An industrious blueliner who began his playing career with the Green Bay Gamblers and later St. Cloud State in his home state of Minnesota, Nick Jensen didn't make his NHL debut until this past season, when Alexey Marchenko -- who was ultimately waived and picked up by the rival Maple Leafs -- sustained a shoulder injury. The net result for Jensen was an output of 13 points (four goals, nine assists), 12 PIM and a minus-7 rating in 49 games with the Red Wings, and he managed to avoid another stint with AHL Grand Rapids. Wings GM Ken Holland was so impressed by the smooth-skating rearguard that he got him under contract for two more years with a midseason extension. Jensen is far from flashy, and there are hundreds of more potent offensive weapons for the taking, but he should continue to thrive as a well-rounded, bottom-four defenseman with a role in shorthanded situations. He's a perfect example of a player whose real-life value transcends his fantasy contributions.
Jensen is protected from selection by the Golden Knights in the expansion draft, Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press reports. The big bosses in Detroit's front office are quite fond of Jensen, as evidenced by the defenseman staying up in the NHL permanently after his initial call-up and Dec. 20 debut. Red Wings GM Ken Holland had several opportunities to waive him last season, but opted to ax Alexey Marchenko instead (he's now with Toronto). Jensen provided 13 points in 49 games as a 26-year-old rookie and it appears that he's going to be given every opportunity to improve on those numbers with a clean slate this fall.
Jensen set up two goals -- including a shorthanded assist -- in Monday's 5-4 shootout win over the Senators. The Minnesota native is finishing the season strong with back-to-back two-point outings. Jensen's seemingly been in the good graces of Red Wings brass all season, which says a lot about his perseverance as a 26-year-old rookie. He earned a two-year contract extension in February, so it'll be interesting to see what he can do with a full NHL campaign in 2017-18. This year, he's provided 13 points (four goals, nine assists) along with a minus-6 rating through 46 contests.
Jensen scored a goal and added an assist in Saturday's 5-4 loss to Toronto. It was his first career multi-point game. Jensen hadn't put up points in his previous 11 games. He's a depth defender whose skating ability earns him ice time. Jensen's offensive upside is limited.
Jensen signed a two-year extension worth $1.625 million on Monday. Since being recalled in December, Jensen has been a staple of Detroit's lineup, skating in 27 of a possible 28 games. Jensen hasn't produced much offensively with three goals and five assists in those contests, but is a good skater and can be relied upon in a third-pairing role.
Jensen scored his third goal of the season Sunday in Pittsburgh. Jensen opened the scoring with a beauty, getting Matt Murray to commit on a fake shot before sliding it past the goaltender in close. He also played 19:59 after seeing fewer than 18 minutes in each of the previous four games, but that increase in role was likely due to Mike Green's (illness) absence.
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