CALGARY, Alberta — The newest member of the Blues, forward Jacob de la Rose, skated onto the ice shortly before 2:30 p.m. Central time at Scotiabank Saddledome for his first practice.
He promptly found himself on the team’s third line, skating with Tyler Bozak at center and Sammy Blais on wing.
So not only has he gone from worst to nearly first in the current NHL standings following Wednesday’s trade with Detroit, he’s moved up one line. (He was a fourth-liner with the Red Wings.)
“I’m just excited to be here and I’m gonna do my best to bring my game and see what I can bring to this team,” said de la Rose, who was a teammate with countryman Oskar Sundqvist on Sweden’s national junior team a few years back.
Detroit, which plays Boston tonight, is 4-12-1 for nine points, the worst record among the 31 NHL teams. The Blues, who play Calgary on Saturday, are 11-3-3 for 25 points, second in the NHL only to Washington (27 points) entering Friday's games.
Unlike Robby Fabbri, who went to Detroit in the trade, de la Rose didn’t ask to be traded.
“I didn’t really see it coming,” de la Rose said. “Coach called me like a half-hour before we were leaving for the game and told me I wasn’t playing. He didn’t really say why, so I figured something was up.”
De la Rose had played in the 16 previous Red Wings games.
“And then eventually after the game I got the call that I was traded here,” he said.
After the Red Wings’ 5-1 loss Wednesday at the New York Rangers, de la Rose flew back on the Detroit charter with his now-former teammates, grabbed some things in Detroit and joined his new team Thursday night in Calgary.
The initial review from coach Craig Berube after Friday’s practice?
“Good. Just like we thought,” Berube said. “He moves well out there. He’s big. And his hands look decent.
“He’s gotta get games and get up to speed on how we play and do things. It’s not gonna happen overnight but hopefully he can get in there and give us a jolt right away. And he’ll be fine.”
Berube said de la Rose was placed on the third line for a couple of reasons.
“Bozak’s really good with people and making people feel comfortable as a player,” Berube said. “And (Bozak) does so many good things that he’s easy to play with. So that’s part of it.
“And the other part of it, I didn’t want to mess with that fourth line right now. They’re going good.”
Meanwhile in Detroit, Fabbri was slated for the Red Wings’ second line and first power-play unit, pretty valuable real estate.
“I talked to Ken Hitchcock and Craig Berube (Thursday),” Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill told Detroit reporters. “There’s a belief there’s more in him. . . .We have opportunity here, a clean slate, and now he’s got to grab it.
“We need more scoring. He can potentially provide that, so I look forward to watching him play.”
Fabbri, who is wearing jersey No. 14, obviously is looking forward to more playing time _ a commodity he found hard to come by in St. Louis.
“Everyone here has been welcoming,” Fabbri said Friday. “It’s a great facility here and I’m excited to be here. I’m just gonna come in and do what I know I can do. Do what I can to help this team and help contribute right away.”
Fabbri told reporters in Detroit that he was past any knee issues: “Those are a couple years ago now and I feel great out there. It’s not even in my mind when I’m playing and I feel good.”
Asked to describe his style of play, he said: “I play fast and with some skill. High compete level day in and day out. And just try and bring what I’ve learned over the years over here.”
His initial reaction to his new teammates: “There’s definitely a lot of speed on this team and skill as well. They’re a good group of young guys here that are all hungry and want to win and play hard, so I’ll fit in good with that.”
He played with Red Wings forward Tyler Bertuzzi in junior hockey, and got to know Dylan Larkin and Brendon Perlini through the draft process. Like Fabbri, Larkin and Perlini were first-round NHL draft picks in 2014.
“It’s like a fresh slate,” Fabbri said. “I did that as a 19-year-old coming in over there (to St. Louis). And I’m gonna have that same mindset coming in over here. I want to make a big impact.”
(On the third line Blais and de la Rose, both lefthanded, are still working out who will play left wing and who will play right.)
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