day with the right mindset.”

Recently, Wings general manager Ken Holland alluded to a plan he has to shape the team’s roster without having to trim salary or waive players. It’s possible that Helm will start the season on injured reserve as he continues to recover from a lower back injury that sidelined him last season. Helm is also battling through a sore groin, which he sustained while skating with teammates last week. The Wings also have options with Nyquist, who could begin the season in Grand Rapids.

But Tootoo isn’t concerned with what other teammates may or may not need to do to make the Wings’ opening night roster. He’s focused on what he needs to do.

“Physically and mentally I did everything that I could to make sure that I give myself every opportunity to make this team,” Tootoo said. “The game evolves every year and you’ve got to re-adjust to minor things here and there. I’ve worked on a few things here and there over the summer … and when you’re asked to bring a certain role, you have to work on the little things that make you the best you can be.”

Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @Bill_Roose

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EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
H. Zetterberg 82 13 37 -15 50
P. Datsyuk 66 16 33 7 49
D. Larkin 80 23 22 11 45
T. Tatar 81 21 24 4 45
G. Nyquist 82 17 26 -2 43
J. Abdelkader 82 19 23 -16 42
M. Green 74 7 28 -6 35
B. Richards 68 10 18 4 28
D. Helm 77 13 13 -2 26
N. Kronwall 64 3 23 -21 26
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
P. Mrazek 27 16 6 .921 2.33
J. Howard 14 14 5 .906 2.80