The 2013-2014 season saw East Grand Rapids’ Luke Glendening jump both Joakim Andersson and Cory Emmerton in the line-up, solidifying his position as the Detroit Red Wings fourth line center. However, with Darren Helm healthy again, for now, and Riley Sheahan’s spectacular emergence, where does Glendening fit into the Wings lineup?
In a season that saw any and every prospect that could potentially be NHL ready called up due to injury, Glendening solidified himself as a regular Red Wing a third of the way through the season. Through his skating ability and tenacity on the forcheck, he gained praise from his teammates and coach. But with only 1 goal and 6 assists in 56 games played, as well as a +/- of -8 good enough for fifth worst on the team, it is safe to say that Glendening struggled to produce offensively.
While Glendening’s speed and forchecking abilities made him more valuable than Cory Emmerton, and more entertaining to watch than the slower Joakim Andersson, his job as fourth line center is far from secure. Darren Helm’s unexpected return to the ice, seriously it got to the point where I assumed he was forever broken, and Riley Sheahan’s steady production centering the “kid” line force the question of where exactly does Glendening play in the lineup?
Assuming all forwards are healthy, the Red Wings top four centers should line up as Pavel Datsyuk, Stephen Weiss, Riley Sheahan, Darren Helm. Both Weiss and Helm are notorious lately for failing to stay on the ice, however, continuing with the assumption everyone is healthy, Glendening looks to be sitting in the press box. That is however unless he starts playing on the wing.
If moved to the wing, much like Justin Abdelkader’s move from center to wing a couple years ago, Glendening would compete against lesser competition to earn a spot as a defensive forchecker. Instead of competing with Datsyuk, Helm, Weiss, and Sheahan for playing time, Glendening would competing against the likes of Drew Miller, Dan Cleary, Joakim Andersson, and Justin Abdelkader for bottom six minutes. If the team does not resign Daniel Alfredsson, then a move to wing makes even more sense for Glendening as a spot in the top six opens up for a player like Justin Abdelkader.
As a defensive forward who provides little offense, barring any sudden offensive point streaks, it is likely that Glendening spends his fair share of time as healthy scratch. However, as a player that seems to have won the trust of the coach, expect any opportunity available, due to injury or slumping players, to see Glendening as a go to option for changing the lineup.