The Malik Report
by George Malik on 07/03/14 at 12:07 PM ET
I know that Red WIngs fans were about as thrilled with the team's signings of forwards Kevin Porter and Andy Miele as you or I would be with getting lumps of coal on Christmas, but the signings did help build the foundation of the 2014-2015 Grand Rapids Griffins' roster.
Today, the Grand Rapids Press's Peter J. Wallner examines the Griffins' roster as it stands after the Porter and Miele signings. as well as the signing of Shane Berschbach, who inked an AHL-only deal:
Miele was the third leading scorer in the AHL with 72 points (27-45-72) in 70 games with Portland last season, while Porter played 50 games with Rochester with 36 points (19-17-36) and got into 12 games with the Buffalo Sabres (0-1-1). Both are former Hobey Baker Award winners.
Berschbach, a collegiate the past four seasons, will battle for a roster spot in Grand Rapids or be sent to Toledo in the ECHL.
Those deals come after the Red Wings on Monday made qualifying offers to seven restricted free agents, retaining their rights, including notable Griffins from last year in Landon Ferraro, Mitch Callahan and Andrej Nestrasil. Those three will compete for a roster spot with the Red Wings this fall, but could land back in Grand Rapids.
Among the youngsters, forwards Teemu Pulkkinen, Andreas Athanasiou and touted prospect Anthony Mantha, and defensemen Alexey Marchenko, Ryan Sproul and Xavier Ouellet are among the top considerations with the parent club. But, likewise, any of them could open the season with the Griffins.
Wallner notes that the Wings can still send Tomas Jurco to Grand Rapids if they face another roster or cap crunch come September; he also notes that Petr Mrazek's signing of a 1-year extension and the Wings' decision to sign Tom McCollum to a 2-way deal means that the Griffins will probably utilize the same 1A-1B tandem as they did last season, despite the fact that Jared Coreau's in the organization and that Jake Paterson is turning pro.
Also on the Griffins roster is center Jeff Hoggan, the team captain who will enter the last year of a three-year AHL contract along with defenseman Nathan Paetsch. They are worth noting because, along with Miele and Porter, they give the Griffins four veteran skaters, with decisions still to be made on defenseman Brennan Evans and forward Triston Grant, veteran leaders the past two seasons.
In the AHL, 13 of 18 skaters (excluding goalies) must have 260 or fewer pro games. Because of the rule, last year the Griffins were forced to sit veterans on numerous occasions following moves by the Red Wings.
And again, the Detroit Free Press's George Sipple noted that the Wings will have a much bigger say in the Toledo Walleye's personnel now that the ECHL team has dropped its dual affiliation with the Wings and Blackhawks:
The Wings plan to stock up to five players with the Walleye. They also will help scout and attract players who sign contracts with the Walleye.
Wings assistant general manager Ryan Martin was part of the committee that helped bring in Derek Lalonde, a former Ferris State assistant in 2003-06, as the Walleye’s new coach.
Martin said the ECHL affiliation is getting more important. Developing talent in the farm system is more important under the salary-cap constraints NHL teams have been playing under in recent years.
“Before, it used to be a spot to house the fifth goalie in your organization and a couple NHL contracts that weren’t ready for the American League,” Martin said. “And whether they played their way out of (Toledo) or not remained to be seen.”
Last season, the Walleye benefited from the Wings having an overabundance of defensemen in Grand Rapids. Richard Nedomlel, a sixth-round pick in 2011, spent all but three games in his first season as a pro playing for the Walleye, where he had eight goals and 10 assists in 60 games.
Sometimes, the Wings will move a player struggling in Grand Rapids, their American Hockey League affiliate, to Toledo, as they did last season with forward Martin Frk, a second-round pick in 2012. Frk had five goals and eight assists in 15 games for the Walleye.
In terms of the players the Red Wings chose not to qualify, the Griffins website's "Alumni Tracker" lets us know where some of the players ended up:
July 2: Willie Coetzee (2009-13) - Signed to a tryout by the EC Graz 99ers (Austria)
Max Nicastro (2012-14) - Signed by HC Banska Bystrica (Slovakia)
Joey MacDonald (2002-07;10-12) - Signed to a one-year contract by the Montreal Canadiens
Drew MacIntyre (2004-06) - Signed to a one-year contract by the Carolina Hurricanes
Petr Mrazek (2012-14) - Signed to a one-year extension (for 2015-16) by the Detroit Red Wings
June 30: Adam Almquist (2012-14) - Tendered a qualifying offer by the Detroit Red Wings
June 25: Adam Almquist (2012-14) - Signed to a two-year contract by Severstal Cherepovets (KHL)
June 11: David McIntyre (2013-14) - Signed by SaiPa Lappeenranta (Finland)
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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.