Sometimes athletes just need to be ready when an opportunity presents itself. That was definitely the case for Brian Lashoff in 2013, as it almost certainly wasn’t in the plan for the 22-year old defenseman to play nearly three-quarters of the season in Detroit. Yet the thing about plans is that they’re always subject to change, and injuries plus other circumstances meant that Lashoff ended up playing as many regular season games as Ian White and Carlo Colaiacovo combined.
Looking Back at Brian Lashoff’s 2013-14:
It didn’t take long for Lashoff to get summoned from Grand Rapids to Detroit – just one game, in fact. The Wings threw him into the fire immediately, having him suit up for his NHL debut against the Columbus Blue Jackets on January 21. Lashoff made it a memorable one by scoring his first goal, which also turned out to be his only tally of the 2012 season.
Because of injuries to several members of the blue line corps, Lashoff remained a regular all the way through the end of March. His play could probably most properly be described as adequate. Lashoff stayed away from the penalty box (just 15 PIM in 31 games), made occasional forays into shooting position on the offensive end, and blocked shots when necessary. But he also played at a -10, and his inexperience showed at times in his decisions with the puck.
After the Red Wings lost to the Phoenix Coyotes on April 4, Lashoff was sent to the press box for what turned into a month-long stay. He returned in the Anaheim series after the team lost Danny DeKeyser, but his struggles with the pace of postseason hockey forced Mike Babcock to turn to Colaiacovo for the rest of the playoffs.
Despite that turn of events, Lashoff’s story had a happy ending. Returned to the Griffins in May, he helped the team to a Calder Cup championship, playing in 18 AHL playoff games.
Looking Ahead to 2013-14:
Quick, besides Niklas Kronwall, which other Detroit defenseman is currently signed beyond next season? Okay that wasn’t much of a trick question since this is a piece about Lashoff, but it says something that he is under contract through 2015-16. There’s some belief that he’ll have a role to play over the next few seasons.
That doesn’t mean he’ll automatically be logging 20 minutes of ice time a night as soon as the puck drops. If the Wings bring back restricted free agents Jakub Kindl and Brendan Smith as expected and no d-men are traded, it would leave eight guys battling for six spots. And there are higher ceiling prospects like Xavier Ouellet and Ryan Sproul on their way, so Lashoff will need to make the most of any chance he gets.
Of course he’s already familiar with that mindset. Lashoff has the size that is always in demand at the NHL level, and now he’s had more than a taste of the game at the highest level. Look for him to play often if not every night, hopefully showing more development so the team knows if he’s a part of the team’s long term future like he is for the short term.