Which Red Wings forward comes out once Patrick Kane enters the fray?

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports /

Head coach Derek Lalonde and his coaching staff will have a decision to make over the next day or two regarding which Red Wings’ forward will come out of the lineup in favor of star forward Patrick Kane.

Kane, 35, is expected to enter Detroit’s lineup on Thursday at home against the San Jose Sharks; if by chance he’s not quite ready by then, he’ll most certainly begin his Red Wings career on Saturday against the Ottawa Senators.

There had been murmurs Kane would play on Tuesday in his hometown of Buffalo, but he mentioned on Monday that he’s not quite up to game speed yet, primarily because the Detroit Red Wings haven’t had much time to practice over the past week. Don’t confuse an actual practice with a morning skate; they’re completely different. As Steve Yzerman recently mentioned, real practices don’t occur with how the NHL schedules are constructed compared to how they had been created back in the day.

Which Red Wings’ forward will come out of the lineup once Patrick Kane is ready to play?

Injuries always occur, but (knock on wood) the Detroit Red Wings are fairly healthy at the moment. That means barring an issue Tuesday night, it’s likely one of Christian Fischer or Klim Kostin coming out of the lineup on Thursday.

My guess is Kostin, which will not excite many fans due to his willingness to be physical and a bodyguard of sorts so far this season. Kostin recently imposed his will in back-to-back games for the Red Wings when he took exception to a hit from Will Cuylle on defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere. The impact from Cuylle was square in the numbers on Gostisbehere, prompting Kostin to immediately vacate the puck on the boards and go right at Cuylle. Gostisbehere was unable to return to that contest in New York. Still, it was nice to have a player like Kostin willing to step up and protect his teammates, something the Detroit Red Wings have missed in recent years and one area Yzerman mentioned he wanted to address this past off-season.

Yzerman mentioned that he wanted to sign a few players who are tough to play against but not necessarily fighters, knowing the game has shifted away from heavyweight champion-like fighters who cannot offer anything else on the ice. A player like Kostin, who is willing to hold the opponent accountable if they make a bone-headed decision like Cuylle but can also help the team in other areas, is a bonus. Kostin came to Andrew Copp’s defense the following day after Chicago defenseman Connor Murphy leveled him. This time, it was a clean hit, but a big hit, and in today’s NHL, unfortunately, players are expected to answer for big hits. Despite the reason for the altercation, Detroit Red Wings fans will always appreciate a player willing to mix it up on a regular basis.

Kostin, 24, has totaled one goal and two points over 19 games this season. He’s a plus-2 and averages just under nine minutes of ice time per night. The gritty winger owns a Corsi For Percentage of 49.6, which is pretty impressive for a fourth-line player.

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As mentioned earlier, the other option is Christian Fischer, but he’s a regular contributor on the penalty kill. Fischer has totaled two goals and six points over 22 games this season, averaging 11 minutes of work per night. His Corsi For Percentage has settled in at 45.6. Another benefit of keeping Fischer in the lineup is that he can play center, so he adds some lineup flexibility as well. I expect some type of rotation between these two for the remainder of the season.