The Malik Report
Assessing the state of the Grand Rapids Griffins, with an emphasis on foundational (veteran) players
by George Malik on 07/31/13 at 11:30 AM ET
The Grand Rapids Griffins made some superb moves to ensure that as many veteran players from the team's Calder Cup-winning playoff run will remain in tow for the upcoming season, re-signing captain Jeff Hogan, defenseman Nathan Paetsch, forward Triston Grant and defenseman Brennan Evans, and alleviating something of a logjam on the blueline by allowing Brett Skinner to walk while bolstering the forward lines with a classic, "He played well against us, so we want to snag him" signing in center David McIntyre.
The Griffins also retained Tom McCollum's services to help push Jared Coreau and/or serve as something of a security blanket, and they witnessed the Wings reward Luke Glendening's strong 2012-2013 season performance with a two-way contract.
As such, the Griffins feel that they've built a strong core of both veterans and a few up-and-comers around which they can allow the Red Wings' prospects to flourish, and Griffins coach Jeff Blashill told the Rapidian's David Urban that retaining Grant, Evans, Hoggan and Paetsch were nothing less than essential moves:
"Signing those four guys is critical for us, both for winning and for developing the younger guys," Blahsill said.
Blashill cited the veterans' character and work ethic, emphasizing that Hoggan, Grant, Paetsch and Evans created a "culture of winning" that helped shape Red Wings prospects.
"Our prospects learned a ton from them," Blashill said.
Blashill offered the following regarding the 26-year-old McIntyre...
Last season, McIntyre contributed 15 goals, 18 points and a team-leading plus-19 rating in 68 games for the Houston Aeros. He also played impressively during the Aeros' first-round playoff series against the Griffins, adding two goals and an assist in five games. Blashill said how challenging McIntyre was to play against, noting, among other things, his ability to win face-offs. Blashill looks forward to having McIntyre continue his development with the Griffins.
"He's entering the prime of his pro career and his best days are ahead," said Blashill.
It's worth noting the names of those who've departed for greener pastures...
Notable departures include forward Francis Pare, the Griffins' second all-time leading goal scorer, who signed a two-year contract with TPS of the Finnish elite hockey league, SM-liiga; second-leading playoff scorer Jan Mursak, who signed a one-year contract with Amur Khabarovsk of the Russia-based Kontinental Hockey League; and top-scoring defenseman Chad Billins, who signed a one-year, two-way NHL contract with the Calgary Flames.
(You can include Skinner, who has yet to sign with another AHL or pro team, and Brent Raedeke, who signed with the Deutsche Eishockey Liga's Iserlohn Roosters, to that list)
And these paragraphs are incredibly important, too:
AHL rules specify that teams are only allowed to play five veterans--defined as having played more than a combined 260 games in the AHL, NHL or top European leagues--per game. AHL rules also permit teams to play one additional player who has played over 260 but under 320 games. McIntyre has played in 228 professional games.
The Griffins are likely reserving their fifth veteran spot for a Red Wings player who may be sent to Grand Rapids to pare down the parent club's currently overcrowded roster.
Urban continues, and his article's more than worth your time.
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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.