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Wallner: Grand Rapids Griffins roster’s shape entinwed with Wings personnel moves

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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Comments

SYF's avatar

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.

And they still have the draft coming up and then after that is the summer prospect camp.  How the Wings and the Griffs mix it all up is gonna be really, really interesting.

Posted by SYF from The Revenge of Johnny E on 05/20/14 at 11:12 AM ET

detroitredwings's avatar

Wallner: Grand Rapids Griffins 2015-2016 roster’s shape entinwed with Wings personnel moves

are we skipping 2014-2015 season?

Posted by detroitredwings on 05/20/14 at 12:13 PM ET

HockeytownOverhaul's avatar

You have paetsch as a year on his deal and UFA.. Which is it? 

Also on the Almquist thing.  rafalski.  Krug.  Point machine.  PP guy.  Do the wings evaluate talent or size?  A eighty with that hockey vision on the back end is invaluable.  Guess there’s only so much you can do to prove yourself.  Rafalski had to toil til almost 30 in various leagues before getting his shot.  Then was considered elite.  How could scouts not see passed his size and recognize elite skill?  And he had what 6 trips to the Finals is his abbreviated career?

Posted by HockeytownOverhaul on 05/20/14 at 12:31 PM ET

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Posted by HockeytownOverhaul on 05/20/14 at 01:31 PM ET

The only thing I can find on Paetsch is on wikipedia, which says he is signed until the end of next season.

Re: Almquist, he’s not a righty and he hasn’t really proven anything yet, at least not at the NHL level.  As for a righty with hockey vision, that’s Marchenko.

Also, Rafalski’s NHL career started when he was 26, which is a fair distance from 30, and he likely benefited from being on a very, very good defensive team which allowed him to use his offensive talents.  Detroit doesn’t necessarily have the option of bringing up an undersized defenseman when he doesn’t address their needs.

Posted by Garth on 05/20/14 at 01:08 PM ET

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Bertuzzi and Nastansiuk are too young to play in the AHL next year as they are 1995s. Mantha is a 94 so he can turn pro along with Athanasiou.

Posted by Malleus Maleficarum on 05/20/14 at 02:43 PM ET

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and of course there’s the Blashill question…

Let me run this thought past you intelligent RW fans.  If Babcock were offered the GM job at Pittsburgh, that would be a promotion.  They did not fire the coach because Babcock would have a (chance) to hire Blashill as the coach.  Howland has complained about not receiving compensation for all the organization training they are doing and has suggested draft picks in return.  Babcock could then be the GM for Canada at next Olympics. (OH how the mind wanders)  grin

Posted by guy on 05/20/14 at 04:13 PM ET

Vladimir16's avatar

Posted by
     
    HockeytownOverhaul
     
      on 05/20/14 at 01:31 PM ET

Almquist is talented but is a little fella who gets hurt at the AHL level. The NHL is bigger…

Posted by Vladimir16 from Grand River Valley on 05/20/14 at 05:17 PM ET

HockeytownOverhaul's avatar

We have any other dmen potting 50pnts in the AHL? And if he could do that injured… I want to get as big as the next guy but our PP is shit and you don’t put up those stats by accident.  And I also like what I’ve seen of Almquist so far.  I’d think he’d be worth a look.  Sucks to let him go for nothing

Posted by HockeytownOverhaul on 05/20/14 at 06:17 PM ET

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and you don’t put up those stats by accident.

How do you know he’s capable of doing that on a consistent basis in the AHL, much less that he could replicate it in the NHL?

Sucks to let him go for nothing

He’s an RFA, who says he gets let go for nothing?

Posted by Garth on 05/20/14 at 06:44 PM ET

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Bertuzzi and Nastansiuk are too young to play in the AHL next year as they are 1995s. Mantha is a 94 so he can turn pro along with Athanasiou.

False. The rule in the AHL (like the NHL) is that you have to be 18 years old by September 15. That means anyone born on or before September 15, 1996 is eligible to play in the AHL next season (and, in fact, Nastasiuk has already been playing for the Griffins in these playoffs).

And moving on, Almquist. I keep reading that he’s expected to move on elsewhere, that he has no shot to make the team, that the Wings won’t retain him.

I’m not in Detroit’s front office, but I just can’t believe the Wings aren’t even going to give him a chance. He’s been the Griffins’ best defenseman for two years. He’s small but he’s so smart, and he actually can move the freaking puck. Sure, maybe he’s got a lower ceiling than some of the other guys, maybe he doesn’t pan out, but I don’t get why you would let him walk after only 2 games of NHL experience. It’s not like you have to bet the farm on him; he’s an RFA. If it doesn’t work out so what? Better to see what you have, right?

Chelios must hate him or something. I can’t explain it any other way.

Posted by Sven22 from Grand Rapids on 05/21/14 at 07:34 AM ET

George Malik's avatar

In the summertime the talk is always about size and right-handed defensemen. Come fall, it’s about “compete level,” and Almquist has proven that he can compete and thrive. I don’t see the Wings doing anything less than giving him an equal chance to make the team as Marchenko, Sproul, Ouellet, Backman, etc.

The deal with Bertuzzi and Nastasiuk under the new CBA—at least as I understand it—is that the players cannot play in the AHL during their *draft year,* no matter what (it’s NHL or Major Junior), but *then* that September 15th cut-off applies.

I don’t see Bertuzzi making the AHL anyway as he’s just graduated high school (i.e. we forget that he really is “a kid”), and Nastasiuk was born in 1995, but his future depends on whether the Owen Sound Attack plan on retaining him as captain or whether they’re planning on retooling—and whether there’s room in Grand Rapids, too.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 05/21/14 at 07:43 AM ET

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The deal with Bertuzzi and Nastasiuk under the new CBA—at least as I understand it—is that the players cannot play in the AHL during their *draft year,* no matter what (it’s NHL or Major Junior), but *then* that September 15th cut-off applies.

That can’t be a rule, though, George—or at least if there is a rule it has to be much more nuanced than that—because there are 2013 draft picks who have played in the AHL this year. Most fall into the category of “joined the AHL after their junior team’s season ended,” but a few of the guys who made their NHL teams at the beginning of the season were freely shuffled back and forth between leagues. (Elias) Lindholm and Ristolainen both fall into this category. (Hampus) Lindholm was drafted in 2012 and played all 2012-13 in the AHL, though as a skater coming from the Euro pro leagues he had no junior team to go back to.

In practice, yes, if a NA skater isn’t good enough to crack his NHL team as an 18 or 19 year old, teams pretty much universally choose to return them to their CHL or NCAA squad, rather than put them through the grinder against men in the AHL. It seems to be standard practice, but I don’t think there’s actually anything in the CBA that requires it to be this way. I certainly haven’t seen anything like that in the CBA.

I do agree with you that Bertuzzi almost certainly won’t play in Grand Rapids next year. Unless his first name is Todd. (That’s a joke.)

Posted by Sven22 from Grand Rapids on 05/21/14 at 08:29 AM ET

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It may have changed with the new CBA but I’ve read that the NHL has an understanding that CHL players can’t make the jump to the AHL until they’re too old for the CHL, so for 18-year-olds it’s either the NHL or the CHL.

I can’t find anything more recent than summer 2012 to support this though…

Posted by Garth on 05/21/14 at 08:57 AM ET

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Okay, I’ve looked into this a little bit more and it appears to be part of the private transfer agreement between the NHL and the CHL.

It is NOT written into the NHL CBA (although it may be “tied” to the CBA, in the sense that the agreements would expire concurrently); it’s similar in nature to the independent agreements that the NHL has with, say, various European leagues regarding the movement of players between leagues.

This would explain why CHL players, as far as I can tell, universally play there either until they’re ready to jump directy to the NHL or their CHL eligibility has run out, while players coming from Europe or another North American junior league (USHL, NCAA) can join the AHL immediately.

But as far as I can tell it has nothing to do with the year a player is drafted, and is not explicitly written into the NHL CBA, but is a separate private agreement between the NHL and CHL.

Posted by Sven22 from Grand Rapids on 05/21/14 at 09:34 AM ET

George Malik's avatar

Attack of Ye Olde side letters! The NHLPA didn’t make the league release its side agreements this time around.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 05/21/14 at 09:49 AM ET

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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.