With only 27 NHL games under his belt, 26 year old, Nick Jensen is quickly becoming a fan favorite and is constantly reminding everyone why he deserves to be on this team.
Nick Jensen made his NHL debut on December 20th, 2016 against the Tampa Bay Lightning when he was recalled by the Red Wings from their farm team, the Grand Rapids Griffins.
Jensen began his “professional” career at the age of seventeen when he played two seasons with the Greenbay Gamblers of the USHL. During the summer in between these seasons, Jensen was drafted 150th overall to Detroit in the 2009 entry draft. During his first season with Greenbay, Jensen recorded 23 points and in the season following, totaled a career high 35 points. Following his time with the Gamblers, Jensen went off to college where he made his mark for the St. Cloud State Huskies. His Freshman year, Jensen tallied 5 goals and 18 assists through 38 games. His sophomore year, Nick was the third highest point scorer for St. Cloud State when he recorded 6 goals and 26 assists in 39 games. The 2012-2013 season, otherwise known as his junior year would be the young defenseman’s last year with the Huskies. In this year, Jensen was named the WCHA’s Defensive Player of the Year and was selected to the NCAA West First All-American Team. This same season he scored 4 goals and was second on the team with 27 assists. On May 2nd, 2013, the Detroit Red Wings signed Jensen to a two year entry level contract and that next season he went on to play for their AHL affiliate, The Grand Rapids Griffins, he also played 3 games with the Toldeo Wallaye of the ECHL before returning to the Griffs. In his second AHL season, Jensen was 2nd among defensemen in scoring for the Griffins and was also tied for first in the AHL with a +/- of +30. In Nick’s final season in Grand Rapids, he scored 3 goals and had 16 assists on the 75 game season. On December 19th, 2016, Nick Jensen was recalled by the Detroit Red Wings.
December 20th, 2016 was a big day for the 6 foot defensemen, this was the day he would make his NHL debut with the Wings when they faced off against Tampa Bay in Tampa. Coach Jeff Blashill has always been confident in Jensen’s ability and told reporters back in 2014 when he was the head coach in GR, to “not overlook him” regardless of him being a high draft pick. Jensen has not let Wings fans down in the 34 games he has played in the big leagues. He has totaled three goals and 6 assists and is currently matched on the second defensive pairing with Nicklas Kronwall. Teammates constantly comment on his speed while coaches pride him on breaking the puck out well and defending with his feet, he is also known to be ultra competitive. He had a small window of time to make an impact on the team and did just that earning him a contract extension with the Wings signed in Feburary.
So what can we expect from Jensen throughout the rest of the season and the seasons to come? I strongly believe that the 26 year old is only going to get better with time and is a huge asset to this team, mocked by his 2 year contract extension. As Jensen plays in more games in the big leagues, his confidence will grow and he will be more accustomed to playing in the NHL. He is already starting to notice differences in the NHL as compared to the AHL and is acting upon them and we can only hope to expect that throughout the rest of his rookie season. One thing he can work on in his time with the Wings is his ability make plays under pressure, something he didn’t have to do in the AHL to dominate as told by his former coach, Todd Nelson.
Overall, his consistency, hard defending and speed are three things that this and the future Red Wings team needs and I think we can only expect good things from Nick Jensen in the years to come.