Kukla's Korner

The Malik Report

Red Wings prospect news: on Tootoo’s Griffins-Walleye roster ramifications and Mantha

Thursday night was a bit of a "slow" evening for the Red Wings' prospects, but I've decided to separate prospect news from "big club" news, so you'll have to bear with me.

The Red Wings did assign Jordin Tootoo to Grand Rapids, and he'll be wearing #22 when the Griffins attempt to rebound from their 2-1 loss to Milwaukee when they host the Rockford IceHogs tonight (and the Griffins also play in Chicago on Saturday).

As I stated regarding MLive's Peter J. Wallner's conversation with Griffins coach Jeff Blashill, the AHL is a very different league than the NHL--a league where teams more or less have to carry a dedicated enforcer of some kind, and where fighting is not on the decline--so Tootoo is incredibly likely to drop his gloves more games than not.

While Tootoo thanked fans for their well-wishes...

The Left Wing Lock's Sarah Lindneau noted that the demotions of Tootoo, Cory Emmerton, Gustav Nyquist and, assuming he clears waivers, Patrick Eaves, well...

They're going to yield a very crowded Toledo Walleye roster.

Trevor Parkes is probably going to remain in Toledo for a while as he's established himself as a scorer at the ECHL level; defenseman Max Nicastro seems to have found a home there, at least for the present moment, and that's good as a stay-at-home guy can get lost in the shuffle in GR; it's all but guaranteed that his partner in crime, Richard Nedomlel, is going to head there as well given that Xavier Ouellet's been returned to GR; with Tom McCollum playing fantastic, the only way Jared Coreau's going to get playing time is by playing in the ECHL; and RedWingsCentral summarized Martin Frk's situation best in their top-21 fall prospect ranking:

17. Martin Frk, RW, Toledo (ECHL), 3-1-2-3-6, minus-4, 4 SOG.: An incredible slap shot will only get you so far, and Frk’s bad junior habits aren’t looking good so far in the pros. While he flashes high-end scoring potential, he’s struggling with the pace of the AHL game and will need to make the most of his assignment to the ECHL.

Frk was playing on a line with Jonathan Drouin and Nathan MacKinnon last spring, so it's not surprising that he's struggling to adjust to pro hockey absent the top two picks in the 2013 draft. He's still got a wicked shot and a power forward's bowl-your-way-to-the-net mentality, but he's got to do his own dirty work and stop passing and passing and passing and passing some more while expecting someone else to set up a picture-perfect goal for him.

The Left Wing Lock's Sarah Lindenau duly noted all of the above-named prospects' statuses and listed the names of players who may join them due to Tootoo's demotion and Eaves' possible demotion (and I'll let you read her takes on Frk and Parkes on your own):

  • Louis-Marc Aubry – The 6-foot-4, 205 pound forward has been limited to just one game with the Griffins this season so sending him down to Toledo might be the only option to get him additional playing time.

Aubry needs playing time, and he's not getting it in GR. He'd be a fine fit with Toledo.

  • Gleason Fournier – The undersized defenseman is in the final year of his entry-level contract and desperately needs to show he can take the next step. He’s had a tough time early, playing in just three AHL games so it seems like another stop in Toledo may be on the horizon with the arrival of the extra bodies in Grand Rapids.

Still not quite sure why he's in GR.

  • Andrej Nestrasil – The 6-foot-2, 200 pound winger has finally earned an AHL roster spot this season and netted 2 goals and 5 assists in 14 games after spending the bulk of his first few seasons with Toledo. Nestrasil is in the final season of his contract and needs a break through season to earn another contract with Detroit.

Lindenau and I are both big fans of Nestrasil the player and Nestrasil the person, but whether his desire to recast himself as a two-way center can play out depends on playing games.

  • Mitch Callahan – the 6-foot, 190 pound forward is producing consistently with 5 goals and 9 points in 14 AHL games this season, but he now may have to compete with Tootoo and Eaves if both are in Grand Rapids. Callahan needs to have a big year to prove he is ready for the next step.

And then there's this:

The additions of Eaves and Tootoo will have the greatest impact on AHL veterans such as Tristan Grant, Jeff Hoggan,  Nathan Paetsch and Brennan Evans because of the veteran player limit which allows AHL teams to dress only five veterans per game. With the Griffins making a strong push toward defending their Calder Cup, the Red Wings management will need to monitor the veteran situation closely to mitigate the long term impacts on prospect development.

That's a big sticky wicket. The Griffins are the Wings' primary developmental arm, but they're in the business of winning games, too, and both teams are aware of the fact that the Hoggans, Paetsches, Evanses and Grants were brought back to lead "the kids," not sit.

Whoever's in the Walleye lineup will head to Fort Wayne for a game against the Komets on Friday, and the Walleye will return home to host the Reading Royals on Sunday, holding a belated Veteran's Day promotion during the game.


In Sweden, Mattias Janmark didn't play in AIK Stockholm's 1-0 loss to Leksands IF, but Marie Hallman reports that AIK hopes to get Janmark back in the lineup (he suffered what could've been a nasty knee injury during the Karjala Cup) on Sunday;

And Mattias Backman didn't register a point but played 15:42 in Linkopings HC's 5-2 loss to Farjestads BK.

Back on this side of the pond, in the QMJHL, Anthony Mantha only scored a goal on six shots in the Val-d'Or Foreurs' 4-2 win over Chicoutimi, and was only named the game's first star. He's up to 23 goals, 27 assists and 50 points registered over the course of 21 games played;

And Phillipe Hudon didn't register a point in the Victoriaville Tigres' 4-2 win over Saint John.

Going forward, the QMJHL will lead off a set of six Subway Super Series games played between Canadian Hockey League players and a team of Russian prospects, with the series set to start with a pair of games on Monday, November 18th and Wednesday, November 20th in Quebec.

Anthony Mantha will play in both of the QMJHL's games (Zach Nastasiuk will play for the OHL in Game 3 on November 21st, and Jake Paterson will play in Game 4 on November 24th) against Russia, and ESPN's Corey Pronman suggests that Mantha's going to be a must-watch-player--which will be easier in Canada as all six games will air on Sportsnet:

Anthony Mantha, LW, Val d'Or Foreurs (QMJHL), Detroit Red Wings

I discussed Mantha earlier this season and since then, he's continued to light the QMJHL on fire. Mantha's 2.45 points per game and 6.1 shots per game are staggering totals. Mantha is a big, high-end skater with the skill and instincts to create offense at a high level. He's also a good finisher (as evidenced by that point production). One may be wary about a player putting up giant CHL numbers as a 19-year-old, but also based on his physical tools, the early returns seem good for Detroit. Keep an eye on Mantha for Team QMJHL as a key scoring contributor.

Quoting his October 10th entry, as it's an Insider-only affair:

Anthony Mantha, LW, Detroit Red Wings (Val-d'Or-QMJHL): Mantha has gotten off to a quick start in his final QMJHL season, with 11 goals and 18 points in his first seven games. He leads the league in goals, and is second in overall scoring to Panthers prospect Christopher Clapperton.

Mantha's a very toolsy forward who is fun to watch. It's not often you see a 6-foot-4 forward who can skate and make plays with the puck at an above-average level. With his steady physical development, Mantha looks ready to dominate the QMJHL offensively.

However, Mantha's two-way game has shown some improvements from last season, too. He's being used on the penalty kill with moderate effectiveness, and given his speed, that makes him a threat for short-handed goals. Detroit's first round pick in 2013 is a leading candidate to be the QMJHL's MVP this season.

We'll wrap this little ditty up with some game action:

In the OHL, the aforementioned Nastasiuk registered an assist and finished at +1 as his Owen Sound Attack (Nastasiuk's the team captain) defeated the Peterborough Petes 6-1;

And Andreas Athanasiou, who's been in a bit of a funk of late, got back on track via a 2-assist performance in the Barrie Colts' 7-1 win over Sudbury. Athanasiou's registered 8 goals, 13 assists and 21 points over the course of 18 games played.

Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink


Primis's avatar

I’d send down Aubry and Fournier.

Aubry has time and needs the playing time.

I have no idea what the Wings see in Gleason Fournier, and he probably belongs in Toledo where he’ll probably then stay.  I don’t possibly see him getting another DET contract.

Nestrasil has earned his place in GR, and paid his dues already in the ECHL IMO.  He’s a guy that if they’re going to send him back down to Toledo they may as well not even have him under contract because they’re not giving him a fair shot then.  He’s still a longshot to ever land in DET but, he at least deserves to be seen out.

Callahan has also earned his spot in GR and similar to Nestrasil if they’re just going to send him down I don’t see why they even have him under contract.

Toledo is going to be battling with Cincy for that North Division this year.  Evansville is going to fall off likely, and I don’t see Fort Wayne or Kalamazoo capable of challenging as it stands now.  Ever since the Walleye have come back from hiatus with the new moniker they’ve never really been competitive.  But man, they are gonna’ be loaded this time.  You don’t see too many ECHL teams with THAT many NHL contracted players on roster.  Do keep in mind though that ECHL rosters are smaller than NHL rosters, so Toledo might have to release ECHL-contracted guys they’d maybe rather keep long-term if DET calls guys back up to GR.

RE: Hoggan, Paetsch, Evans, and Grant…. the problem is Eaves and/or Tootoo fill that leadership role for the kids just as easily.

Posted by Primis on 11/15/13 at 12:01 PM ET

OlderThanChelios's avatar

(Mantha)‘s up to 23 goals, 27 assists and 50 points registered over the course of 21 games played

It’s too bad he can’t be moved up to GR. Scoring like that is great, but right now would be the perfect time for him to experience a dose of pro-level hockey before it all goes to his head. Hopefully, his coach is helping him with that. Giving him some time on the PK is a good start in that direction.

As for Eaves, I’m kind of surprised some GM hasn’t scooped him up yet.

Posted by OlderThanChelios from Grand Rapids, MI on 11/15/13 at 12:01 PM ET

Add a Comment

Please limit embedded image or media size to 575 pixels wide.

Add your own avatar by joining Kukla's Korner, or logging in and uploading one in your member control panel.

Captchas bug you? Join KK or log in and you won't have to bother.


Notify me of follow-up comments?


Most Recent Blog Posts

About The Malik Report

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.