Griffins Ponderings

Training camp is only weeks away, and as it gets closer, I’m starting to think about the Griffins roster. We pretty much know what the Wings are gonna look like, even what the lines will be, but I haven’t spent a lot of time thinking about GR. All of these guys will be at Red Wings training camp, including those on AHL contracts, as the Wings generally invite all Griffins to camp.

Goal

Thomas McCollum

He is very important to Detroit, and highly regarded. This means nothing. He will have to earn his spot as a starter if he wants it. He started last season at full force and was very impressive, but struggled through the grind of an AHL season. He was even sent to Toledo for a confidence booster (proven to work with other players in the past, but less effective for Thomas). He never fully regained his early season form, but he did improve toward the end. He will need to have an impressive camp to assure the number one spot and to get his career back on track.

Jordan Pearce

I love Pearce. I really do. He’s got a great attitude. Last fall at training camp, when we asked for his autograph, he was genuinely surprised and flattered. Of course, in a purely hockey sense, that doesn’t mean squat. Odds are he will not make GR. With Thomas and JoeyMac also at camp, it would take a disaster or an injury. But if either get called up, Jordon will get a chance to play for GR, as they like to have a goalie balance due to the many back to backs.

Joey MacDonald

I can tell you this with full confidence: when Joey makes his first start, the cheers will be deafening in the Van. He was a fan favorite when he played here and set every goaltending record in GR, and we’ve longed for him ever since. No goalie is JoeyMac. Even with Jimmy Howard, we longed for Joey. He’ll likely split starting duties with Thomas McCollum. I would guess he’d be the #1 call-up if Ozzie or Jimmah gets injured, depending on McCollum’s play.

Defense

Brendan Smith

There is talk of him jumping straight to the NHL, but I don’t see it. Probably partially because I don’t want to. We are so excited to finally be able to see him in GR. We’ve been waiting for a defenseman to be what Ericsson was. All that I know about him everybody else knows, so I don’t have much more to say. We’re just so excited to see him.

Logan Pyett

Although he’s on an NHL contract, Pyett is a career AHLer at best. He’s a great guy, and a pretty decent d-man. He has a tendency to give up the puck right in front of our net when pressured, and this seems to get worse as the season goes on. However, he is still a backbone of the GR defense. He has a good first pass (when he doesn’t cough it up) and makes appearances on the pp. He’ll likely be a fixture.

Travis Ehrhardt

Hopefully he’s worked hard this offseason, because he needed it. He was another newbie who struggled with the grind. He spent a lot of time in Toledo, and when he was in GR he was usually scratched. I think he could be a good d-man if he can catch up to the game. I do think he should change his name, because it’s a pain in the butt to type. He’ll likely be on the edge of GR’s lineup again.

Sebastien Piche

He had a great camp last year (I thought) but did not follow that up with a good season. In fact, I don’t remember seeing him much. I don’t see him AHL ready, but who knows.

Sergei Kolosov

One of the best d-men last season, Kolosov will be back and probably on the top pairing. He’s a solid defensive d-man, which an intimidating size when he chooses to use it (which is less often then I’d prefer). He could make the NHL in the semi-near future, but not as a Wing.

Brian Lashoff

Another up and coming d-man I’m fond of. I’ve seen very little of him, a whopping 6 games, but I’ve liked what I’ve seen. He should spend this season in GR.

Doug Janik

Pretty much unliked by Red Wings fans everywhere, he actually makes a pretty good AHL d-man. He does this really annoying thing where he comes out from behind our net with the puck, centimeters from the corner of the net, giving the crowd and his goaltender a heartattack almost every shift. But he will still likely anchor the top pairing.

Center

Chris Minard

I honestly have no idea who this guy is. He’s played 40 NHL games, 35 of which were with Pittsburgh. This makes me sad. But hey, Darryl Bootland was drafted by Colorado, so I won’t write him off. He had 38 points in 40 games with Springfield last year, so he should be good for offense.

Jamie Johnson

He played with Rochester last year and had 71 points in 80 games. He also had 6 points in 7 playoff games. Hopefully he will also inject some offense into GR. Again, I can only give numbers on him.

Cory Emmerton

Cory struggled a little last season, with only 12 goals in 76 games. He was supposed to be a major player last year, so that number was disappointing. Hopefully he can have a better season and not become the next Evan McGrath.

Brent Raedeke

He’s only played 2 games in GR, so again, I can’t say much about him. He’ll likely play at least some of the season in GR.

Joakim Andersson

He did a wonderful Axelsson impression last year, fleeing to Sweden before even playing a game for GR. I have about as much interest in him playing with the Griffins as he does. Not much at all.

Wingers

In GR, the wing positions are pretty much interchangeable, so I’ll do them all together.

Ilari Filppula

It’ll be fun to see the name Filppula on a Griffins jersey again, but part of me thinks it will just be a disappointment. He’s the Steffan to Niklas, the Fedor to Sergei. I hope he’s at least as good an imitation as Steffan. Either way, we can just call him Val and pretend.

Jordan Owens

He finished last season with GR, so he’s not new. However, by the last 17 games, I had sorta stopped paying attention. It was too painful, and I was busy punching out the drunk guy who sits behind me on Fridays and spills his beer on us (okay, I never did that, but I thought about it a lot). Anywho, Jordon only had 5 points in those 17 games, but is that really his fault? The team had disintegrated by then.

Willie Coetzee

Another guy I liked in camp last year, if only because it’s a lot of fun to yell his name. Any name with three e’s and a z is pretty much a win. He didn’t play in GR last year, though he did make a brief appearance at the end of the season. I like what I saw then too. I hope he makes the team. He’s a quick player with good hands.

Jan Mursak

Possibly one of the most underrated Griffins last year. He played solidly throughout the season, and was often the best player on the ice for GR. He scored 24 goals and had 48 points. He will be in GR, and probably on the top line.

Francis Pare

Frankie struggled without his other half, Francis Lemieux. He had a great season on an AHL contract in 08-09, which got the attention of the big club. That year, he scored 24 goals and had 48 points. His production fell to 16 goals and 39 points last season in 14 more games. He is still fast and a good puck-handler, but he will need to find another line that works for him.

Tomas Tatar

Tatar, aka Tots, is currently the story of GR. He doesn’t get as much ice time as we feel he should, but he still managed to get 16 goals and 32 points. He’s speedy and surprisingly gritty for his size. He also seemed to get better as the season progressed. If the Wings make it far in the playoffs this year (I should say when) and if the Griffins don’t, he will be a black ace. I could also see him getting some NHL time this year depending on injuries. The best thing about Tots is that he wants to be in GR, and he plays like it every night.

Greg Amadio

He played with GR a few seasons ago, going back and forth between GR and Muskegon. He’s a tough guy, not expected to get a lot of points or ice time. I liked him when he was here because he beat up on the Wolves. Hopefully he’ll do the same this season to the Admirals (Milwaukee) and Bulldogs.

(Let me just take this brief moment to express how idiotic I find it that there are two teams in the AHL with the same name – Norfolk and Milwaukee.)

Others

All of the above are currently on the roster as listed on griffinshockey.com. There are a few other prospects who could be in GR after training camp, or even later in the season.

As we all know, it is possible that Ritola will be back there. I have issues with Ritola. He causes me great amounts of pain. I don’t want to talk about it.

Landon Ferarro could find himself in GR, if he has a good camp and if Detroit allows it. Right now I’m just hoping he can make it through at least one day of camp without getting injured.

Jamie Tardif is not listed as on their roster, but I don’t believe this. He was their captain last season and he is a great leader and character guy. He is signed to a Detroit contract as well, so he will be in GR.

Aaron Downey will be at camp, but I’d be surprised if Detroit gives him a spot in GR at the expense of a prospect that deserves it.

Other guys to consider and watch through camp: Mitchell Callahan and Andrej Nestrasil. Both had a decent prospect tournament last year, and have the potential to crack the lineup, especially if other guys falter.

Bonus

Matt would like me to talk about Kindl a little bit here. I honestly don’t know what he’ll do this season. I dislike him in the same way I dislike Ritola, and have similar feelings as I did with Jimmah. However, I was dead wrong about Jimmah (very glad I was). Kindl has been in GR for what seems like forever. If I think about last season honestly, I can say he had a much better season than the previous two. He was pretty dependable on a horrible team. I’d say he might be NHL ready, but not ready for no supervision. When he plays, he will need to be watched. This is why they brought in Salei.

I would be surprised if Babs ever willingly plays Kindl and Ericsson together. Kindl is not as ripe as he should be after three full seasons in GR, and not nearly as good as Big E when he graduated to the NHL. I’m guessing he’ll have to fight to get into the rotation regularly. When he is in, I’ll still cringe every time he touches the puck, but probably more from habit than from a legitimate concern. I expect him to step up and at least not be a liability, though I’m prepared for the opposite. I’ve seen him do both.