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The Malik Report

St. James on the Griffins’ likely graduates

The Free Press's Helene St. James wonders which members of the Grand Rapids Griffins' playoff run will contribute most directly to the Red Wings' roster, and she comes up with a bit of a cup of cold water.

The Griffins' playoff roster was more about winning than it was about player development, and as such, some of the Red Wings' best prospects served either supporting roles or were "Black Aces" while players like Eric Tangradi, Ben Street, Mitch Callahan, Brian Lashoff and Nathan Paetsch did the heaviest lifting.

There were several exceptions to the veteran rule, however, in players like Evgeny Svechnikov, Tyler Bertuzzi, Martin Frk, Tomas Nosek, Joe Hicketts, Robbie Russo and Jared Coreau, and St. James makes her picks as to who she believes will make a difference on the Wings' roster in the shortest order:

Svechnikov, 20, tops the list of prospects who helped the Griffins win. He’s a first-round pick, 19th overall, from the 2015 draft. Skilled and driven, he’ll play in the NHL, maybe as soon as next season. He showed tremendous growth this past season, reaching 20 goals, and contributed 12 points in the playoffs.

Tyler Bertuzzi, 22, is another forward who could make the Wings as soon as next season. He also has a bright NHL future. He’s a gritty winger with an instinctive knack for getting open.

After those two, the list of Griffins who may make the Wings better in the near future gets sparse. Tomas Nosek, 24, is a big, defensively responsible forward. He’ll probably make the Wings out of camp, no longer waiver-exempt, and he could make a nice fit as the fourth-line center. Forward Martin Frk, 23, intrigues because he has a blistering, right-handed shot, but standing out at the AHL level is no guarantee a player will perform similarly in the NHL (Teemu Pulkkinen and Tomas Jurco are recent examples of that).

Goaltender Jared Coreau, 25, looked impressive at times during his nearly three-month stint with the Wings this past season, which included two shutouts, but his play faltered as the time between starts increased, and that’s something he’ll need to address because playing backup would be his role in Detroit.

St. James continues, and she's not much of a Russo fan, nor does she believe that the Griffins' prospect blueliners are going to make an immediate impact, and I wouldn't disagree there. Russo is a second-year pro, Hicketts just completed his rookie season, and Filip Hronek and Vili Saarijarvi have some seasoning ahead of them.

The Wings may have to sign another NCAA free agent or two and work hard to draft some quick learners if they're looking for next-season impact on the blueline.

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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.

 

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