The Malik Report
by George Malik on 05/20/14 at 11:56 AM ET
Based upon yesterday's Tweets and Instagram pictures, the Grand Rapids Griffins chose to remain in Austin after the Texas Stars eliminated them from the Calder Cup playoffs on Sunday evening, enjoying one last day as teammates in the warm weather before returning to Grand Rapids to clean out their lockers and engage in the same kinds of exit interviews that the Wings hold after their season ends.
The Grand Rapids Press's Peter J. Wallner notes that many of the Griffins' moving parts and summertime decisions (Ryan Martin is now the Griffins' GM) will depend upon the Wings' personnel decisions, and as you already know, that's true about the team's decision whether to bring back Jonas Gustavsson or to promote Petr Mrazek...
What Detroit decides to do with its backup goalie situation will affect Mrazek and the Griffins. If Jonas Gustavsson is re-signed, or another free agent acquired, Mrazek will go back for a third season in Grand Rapids. That is not unprecedented; Jimmy Howard played four seasons in Grand Rapids.
Tom McCollum, a five-year vet, had his best season in goal (2.30 GAA and .922 save percentage) but again didn’t see any action in the playoffs until the final two periods of Sunday’s season finale. He was on a one-year deal with Grand Rapids. He could sign again as insurance, or the former No. 1 pick could seek out a better deal elsewhere.
On the blueline...
Xavier Ouellet has change to make the Red Wings. Ryan Sproul will get more seasoning while Adam Almquist is a restricted free agent who is expected to look elsewhere.
Not to be forgotten is Alexey Marchenko, who made the AHL All-Star team before he was lost in late February with a high ankle injury that required surgery.
And of course the team has to decide what's going to happen up front with Mitchell Callahan and Landon Ferraro out of waiver options, with Cory Emmerton and Jordin Tootoo exiting (per Capgeek, the Griffins have 6 RFA's up front), and the Wings deciding whether the forwards they brought in for their playoff run--and to players taking part in the Memorial Cup--are willing to turn pro:
There are also a number of touted newcomers on the horizon, a couple of whom arrived in time to get AHL experience in center Andreas Athanasiou, forwards Zach Nastasiuk and Mattias Janmark and defenseman Mattias Backman.
Two other notables who didn’t get to play at the trail end of the season include the most touted of all in Anthony Mantha, a 6-foot-5, 205-pound right winger who had 120 points (57-63-120) in 57 regular-season game with Val-d’Or in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and added 38 points (24-14-38) in 24 playoff games. He was the league MVP. He will get a shot to make the Red Wings.
The other is left wing Tyler Bertuzzi, another 19-year-old, is an agitator who played the past three seasons with Guelph in the Ontario Hockey League.
Wallner continues and explains the state of the team's veterans. Jeff Hoggan and Nathan Paetsch have another year on their deals (thanks to Fox 17's Steve Amorose for that detail), but Brennan Evans, Nathan Paetsch, Triston Grant and David McIntyre are UFA's-to-be, and of course there's the Blashill question...
I've figured that between the NHL, AHL, ECHL, do-we-sign-this-prospect-or-does-he-turn-pro and coaching decisions, the Wings have over 30 moving parts to work with this summer. The coaches who remain and the management will be very, very busy ensuring that both the Red Wings and Griffins can contend for their respective leagues' championships in both the 2015-2016 season and beyond.
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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.