It’s a tired subject – the Detroit Red Wings missed out on the playoffs yet again. We’ve already talked about players that have been traded this season, but what about those ghosts of previous Red Wings seasons who were once beloved in Hockeytown but have since moved on to greener pastures?
There are still a fair number of players out there representing the Winged Wheel, and if nothing else, maybe this will help you pick your playoff pony — if you haven’t already, of course.
Before we dive in, there are a few honorable mentions here. Former Red Wings Jacob de La Rose (St. Louis Blues), Xavier Ouellet (Montreal Canadiens), and Tomas Jurco (Vegas Golden Knights) all appeared with their respective teams during the regular season, but have not, to this point, logged any playoff minutes.
Petr Mrazek – Carolina Hurricanes
Stats with Carolina this season: 6-2-3, .923 SV%, 2.06 GAA in 12 games
Stats with Red Wings: 72-58-20, .912 SV%, 2.60 GAA in 166 games (2012-2018)
Current Playoff Stats: N/A, yet to play
Petr Mrazek could have easily fallen into the honorable mention category, considering both his oft-injured status this season, as well as the stellar play of 25-year-old Alex Nedeljkovic, who prior to Sunday’s game against the Nashville Predators has gone 2-1 with a .936 save percentage, 1.96 goals allowed average, and one shutout. At this point, it may very well be Nedeljkovic’s job to lose, but given Mrazek’s solid career numbers, there’s still a fair chance you’ll get to see him play if the youngster stumbles a bit.
Mrazek had one of the more memorable saves in recent Red Wings memory, so if he does suit up for the Carolina Hurricanes this season, they’ll certainly be in good hands.
Next Game: TBD
Nick Jensen – Washington Capitals
Stats with Washington this season: 2 goals, 12 assists in 53 games
Stats with Red Wings: 6 goals, 37 assists in 190 games (2016-2019)
Current Playoff Stats: 4 games, 0 points, plus-1
Nick Jensen was a serviceable defenseman with the Red Wings, though it’s funny that he didn’t even know Detroit had drafted him until well after it actually occurred. He was traded to the Washington Capitals in 2019 for Madison Bowey and a second-round pick in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft (ultimately used to select LW Cross Hanas), and has enjoyed a solid career to this point in the nation’s capital.
The 30-year-old Jensen was third on this season’s team with 65 blocked shots and fifth with a defensive point share of 2.0, though he leaves a bit to be desired when it comes to protecting the puck, as he was second on the team (behind only Zdeno Chara) with 29 turnovers.
He’s been quiet in the postseason to this point, but as the Capitals’ playoff hopes hang in the balance, expect him to step up in a win-or-go-home scenario.
Next Game: 5/23, 7 P.M. ET (Capitals trail the Boston Bruins 3-1)
Tomas Tatar – Montreal Canadiens
Stats with Montreal this season: 10 goals, 20 assists in 50 games
Stats with Red Wings: 115 goals, 107 assists in 407 games (2010-2018)
Current Playoff Stats: 2 games, 0 points
Tomas Tatar was one of the most electric players the Red Wings had, and at one point fans were hopeful he and former teammate Gustav Nyquist would be the next one-two punch Detroit needed to hang in the playoff race. Unfortunately, as the team crumbled around them, the two became irresistible trade bait, and both were ultimately dealt away. Tatar was traded to Vegas in 2018, with Nyquist being dealt to the San Jose Sharks a year later, truly reshaping what the Red Wings’ rebuild was going to look like.
Nyquist — now with the Columbus Blue Jackets — missed this season due to shoulder surgery in November, but Tatar has held his own, putting up 149 points in 198 career games with the Canadiens. The North Division playoffs kicked off a bit later than the others, so there’s a smaller sample size, but if history is any indication, Tatar needs to find another gear in Montreal’s series against the Toronto Maple Leafs. In 36 career playoff games, he has 11 points on six goals and five assists.
Pay attention, because you never know when you may see a familiar face back in Detroit.
Next Game: 5/24, 7 P.M. ET (Canadiens tied with Maple Leafs 1-1)
Tomas Nosek – Vegas Golden Knights
Stats with Vegas this season: 8 goals, 10 assists in 38 games
Stats with Red Wings: 1 goal, 0 assists in 17 games (2015-2017)
Current Playoff Stats: 2 games, 0 points
Ah, the one that got away. Tomas Nosek, who was a seemingly innocuous expansion draft pick by the Golden Knights in 2017, has panned out extremely well in the desert. He never had a chance to crack the lineup as a regular with the Red Wings, and left unprotected, he was snatched up by Vegas after performing extremely well with the AHL Grand Rapids Griffins.
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What has he done since? 65 points in 240 games, highlighted by this season’s 18-point effort in just 38 games played. His numbers have steadily improved each season, and the 28-year-old has made his presence known in the playoffs as well. The Golden Knights’ inaugural season – one that took them all the way to the Stanley Cup Final, was helped along by Nosek, who chipped in six points in 17 playoff games.
Nosek has unfortunately been out since leaving Game 2 against the Wild, and is listed as day-to-day. Whenever he makes his return, you can bet Vegas will be counting on one of its leading role players to step up and make a difference.
Next Game: 5/24, 10:30 P.M. ET (Golden Knights Lead Wild 3-1)
If you haven’t tuned in or picked your playoff horse just yet, now’s your chance, and there are a number of ways to go with it. Whether you’re clinging to the nostalgia of Red Wings teams past, or looking toward the future while enjoying this year’s playoff action, it’s clear to see there are still plenty of Hockeytown’s favorites making an impact in the postseason.
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A die-hard hockey fan in the desert, and proud Iowa State alum. Detroit Red Wings and Arizona Coyotes contributor for The Hockey Writers.