The Malik Report
by George Malik on 09/13/11 at 07:42 PM ET
If what I saw this past summer held true during the Red Wings’ prospect tournament, the team’s made two superb signings which present no risk whatsoever to the team as the now Red Wings-managed Grand Rapids Griffins signed two slightly undersized but highly-skilled prospects to AHL-only contracts, which means that neither player takes up a spot on the Wings’ NHL roster, that they can turn pro with the Griffins or Walleye, and if they don’t work out for the Wings over the course of this season, they can impress 29 other NHL teams’ GM’s:
GRIFFINS SIGN ESTOCLET AND RUFENACH
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The Grand Rapids Griffins on Tuesday announced the signings of forward Adam Estoclet (EHST-oh-clay) and defenseman Bryan Rufenach (ROOF-uh-nahk) to standard AHL player’s contracts.
Estoclet, a 22-year old native of Orono, Minn., was second in scoring for Dartmouth College in 2010-11, recording 29 points and a team-high 16 goals in 34 games (16-13—29). After completing his senior year, he joined the Providence Bruins for a seven-game stint, registering two assists and seven penalty minutes. In 127 games over four years at Dartmouth, Estoclet picked up 104 points (39-65—104). He led Dartmouth in scoring as a sophomore in 2008-09 and tied for ninth in ECAC scoring after tallying 21 points (5-16—21) in 22 conference games and 32 points (8-24—32) in 31 total contests that season.
Rufenach, 22, was the Detroit Red Wings’ seventh-round selection (208th overall) in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft. He recorded 11 points (4-7—11) in 33 games at Clarkson University in 2010-11 before joining the ECHL’s Toledo Walleye for six games, where he notched his first two professional points (1-1—2).
The Cameron, Ontario, native skated in 136 contests during his collegiate career, recording 55 points (21-34—55). He led all Clarkson defensemen in scoring as a sophomore and junior, and he tied for the team lead in that department last season.
Both players are currently competing for the Red Wings at the annual prospects tournament in Traverse City, Mich. They are expected to remain with the team when the main training camp starts this Saturday.
Rufenach’s always displayed the, “Possible Brett Lebda circa 2007-2008” skill level in terms of skating and puck-moving during his tenure as a Wings prospect, but he’s never filled out physically, nor has he displayed much consistency to his game, so he’s the perfect candidate to head down to Toledo and play in the ECHL while attempting to establish himself as a pro; Estcolet is skinny as a rake at a very generously listed 6’2” and 182 pounds, but he’s a classically speedy, puck-moving forward who can roar up the ice and generate offense on the rush. He’ll hope to break in with the Griffins as Francis Pare did two years ago, working his way up the roster, and, like Pare, earning himself an NHL contract with the Wings.
That’s actually the case for both players—their AHL-only deals mean that they’re the Griffins’ property and can neither be called up without signing a pro contract, nor do they need to be exposed to any waiver process, and again, they don’t take up a spot on the Wings’ jam-packed 50-man roster, but if they don’t work out in Toledo or Grand Rapids, the Wings’ AHL affiliate can let the players go and hope they’ve impressed one of 29 other NHL teams’ front offices a year from now.
This is a great pair of no-brainer signings that allows the Jim Nill-managed Griffins, the Wings and the signed prospects to prosper and hopefully officially become Wings prospects down the line while allowing the Wings to also consider offering roster spots to their NHL try-outs (Fabian Brunnstrom and Ryan Johnson) and/or other players who are taking part in the prospect tournament.
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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.