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PostPosted: Wed Jan 28, 2009 10:33 am 
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Johnston improving, but can go higher:

http://www.redwingscentral.com/stories/ ... Report.php

Quote:
Even though Stephen Johnston has nearly quadrupled his point total this season, he may only have scratched the surface of his potential.

"He has a ways to go as far as his ability to develop, but that's a good thing," said Detroit Red Wings scout Mark Leach. "He's just starting to get a real feel for the game, and I think he's got a lot of upside."

The 6-foot-2, 185-pound center has been a steady contributor for the Ontario Hockey League's Belleville Bulls, with 12 goals and 20 assists for 32 points in 41 games. He had just seven points as a fourth-liner last season.

The Red Wings drafted him 181st overall in June, hoping he'd emerge as a late-round steal once given a bigger role with the Bulls. He's getting more ice time and playing in more key situations, and his game is progressing.

"He's really made a step from last year to this year ... He's getting stronger and putting more points up," Leach said. "He was a solid two-way player when we drafted him, and he's just continued to improve."

Johnston's best assets are that he "skates well for a big guy," he "competes," and he's "willing to play in the hard areas," Leach said.

"Is he going to be a top-line guy? I don't know yet," Leach said. "But he's going to play an effective game at both ends of the ice."

RED WING REUNION: Forward Johan Ryno (AIK, Swedish Allsvenskan) had a couple of goals this week and has 10 points in 13 games in a season derailed by injuries. Ryno is teammates with two former Red Wings draftees, David Engblom (35-4-4-8) and Christofer Lofberg (21-3-4-7).

LEINO'S LATEST: Here are the numbers for forward Ville Leino (Grand Rapids, American Hockey League). First 10 games: four goals and 11 assists for 15 points. Next 34 games: seven goals and 15 assists for 22 points.

ALL-STAR SKILLS: Goaltender Daniel Larsson stopped five of six shooters in the breakaway event and defenseman Jakub Kindl clocked a time of 14.937 seconds in the fastest skater event as the Grand Rapids Griffins teammates helped PlanetUSA beat Canada in the AHL skills competition on Sunday.

HOT HOWARD: Is goaltender Jimmy Howard (Grand Rapids, AHL) in the midst of one of his famous hot streaks? It sure looks like it. In his past 11 appearances dating back to Dec. 17, Howard has a miniscule 1.63 goals-against average, a .941 save percentage, three shutouts and an 8-3 record.

A strong finish to the season will help Howard erase a sluggish start and reestablish him in the Red Wings' plans for 2009-10.

BIG RIG IN THE SHOP? Defenseman Jonathan Ericsson (Grand Rapids, AHL) has been battling knee and wrist injuries lately.

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 08, 2009 6:50 pm 
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Rufenach needs to refine free-wheeling game

http://www.redwingscentral.com/stories/ ... Report.php

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The good news for free-wheeling defenseman Bryan Rufenach is, he is blessed with hockey assets that are not easily taught.

"This kid jumps into the offense, he anticipates the play, he skates real well and handles the puck well," said Detroit Red Wings scout Mark Leach. "He can move the puck and shoot the puck and jumps into holes and he creates scoring chances. Those things just come naturally to him."

So what's the bad news?

"We feel he needs to really improve his defensive game and play more controlled on the back end, but that can be taught," Leach said.

The 6-foot, 184-pound Rufenach is an NCAA sophomore with the Clarkson Golden Knights. He is off the radar, even for a Red Wings prospect. He was drafted 208th overall in 2007, three picks away from being Mr. Irrelevant, and he isn't listed on Red Wings Central's top-25 ranking of prospects.

But he quarterbacks the power play at Clarkson and is the team's top-scoring defenseman with six goals and four assists in 24 games.

The Red Wings are hopeful he will develop into a Derek Meech-type player, but Rufenach has plenty of defensive work ahead to even get up to speed with fellow prospect Logan Pyett, another Meech clone.

Rufenach has two more seasons to round out his game at Clarkson before the Red Wings must make a decision on whether or not to sign him.

Here are some notes from the past week.

* What hasn't killed goaltender Thomas McCollum (Brampton, Ontario Hockey League) may have made him stronger. Since a rough appearance with the U.S. at the world junior championship, McCollum has a 9-1 record while recording three shutouts in his past six starts. He has allowed just 10 goals in his last eight starts for a 1.23 goals-against average and a .952 save percentage. McCollum now leads the OHL with a whopping six shutouts.

* Goaltender Jimmy Howard (Grand Rapids, American Hockey League) was named AHL's player of the week last week. The red-hot stopper now has a better goals-against average than Daniel Larsson (2.38 to 2.42) and has responded nicely to the challenge posed by Larsson's strong play.

* Defenseman Sergei Kolosov (Grand Rapids, AHL) exploded this week for three goals in two games. They were his first goals of his AHL career. Surprisingly, Kolosov is just five points behind highly-touted Jonathan Ericsson and is a point ahed of the more offensively-gifted Logan Pyett.

* Forward Gustav Nyquist (Maine, NCAA) has gone a bit cold by his standards lately, with just two points in his past seven games.

* Forward Randy Cameron (Moncton, QMJHL) is also ice-cold. He has just four points in his past 13 games in a pivotal contract year.

* The Red Wings called up forward Ville Leino this week and he responded with an absolute beauty of a goal in his NHL debut. Forward Justin Abdelkader also got the call and put forth a solid two-way effort.

* Defenseman Brian Lashoff (Kingston, Ontario Hockey League) was named team captain late last month, a big compliment for an 18-year-old.

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 23, 2009 10:16 am 
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Cayer creating havoc at Clarkson:

http://www.redwingscentral.com/stories/ ... Report.php

Quote:
It's been a long time since the Detroit Red Wings had a 6-foot-3 forward prospect who is a crasher, a banger, and has decent skills to boot.

But that's exactly what Julien Cayer has to offer, and he's quietly progressing as an NCAA freshman with the Clarkson Golden Knights.

"He's played a big, strong game, he's physical and he uses his body," said Red Wings scout Mark Leach. "He creates chances offensively, he crashes the net, and he causes some havoc down low, and that's kind of his game.

"He uses his body really effectively."

Leach said the 181-pound Cayer is still growing into his frame and he needs to get stronger, but that's a given with any prospect.

He's looked comfortable with the NCAA game, skating a regular checking-line shift with Clarkson and getting some power-play time in front of the net and along the half boards. He has three goals and six assists in 23 games.

Cayer, drafted 151st overall last summer, should get a bigger role at Clarkson next season with the graduations of Shea Guthrie and Chris D'Alvise. The Red Wings hope that will help him blossom offensively at the college level.

"They have some older forwards there and it's a matter of time to wait his turn and get up onto those top lines on a regular basis," Leach said.

Here are some other notes from the past week.

* Forward Ville Leino stayed with the big club this week after being called up from Grand Rapids in late January. He has a goal and two assists in four games. Justin Abdelkader (two games, no points) was sent back to Grand Rapids, while Darren Helm replaced him and is scoreless in three games.

* Center Evan McGrath (Grand Rapids, American Hockey League) has 29 points in his last 35 games. That's a pace that pretty much matches Leino's scoring clip on the farm. The difference is, McGrath's three years younger.

The 23-year-old looked like a write-off when he was a healthy scratch early in the year, but kudos to him for putting in the effort and turning his game around. The Red Wings will likely re-sign him as a result.

* Forward Gustav Nyquist (Maine, NCAA) may have finally hit a wall after a torrid start. He has no goals and two assists in his past eight games.

* Defenseman Jonathan Ericsson (Grand Rapids, AHL) is still on the shelf with troublesome knee and wrist injuries. He hasn't had a terribly overwhelming season, but this certainly isn't helping him get it together.

* Forward Jan Mursak (Grand Rapids, AHL) scored his first pro goal this week. This has been a disappointing rookie campaign for Mursak, but he still has potential to grow in the next few seasons. Just look at McGrath.


McGrath back on the map:

http://www.redwingscentral.com/stories/ ... Report.php

Quote:
Evan McGrath is finally putting it together in the pros.

The 23-year-old former junior scoring star has recovered from an underwhelming start and emerged as one of the Grand Rapids Griffins' most consistently productive players in his third American Hockey League season.

After being a healthy scratch early in the year, McGrath is now fourth in Griffins scoring with 12 goals and 23 assists for 35 points in 47 games.

"Evan's put himself back on the map as far as being a prospect," said Griffins general manager Bob McNamara. "His attitude was great when he sat out, and sitting out has helped him in terms of not wanting to sit out again."

Dating back to last season, McGrath has 24 goals and 33 assists for 57 points in 77 games - solid numbers for any prospect, and closer to what was expected from a guy who scored 114 points in his final year of junior.

The 6-foot, 195-pound center has played on a line with two players on minor-league contracts, Francis Pare and Francis Lemieux, and the trio has developed good chemistry. That's helped McGrath's resurgence, but the biggest difference has been learning what to do when he doesn't have the puck.

"He's doing all the little things, all the things he didn't do before in terms of his own end, being responsible defensively, and getting into the corners first to get pucks," McNamara said. "His all-around game has been very good."

If nothing else, McGrath has easily earned himself another contract with the Red Wings, something that seemed unlikely in October. He still has plenty of work to do if he wants to play in the NHL, including developing a quicker first step. But McGrath is within striking distance once again.

"It remains to be seen (if he'll play in the NHL), but he's certainly opened some eyes," McNamara said. "It's up to Evan and how hard he works."

* Grand Rapids is 31-13-11, fourth in the AHL.

* Forwards Darren Helm and Ville Leino are getting an extended look in Detroit, and things are going well. Permanent graduation isn't far off.

Leino has three goals and two assists in eight games, while the energetic Helm has been his usual self with an assist in 10 games.

"I don't call them Grand Rapids kids," Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock told the Detroit Free Press. "They look like Red Wings to me."

Babcock added that "both those guys made the team in training camp."

* Top defensive prospects Jonathan Ericsson and Brendan Smith remain on the sidelines indefinitely with nasty wrist injuries.

* Forward Jesper Samuelsson (Sundsvall, Swedish Allsvenskan) had four assists in three games, his productive week of the season. The 20-year-old struggled in the Swedish Elite League, with three points in 39 games with Timra, so a step back to a lower level appears to be a better fit at this stage.

* Forward Stephen Johnston (Belleville, Ontario Hockey League) hasn't recorded a point in six games and has just a goal and assist in 12 games. He has come a long way this season, but more production is expected.


Nice to see. He was always supposed to have fantastic offensive skills.

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 23, 2009 10:18 am 
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The next Lilja!

http://www.redwingscentral.com/stories/ ... Report.php

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When it comes to Detroit Red Wings prospects, many fans want to know who will be the next Henrik Zetterberg or Pavel Datsyuk.

The next Andreas Lilja? That's not likely to create a buzz in Hockeytown, but the Red Wings are quietly hoping to groom exactly that in Belarusian blueliner Sergei Kolosov, a rookie with the Grand Rapids Griffins.

"He's really opened our eyes," said Griffins general manager Bob McNamara. "He's a really, really steady player who just makes the simple play, always seems to make the correct play, and doesn't get himself into problems. There's not a lot of flash to him. His game is a lot like Andreas Lilja's."

At this time last year, the Red Wings weren't even sure if there was any point in signing the 6-foot-4, 210-pounder. Kolosov was drafted 151st overall in 2004, then spent two seasons in the United States Hockey League with Cedar Rapids and two more in the top professional league in Belarus.

He hadn't done much to separate himself until the IIHF world hockey championship in Quebec City last May. That's when soon-to-be Griffins head coach Curt Fraser stepped behind the Belarusian bench and handed Kolosov 15 minutes a night. Fraser was impressed with Kolosov's play against top NHL forwards, and a month later, Kolosov signed a two-year contract with the Red Wings.

The 22-year-old gained a reputation as a mean-spirited hit machine at lower levels, making highlight reels at the 2005 world junior with a punishing hit on future NHLer Dan Fritsche. But at higher levels, he's adjusted his game, fitting into the Lilja-mold by getting in the way more than laying big hits.

He has four goals and six assists and is a plus-1 in 51 games and has played well paired with fellow rookie Logan Pyett. For a player with a reputation for being unpolished, Kolosov isn't making many mistakes.

"He's been fine with the puck and he keeps it simple," McNamara said. "He plays within himself. He doesn't try to do anything crazy like beat three guys at once. He's just a steady, steady player and he's really surprised us."

* Defenseman Brendan Smith (Wisconsin, NCAA) returned from a wrist injury on the weekend. He had been out since Jan. 3.

* Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock has already said Darren Helm will be in the lineup in the NHL playoffs, just as he was last year. Babcock also hinted that Ville Leino has a playoff spot within his grasp, too. Both forwards have excelled after being called up from Grand Rapids late last month.

* With Helm and Leino likely to stay in the NHL, forwards such as Evan McGrath, Mattias Ritola, Justin Abdelkader and Cory Emmerton will be given added responsibilities in Grand Rapids during the stretch run, and that's a good thing. All four are having excellent seasons already.

* Goalie Jimmy Howard (Grand Rapids, AHL) earned a one-game NHL call-up and turned aside 24 of 28 shots in a loss to Minnesota. He was subsequently returned to Grand Rapids. He has appeared in nine career NHL games.

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 10, 2009 12:24 pm 
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Pare in the right place at the right time.

http://www.redwingscentral.com/stories/ ... Report.php

Quote:
It's not often Red Wings Central devotes its weekly update to a prospect not signed by Detroit, but Francis Pare is a special case.

The 21-year-old forward is having an outstanding American Hockey League rookie season with the Grand Rapids Griffins, with 19 goals and 18 assists for 37 points in 45 games. He attended training camp with the Red Wings in the fall but is signed to a minor-league contract with the Griffins.

The Red Wings are keeping a watchful eye on Pare, a skilled 5-foot-10, 185-pounder who fits their puck-possession system to a T.

"He's such a smart player ... The puck follows him around," said Griffins general manager Bob McNamara. "He's got great hands, he always knocks it out of the air, and he's in the right place at the right time — all the time."

Pare recorded 298 points during a four-year career in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League but was never drafted. Size and skating worked against him, but as a 20-year-old, he exploded for 54 goals in a 102-point campaign with Chicoutimi and was named QMJHL most valuable player.

His smooth transition to the AHL is opening some eyes, and he could be one to watch if he picks up a quicker step in his skating stride.

The Red Wings have a history of signing free agents who impress them. They inked Brent Raedeke and Brian Lashoff out of training camp, and last season, they were so impressed with Jamie Tardif's play on a minor-league contract with the Griffins, they locked him up with a two-year NHL deal.

* Defenseman Jonathan Ericsson (Grand Rapids, AHL) returned from a wrist injury on Friday and has played three games, recording an assist in a 5-4 win over Toronto. Ericsson has missed 22 games to injury and told the Grand Rapids Press, "You want to go out there and help the team any way you can, so it's really tough just sitting and watching. I've done that way too much this year."

* Forward Justin Abdelkader (Grand Rapids, AHL) has been dynamite lately, with six goals and 11 assists for 17 points in his past 14 games.

* Forward Cory Emmerton (Grand Rapids, AHL) has scored four times in his past six games. He had just three goals in his first 49 contests. Overall, he's made a smooth adjustment and posted 30 points in a solid rookie campaign.

* Forward Stephen Johnston (Belleville, Ontario Hockey League) has just one point in his past 12 games and three points in his last 18.

* Goaltender Thomas McCollum (Brampton, OHL) continues his sensational season. He leads the OHL in goals-against average (2.09) and shutouts (seven) and is second with a .929 save percentage in 49 starts.

* Forward Zack Torquato (Erie, OHL) has 10 goals and 11 assists for 21 points in his past 17 games and is doing what he can to earn a contract. Conversely, forward Randy Cameron (Moncton, Quebec Major Junior Hockey League) has been out with an injury at a key point in his contract year.

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 10, 2009 12:25 pm 
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Crunch time for contracts

http://www.redwingscentral.com/stories/ ... Report.php

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When it comes contracts, consider Joakim Andersson all but a done deal, Zack Torquato a good bet, and Randy Cameron a coin toss.

The Detroit Red Wings must sign the 2007 draft picks by June 1 or allow them to re-enter this year’s draft. As the 2008-09 season winds down, the Red Wings are making their final judgments before getting deals done.

Andersson is a lock. The 6-foot-2, 198-pound center was considered by some publications as a first-round prospect before the 2007 draft, but the Wings grabbed him in the third round (88th overall). He’s a two-way prospect of similar potential to Justin Abdelkader, but with more European flair.

The 20-year-old skates with Frolunda in the Swedish Elite League and was a stalwart for his country at the world junior championship.

Torquato, who captains the Ontario Hockey League’s Erie Otters, never truly exploded offensively in the junior ranks. In fact, he has yet to match his draft-year numbers of 69 points in 65 games. But he’s played well late this season, and was signed to a seven-game AHL tryout in 2007-08.

The Red Wings like his smarts and offensive touch and realize the struggling Otters have contributed to Torquato’s ordinary numbers.

Cameron skates for one of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s top teams, the Moncton Wildcats. While a solid two-way player in the Q, he has produced only 13 points in 20 games in the new year. He’s not big or physical, and without more production, his odds of a contract diminish.

The Wildcats are expected to enjoy a lengthy playoff run, so the 5-foot-11, 187-pounder will have time to show what he can do.

It’s certainly never too late to make an impact. Last season, the Red Wings were planning to let Belarusian defenceman Sergei Kolosov walk. Then he earned a spot on his country’s entry at the IIHF world championship in May, and, just a month before the signing deadline, won the Red Wings over.

This is a small signing class in relative terms. The Red Wings inked seven players last season — Kolosov, Abdelkader, Cory Emmerton, Daniel Larsson, Logan Pyett, Jan Mursak and Dick Axelsson. And they would have had to lock up Shawn Matthias had they not traded him for Todd Bertuzzi.

Here are some notes from the past week.

* Defenseman Jakub Kindl (Grand Rapids, AHL) has suddenly gone quiet after a scoring hot start, producing just four assists in his past 20 games and without a goal since Dec. 20. Kindl had 27 points in his first 44 games.

* Goaltender Thomas McCollum (Brampton, OHL) was named the Canadian Hockey League’s goaltender of the week on Wednesday. It’s the second time this year he’s received the award, also taking it on Jan. 25.

* Defenseman Bryan Rufenach (Clarkson, NCAA) is putting together an impressive sophomore campaign. The 5-foot-11, 189-pounder has nine goals and 10 assists for 19 points in 34 games, fifth in the East Coast Athletic Conference. Rufenach is also a minus-13 and needs to shore up his defensive game.

* The Red Wings shipped forwards Ville Leino and Darren Helm back to Grand Rapids this week. Leino had a terrific 13-game stint, scoring five goals and four assists in 13 games. Helm has one assist in 16 games.

* The Red Wings called up blue-liner Jonathan Ericsson from the AHL. Ericsson, who turned 25 last week, has an assist in three games.

The following is an up-to-date statistical report for skaters. Playoff statistics appear in red in the line following his regular-season stats.

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 11, 2009 10:12 pm 
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Wings goaltending prospect and '08 first rounder Thomas McCollum broke the OHL's career shutout record with 16 so far.

http://lfpress.ca/newsstand/Sports/Hock ... 1-sun.html

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 25, 2009 2:13 pm 
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Holland says that the kids are good:

http://www.freep.com/article/20090325/S ... a++Franzen

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And regardless of what happens with the team's potential unrestricted and restricted free agents, there's help on the way from the minors. Defenseman Jonathan Ericsson will be a regular next season, and there'll be competition in net from Jimmy Howard and possibly also Daniel Larsson.

"Jimmy Howard's an NHL goaltender," Holland said. "I've had a couple of teams call me on him; I don't have any plans to trade him. The plan is to get him into a Detroit Red Wing uniform and get him into the net next year. And the other goalie is just as good, Daniel Larsson, we like him a lot."

Darren Helm, Ville Leino and Justin Abdelkader are ready to replenish up front, just as others have done before them when a star has left the Wings.

"We've got some kids coming that we think are ready to play in the NHL next year in a support role," Holland said. "They're not ready for prime time, but they're ready to step in and be in a support role. It's much like how we let Robert Lang go and Brendan Shanahan left and you know what, you wake up two years later and Dan Cleary's gotten an opportunity and Mikael Samuelsson had an opportunity and Johan Franzen had an opportunity and with the opportunity, their careers took a step forward."


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 14, 2009 10:39 am 
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McCollum not likely to head back to Junior next season:

http://www.redwingscentral.com/stories/ ... Report.php

Quote:
This is very likely Thomas McCollum's major junior swan song.

The 19-year-old goaltender has continued his outstanding Ontario Hockey League campaign in the playoffs, backstopping the Brampton Battalion to this week's best-of-seven semifinals against the Belleville Bulls.

McCollum, drafted 30th overall last summer, has one more season of OHL eligibility left. But because of his late birthdate, he is also eligible to play in the American Hockey League — and that's where he is expected to be assigned.

"I think it's time for him to move on," said Red Wings director of scouting Joe McDonnell, who oversees the Ontario region. "Of course, it's how he (performs) at camp and things like how he's adjusting to the pro life, but we definitely have a plan for him to be in the American League next year."

The 6-foot-2, 205-pound McCollum had among the OHL's best stats this season with the Guelph Storm and the Battalion. He was first with seven shutouts and second in both goals-against average (2.11) and save percentage (.927).

The only blemish was his underwhelming performance at the world junior. He posted a .860 save percentage in five starts and was the scapegoat in Team USA's quarterfinal upset loss to Slovakia. But he has responded well.

"I don't know if people are laying blame on him but it certainly wasn't his fault (at the world junior)," McDonnell said. "It was a total team thing and since he's come back, he's been outstanding in Brampton. We hope he has a real good run."

If Jimmy Howard graduates to Detroit next fall, McCollum should be able to get plenty of starts with the AHL's Grand Rapids Griffins.

"He's come a long way in a short period of time, from walking on in Guelph and not being drafted (into the OHL) to being a first-rounder (in the NHL draft)," McDonnell said. "He's a big guy, he moves well, he's coachable, he works great with (goalie coach) Jim Bedard. The sky's the limit for him."

* Forward Francis Pare (Grand Rapids, AHL) finally signed with the Red Wings this week. It was really only a matter of time after the former Quebec Major Junior Hockey League MVP proved his worth on an AHL tryout contract.

* The Red Wings also signed Jordan Pearce to a two-year contract this week. The Notre Dame goaltender was a candidate for Central Collegiate Hockey Association player of the year after going 30-6-3 with a sensational 1.68 goals-against average, a .931 save percentage and eight shutouts.

It's not clear how this will play out next season. With McCollum expected to fight for time with Swede Daniel Larsson in Grand Rapids, Pearce would appear to be the odd man out. Larsson, by the way, has been out with "soreness" recently, and Pearce has filled in as Howard's backup on an amateur tryout deal.

Red Wings Central will have more on the Pearce signing in the next week.

* The Griffins finished the season with a 43-25-6-6 record and 98 points. They face the Hamilton Bulldogs in the first round of the playoffs.

* Forward Joakim Andersson signed an AHL tryout contract with Grand Rapids and recorded an assist in his debut. The Red Wings are expected to sign Andersson to a three-year entry-level deal in the coming months, but it's highly probably he will return to Frolunda of the Swedish Elite League next fall.

* Forward Darren Helm was called up to the Red Wings, as expected. He'll stay with the big club for the duration of their post-season run.

* Forward Dick Axelsson (Farjestad, Swedish Elite League) returned from a hand injury for the final two games of the Swedish playoffs and was part of a championship win over HV-71. He didn't have a point in either game.

* Defenseman Sebastien Piche (Rimouski, QMJHL) has advanced to the QMJHL semifinals. His Oceanic dumped Randy Cameron's Moncton Wildcats in the quarterfinals with a 4-1 series victory. Piche has six points in nine games; Cameron, a forward who is vying for a contract, had eight points in 10 games.

* Forward Johan Ryno (AIK, Swedish Allsvenskan) finished the season with two goals and four assists in his final two games. But he needs to play in the Swedish Elite League or come to the AHL next fall to stay on the Wings' radar.

* Defenseman Brian Lashoff (Grand Rapids, AHL) has been used as a forward at times during his AHL tryout stint with the Griffins.

* Forward Evan McGrath (Grand Rapids, AHL) has been out with a shoulder injury.

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PostPosted: Mon May 11, 2009 10:43 am 
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Griffins season a success

The Grand Rapids Griffins’ 2008-09 season can only be categorized as a success.

Sure, the Griffins lost in four straight to the Manitoba Moose this week in the second round of the American Hockey League playoffs, but it was a meaningful year on the farm for a relatively young group of Griffins.

The Griffins essentially churned out four NHL-ready players in Jonathan Ericsson, Darren Helm, Ville Leino and Justin Abdelkader. You can probably add the name of goaltender Jimmy Howard to that group, too, and it's possible all five will be on the Detroit Red Wings' opening-day roster next fall.

Not only that, but forward Evan McGrath, defenseman Jakub Kindl and goalie Daniel Larsson made fantastic strides. Throw forwards Cory Emmerton and Francis Pare and defensemen Brian Lashoff and Sergei Kolosov into the mix, and there were no shortage of bright spots in Grand Rapids.

Although the second-round setback was a sweep, it wasn’t as bad as it sounds. Three of the games were one-goal contests (2-1, 2-1 and 3-2) and the other was a one-goal game until the Moose scored an empty-netter (3-1). If Helm and Ericsson weren’t playing critical roles with the Red Wings in the NHL playoffs, the series might have played out differently for the Griffins.

* Leino had 13 points in 10 playoff games and Abdelkader had six goals in 10 games. Neither had a point against Manitoba, but Leino was still leading the AHL playoffs in scoring after his final game.

* McGrath didn’t play in the post-season with a shoulder injury. Lashoff’s remarkable run with the Griffins ended on the sidelines with a concussion. Mattias Ritola reportedly ended up out as a healthy scratch down the stretch, a disappointing development after a terrific start to the season.

* The Red Wings have called up five prospects among their seven Black Aces: Abdelkader, Leino, Kindl, Howard and Kolosov. Kolosov’s name jumps out slightly, but he had a solid year and is developing nicely in the Andreas Lilja-mold after the Red Wings almost let him go last season.

Abdelkader stepped right in for Sunday's Game 5 against the Anaheim Ducks in the wake of Tomas Kopecky's injury and was credited with an assist and a whopping nine hits in 6:32 of ice time. That's a sign of things to come.

* Goaltender Thomas McCollum (Brampton, Ontario Hockey League) saw his team fall short of an OHL title this week, losing 4-1 to the Windsor Spitfires in the best-of-seven final. But McCollum made 32 saves to help Brampton earn a surprising 4-2 win in Game 3 and made 34 stops in an overtime loss in Game 5. The talented first-round draft pick will likely play in the AHL next season.

* The season has ended for everybody in the Red Wings’ system except for Rimouski Oceanic defenseman Sebastien Piche and those on the NHL roster. Red Wings Central will publish at least one more RWC Report after the Memorial Cup and/or after the NHL playoffs come to a close.

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 02, 2009 12:53 pm 
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Torquato and Cameron not offered contracts and can re-enter the draft:

http://www.redwingscentral.com/stories/ ... ameron.php

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 29, 2009 10:42 am 
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Final report from rwc:

http://www.redwingscentral.com/stories/ ... Report.php

Quote:
RWC REPORT: Ericsson, Helm are silver lining
By Matthew Wuest - RedWingsCentral.com / June 15, 2009

Although the Detroit Red Wings will feel the sting of losing in the Stanley Cup Final for months to come, perhaps they can find some comfort from the not-so-quiet emergence of youngsters Jonathan Ericsson and Darren Helm.

Ericsson and Helm, ranked Nos. 1 and 2 on Red Wings Central's prospect ranking, stepped into the lineup in the post-season and showed why they will be NHL regulars in 2009-10 — and probably could have nine months ago.

Ericsson logged more than 18 minutes per game, filling in admirably as a top-four defenseman when Nicklas Lidstrom and Brian Rafalski were injured, and had four goals, four assists and a plus-8 rating in 22 outings. The 6-foot-5, 218-pounder even missed a game in the middle to have an appendectomy.

Helm played more than 12 minutes a game, won 51.5 per cent of his faceoffs, and had four goals and an assist in 23 games. More importantly, the 5-foot-11 forward led the playoffs with a whopping 118 hits in 23 games. Pro-rated over 82 games, that's 420 hits. No player had more than 356 hits last season.

Both still have work to do. Ericsson needs have his best games more consistently and Helm could stand to simplify his offensive game. But both will be key players as the Red Wings attempt to erase this year's disappointment.

Ericsson and Helm will not be included on RWC's end-of-season prospect ranking, as both are deemed full-time graduates to the Red Wings. Justin Abdelkader and Ville Leino will remain prospects until they do the same.

* The only other prospect who has been active since the last RWC Report was Sebastien Piche. The Rimouski Oceanic defenseman participated in the Memorial Cup and played well, recording a goal and two assists in four games. But the host Oceanic struggled and were unable to qualify for the playoff round.

This will be the last RWC Report until September or October. The annual end-of-season prospect ranking will be available shortly.

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 29, 2009 10:44 am 
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RWC's final rankings for the season:

http://www.redwingscentral.com/stories/ ... Update.php

Quote:
Abdelkader grabs vacated top spot
By Matthew Wuest - RedWingsCentral.com / June 17, 2009

Detroit Red Wings fans got flashes of the future in Justin Abdelkader’s brief appearance in the NHL playoffs this spring.

The 6-foot-1, 209-pound multi-purpose forward burst onto the scene in his playoff debut, introducing himself to Hockeytown with an assist and 10 hits in his first game. He went on to score pivotal goals in Games 1 and 2 of the Stanley Cup Final that gave the Red Wings with an unexpected lift.

Abdelkader’s outstanding rookie pro season — which included 24 goals, 52 points and 102 penalty minutes in the American Hockey League — has catapulted him to the top of Red Wings Central’s end-of-season prospect ranking, thanks to the graduation of Jonathan Ericsson and Darren Helm.

His playoff showing demonstrated exactly what will make him an effective NHLer. He can bang, crash and generate energy; play responsible, shut-down hockey; and chip in with a timely goal or offensive play.

If the Red Wings are looking for a little more edge going into the next few seasons, Abdelkader is a guy who can definitely bring it.

Abdelkader held off fellow rookie forward Ville Leino, who checks in at No. 2. Both will challenge for roster spots in Detroit next season.

Goaltender Thomas McCollum — the surest bet in the system to succeed Chris Osgood — climbed four spots to No. 3, while gifted defensemen Jakub Kindl and Brendan Smith round out the top five.

The following is a rundown.

1. F Justin Abdelkader (+3) — Abdelkader would be an NHLer already on most teams, but another year in the AHL is possible.

2. F Ville Leino (+3) — With better skating, he could fill a Jiri Hudler-type role in Detroit, and he should start next season in the NHL.

3. G Thomas McCollum (+4) — One of the top junior-aged goaltenders in the world, McCollum will take his act to the pros next season.

4. D Jakub Kindl (-1) — The Red Wings got burned by turnovers in the Stanley Cup Final, and the talented Kindl struggles with them, too.

5. D Brendan Smith (+3) — Smith boasts big-time offensive upside and has yet to put it together at Wisconsin, but could be a revelation as a junior.

6. G Jimmy Howard (-) — Howard’s level of play is up, down and all-around but he remains positioned to back up Chris Osgood in 2009-10.

7. F Cory Emmerton (+3) — The Red Wings like smart, responsible hockey players, and Emmerton, who had a good AHL rookie year, fits the bill.

8. F Joakim Andersson (+5) — He could make a similar NHL impact to Abdelkader, although his skating needs work and he isn’t as physical.

9. F Mattias Ritola (-) — Ritola is entering a critical season where needs to set himself apart and make his case to be in the NHL.

10. F Gustav Nyquist (+4) — Nyquist is an outstanding two-way player who did nothing but impress during his freshman NCAA year at Maine.

11. G Daniel Larsson (-) — Larsson is a good goalie who made a smooth adjustment to North America, but he may have to give way to McCollum.

12. F Dick Axelsson (-) — You never know what you’re going to get with Hat Trick Dick, although the pure skill he offers is undeniable.

13. D Brian Lashoff (+9) — It’s starting to look like the Red Wings nabbed a Kyle Quincey-type defenseman from the free agent scrap heap.

14. D Max Nicastro (+2) — The raw pieces are in place for Nicastro to become a high-end prospect, but it’s still untapped upside at this stage.

15. F Jan Mursak (-) — The highly-skilled winger had a rude awakening as a rookie pro, but don’t write him off. He played well down the stretch.

16. D Sergei Kolosov (+4) — He’s moving up on the depth chart, but his Andreas Lilja-style game isn’t going to dazzle anybody.

17. F Francis Pare (NR) — He had a great AHL rookie campaign and the Red Wings were so impressed they signed him as a free agent.

18. F Brent Raedeke (+3) — The Red Wings compare him to Darren Helm, but he needs to continue developing offensively to be that good.

19. F Julien Cayer (-1) — At this stage, he might be best described as a poor-man’s Justin Abdelkader; still raw, but a big, banging forward.

20. D Logan Pyett (-3) — Pyett struggled defensively as an AHL rookie and needs to find a way to overcome that to move back up the charts.

21. D Sebastien Piche (NR) — Piche is an active defenseman who played a complete game in junior, but his real test will come as an AHL rookie.

22. F Evan McGrath (+2) — McGrath saw a bounce-back campaign cut short with a shoulder injury, but expect him to be re-signed.

23. F Stephen Johnston (-4) — He quadrupled his point total but still has a long way to go if he wants to get a contract next season.

24. G Jordan Pearce (NR) — He’s behind three good, young goaltenders in Thomas McCollum, Jimmy Howard and Daniel Larsson.

25. F Johan Ryno (-) — You could argue Ryno is a write-off, but he could still emerge this season if he gets healthy and finds the right fit.

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 29, 2009 10:50 am 
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No stars in that group, but that doesn't mean Detroit won't turn one or two of them into stars.

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 29, 2009 11:01 am 
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saskhab wrote:
No stars in that group, but that doesn't mean Detroit won't turn one or two of them into stars.


That's always Detroit's system's weaknesses. "No star power, lacking size". Yup. Look at where they draft. The stars and the guys with both size and skill are always gone by their draft position.

Detroit's philosophy on drafting and their development system gives them a chance of turning them into stars:

http://www.redwingscentral.com/redwings ... 9777745087

Quote:
It played out as well as it could have. We wound up with three guys that we really liked (Ferraro, Tatar, Nestrasil). That's why we moved down."

"The skill level is high (for those top three forwards). You hope one of them becomes better than you thought. That skill level gives them a chance to develop into something better."

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 10, 2018 10:23 am 
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Man, forgot all about Hat Trick Dick.

http://www.hockeydb.com/ihdb/stats/pdis ... ?pid=95357

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