Defenseman's in search of ice time and Olympics

Tuesday, December 1, 2009 at 4:42pm
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SULZER

Alexander Sulzer acknowledges he’s in a ‘tough position.’

Even so, the 25-year-old defenseman makes it easy on the Nashville Predators’ coaches because he refuses to complain about a lack of playing time.

“I think it’s hard for them too,” Sulzer said. “The defensemen are playing well, there’s no injuries. Why would you change something that really works right now? I can understand the coaches too.

“Obviously, I really want to play, but I’m in a tough position right now.”

Sulzer will, in fact, get to play Wednesday when the Predators face Minnesota (7 p.m., Xcel Energy Center). The only thing is, at that time he will be in the lineup of the Milwaukee Admirals, who open a stretch of three home games in four nights at the same time.

The move was announced Tuesday afternoon, and he was scheduled to travel to Milwuakee in the evening.

Depending on developments, he either will rejoin Nashville on Friday in Chicago or remain with Milwaukee, at least through the weekend.

“(He) wants to play, so he’s going to down and play in Milwaukee,” coach Barry Trotz said following Tuesday’s workout. “We’re in Chicago and they’re in Milwaukee, so we’re really close. So after (Wednesday) night’s game … we’ll make a decision where we are and he’ll either rejoin us or stay in Milwaukee and play some games.”

Sulzer’s last NHL appearance was Nov. 7 at Los Angeles. He was reassigned to Milwaukee on Nov. 24, played two games for the Admirals and was recalled on Nov. 26

Prior to that move, he was a healthy scratch in seven consecutive games. Since, he has been deactivated in three straight.

“It was really good being back playing again and getting the game speed back,” Sulzer said of his most recent stint with Milwaukee. “It was fun getting 22 or 23 minutes of ice time.”

Despite the fact that he had just two games of NHL experience prior to this season, Sulzer was listed among the NHL players in the team’s media guide.

The signing of veteran Francis Bouillon late in training camp and the emergence of another young defenseman, Cody Franson, relegated Sulzer to seventh on the organizational depth chart at defense.

Consequently, he has played in just five of Nashville’s 26 games and seven of Milwaukee’s 21. He has no goals and one assist for the Predators, and one goal and six assists for the Admirals.

The situation actually has created difficulties for one coach.

The head of Germany’s Olympic team watched the Predators play twice last week but never saw Sulzer, a native of Kufbeuren, Germany, in anything other than street clothes. The two did talk Saturday following the Predators’ victory over Florida.

Germany plans to announce its roster for the 2010 Olympics later this month.

“I think I have a chance to make the team,” he said. “First of all, I have to play some games. It doesn’t matter if it’s in Milwaukee or Nashville.

“He makes the decisions based on guys who play, and I’ve been sitting in the stands.”