Griffins Team Ready to Go

The team is set (mostly), which is good because they open the season on Friday at the Van. After seeing most of these guys at the prospect tournament, training camp, and during preseason, here are my thoughts. (disclaimer: some thoughts may be influenced by previous experience in previous years)

In Goal

Thomas McCollum

Unless things go terribly wrong, he will be the “starter” in GR. All this means is that he will play the most games. Maybe by 20, maybe by 2. He has not progressed as fast as many would like, but Kenny Holland says that goalies take longer, and I always listen to Ken. I think he’ll have a better season this year. His confidence seems to be back, as he was once again directing traffic in front of his net during training camp.

Joey MacDonald

Um, I remembered him being better. Spending time on Long Island and then in Toronto did not do good things for his development. He looked…holey during training camp. That being said, he’s Joey MacDonald. As a Griffins fan, I know that he is the awesome. He holds every goaltending record in GR. I have complete faith in him.

Jordan Pearce

Will likely end up in Toledo this season. Given his objectives, this could be his last season.

On Defense

Logan Pyett

Shocked. I was shocked. He played WELL!! I didn’t notice a ton of extreme turnovers on his part in preseason (though he had his fair share in the Red and White game). I’m not worried. I’m sure Pyett will be back in form by midseason. But until then, he could prove to be reliable on defense. He will likely be down on the second pairing this year, with Smith likely to take a spot next to Janik on the top pairing.

Travis Ehrhardt

I don’t know what he was doing during the off-season, but it seems to have worked. He looked more than ready for GR. He still could find himself scratched often, depending on the play of the other 7 defenseman, as well as whether or not Meech reports.

Brendan Smith

He had a very slow start in the prospect tourney, but he got better and better as time went on. By the end of preseason, he and Janik were playing really well together. I predict they will be paired in GR, probably as the top pairing. The Red Wings brass had high hopes for him, as do the fans. Hopefully he won’t be slowed down by the grind of AHL hockey.

Sebastien Piche

I love this kid. Why? Because his name is Sebastien Piche. That’s pretty much it. He might split time with Ehrhardt, or may get sent to Toledo for Meech.

Greg Amadio

On the team for toughness. He was here a few years ago, and I enjoyed him then. He beat up on some Wolves and forever endeared himself to me. I hate the Wolves. I don’t care that they are not in the same division as us anymore and we only play them four times, I still hate them. I don’t care that Hamilton, Milwaukee, and Syracuse injured far more players than Chicago in the past two seasons, I still hate them the most. I still hold it against them that they injured Quincey on an incredibly dirty hit behind our net. I could go on and on, but I guess that’s not really the point.

Sergei Kolosov

To me, he looked like a guy who knew he may have missed his chance with the Wings. He didn’t hit, he didn’t make the smooth passing plays that he did in GR last year, and he just plain didn’t awe. He’s solid, and he’ll be good in GR. But motivation could be a problem if he continues to be outplayed by guys like Smith and Lashoff.

Brian Lashoff

Speaking of…I’ve liked him since the first time I saw him. He played 6 games in GR last season, and 6 the season before. Last year I was excited all year for him to get to GR once his junior team was done. I’m excited to see what he can do with a full year in GR.

Doug Janik

Veteran. Dependable. Likes to take the puck dangerously close to his own goal. But he’s a good d-man. With all the young guys on defense this year, I’m glad there’s a veteran.

Forwards

Cory Emmerton

Wow, was he ever impressive in camp and preseason. He certainly made an impression with Babs. If he continues to improve, he could easily be a call-up this year. And just based on what we’ve already seen, he will be a black ace during the Wings Cup run this year (depending on the Griffins…).

Francis Pare

He still seems to be lacking something since Francis Lemieux left. But he’s still got his speed and agility. Fewer turnovers would be good for everyone. And I will be calling him Frankie for the whole season.

Jamie Johnson

Um…who? I didn’t ever notice him. I think there was one time in training camp where he did something good…He may get sent to Toledo to make room for Maltby.

Kyle Rogers

I have no idea who this is. Seriously, no idea. I saw a picture of some curly haired guy and couldn’t place him, but just attributed it to my bad memory. Then I looked at the roster, saw this name, and was completely stumped. Then I looked at his profile, and he’s the curly haired dude. Literally, that is all I know.

Brent Raedeke

For those of you wondering, it is pronounced RAY-Dick-ee. That information is from his dad. I think he probably knows. Brent has looked great so far. He was another bubble player last year, and has clearly developed and will step into a steady position on the team.

Jan Mursak

I loved him last year, Matt loved him last year, and now everyone can love him. Babs certainly does. He will be one of our top guys this year, when he’s in GR. I say that because he will be one of the first called up if there are injuries in DET. I like his work ethic and his speed.

Chris Minard

He was signed by DET in the off-season for GR. He scored 22 goals in 40 AHL games with Springfield last year. He had one point in five games for Edmonton, which is pretty spectacular for an Oiler. He’s been injured, thus I cannot say anything more about him.

Ilari Filppula

We call him Flip 2. When standing with his hands in his pockets, he looks shockingly like his younger brother. But he doesn’t appear to have to same level of skill as Val does. We’ll see how he does in GR before making any NHL predictions. He was not that impressive during camp.

Willie Coetzee

He’s just a little ball of energy, isn’t he? He works hard and has no problem grinding in the corners. I’m excited to see him in GR.

Joakim Andersson

He’s big. He wasn’t all that impressive, but didn’t make me want to find a corner and cry either. So that’s good, right?

Jordan Owens

Awesome.

Jamie Tardif

Hopefully he’ll get the C again. He’s a great character guy, and has been one of my favorites since he’s been here. He was one of the only guys last year that actually worked for the whole season. He scored a goal in the Red and White game, but other than that didn’t do much offensively. He’s really more of a defensive forward. Mostly he’s a veteran character guy, along the lines of McCarty, but not quite as rough.

Tomas Tatar

Tots is awesome. I can’t say enough about him. He will be a Red Wing. But until then, we will enjoy him fully in GR. Hopefully his ice time will improve, with a lot of guys lower than him on the depth chart.

Fraser said to our Griffins ladies (ask George if you don’t know who they are) before camp that we were gonna like the team this year. After seeing our roster and seeing these guys play for almost a month, I do. I think Emmerton, Mursak, Owens and Tatar will be the big guns on offense. The D will be led by Janik and Smith, with Lashoff not far behind. I think McCollum will have a much better season, with Joey there to show him how to handle the AHL.

Looking at both the Wings roster and the Griffins roster, I’d say this is the best chance we’ve had for a double Cup win. Wings take home #12, and the Griffins get their first Calder Cup since joining the AHL. It’s gonna be a great year for hockey in Michigan!! The puck drops on Friday at 7:00 in GR and 7:30 in DET.