Free Agent Getaways

In addition to finding the late round draft gems, the Red Wings have been able to find potential talent through the undrafted free agent tryout process [see this year’s group of invited tryouts here]. Notable players who tried out for the Red Wings after slipping through the draft include: Sean Avery, Jason Williams, Joey MacDonald, and Stacy Roest among others. The Wings have also stocked their minor league system with undrafted free agent players and the current group includes the likes of: Brent Raedeke, Brian Lashoff, Trevor Parkes, Travis Ehrhardt, Willie Coetzee, and Francis Pare.

While the Wings are usually good at spotting NHL talent, in some cases they have passed on players who have gone on to play in the NHL. Most notable among this group are Chad LaRose (pictured) and Joel Ward. The duo was able to rebound from being cut by Detroit twice and eventually land with other NHL teams. Each player has proven to be NHL talent despite never being drafted and also being passed over by the Wings.

Chad LaRose nearly earned a contract in 2001, but the Red wings had concerns about his size and odd skating style. After a successful second season with Plymouth of the OHL, the Wings invited the Fraser, MI product back for one more try. Detroit eventually cut LaRose, but wanted to send him to Finland to work on his skating. He turned the offer down and opted to play his overage year in the OHL in the hopes that he would earn an NHL contract. Larose would eventually ink that entry level deal, but it was with the Carolina Hurricanes instead of the Red Wings. The Stanley Cup winning forward still plays for the Canes and signed a lucrative off season deal that should keep him in Raleigh for the rest of his career.

Joel Ward took a longer road to the NHL playing four season with the University of Prince Edward Island of the CIS. He tried out for the Red Wings twice but never earned a contract. In 2003 he tried out for the Minnesota Wild and returned to Traverse City to participate in the prospect tournament for a third time. The Wild eventually signed him, but he would only play 11NHL games before becoming a free agent. Ward signed with Nashville and he seemed to find a home for his strong defensive game. The 6-foot-1, 218 pound forward became an integral part of the Predator’s “defense first” style of play. The hard working Ward became a free agent this off season and signed a lucrative deal with the Washington Capitals after fielding offers from several teams.

Below is a complete list of Detroit’s free agent tryouts who went on to play NHL games with other teams. This list does not include players who played for the Red Wings first or those who signed before training camp like Matt Ellis or Darryl Bootland.

Player Tryout Year
NHL Team(s) Games
Rob Collins + 2002 NYI 8 1 1 2
Doug Doull 1998 BOS, WSH 37 0 1 1
Carsen Germyn 2003 CGY 4 0 0 0
Raitis Ivanans 2001 MON, LA, CGY 281 12 6 18
Greg Jacina 2002 FLA 14 0 1 1
Scott Jackson 2007 TMP 1 0 0 0
Ryan Keller 2005 OTT 6 0 0 0
Chad LaRose 2001, 2002 CAR 406 64 80 144
Brian McGratton 2002 OTT, PHO, CGY 182 3 11 14
Bryan Rodney 2003, 2004 CAR 33 1 12 13
Brandon Segal * 2001 TMP, LA, DAL 92 11 11 22
Joel Ward 2001, 2002 MIN, NSH 241 40 59 99

+ Collins was under contract with the Grand Rapids Griffins but played in the prospect tournament as a tryout

* Segal had one more year of draft eligibility when he attended camp in 2001. He was drafted the following year by the Predators.

5 Responses to “Free Agent Getaways”

  1. Michael Petrella said:

    Aug 22, 11 at 2:14 am

    Love this list. I’m a huge Joel Ward fan and had my fingers crossed he’d (somehow) find his way back to Motown this summer. I also loved Nate Robinson (who did play for the Wings in 03-04 before slipping through the cracks to Boston — I was able to catch his first game at the Joe) and the quickness he showed in short bursts. I thought there was some potential there, and I’m sad to see that he wasn’t able to find gainful employment this side of the pond.

    I played with Chad Larose growing up and I couldn’t be happier for him. One of those “keep plugging and don’t listen to the detractors” stories. Like Ward. And Robinson. And everyone else who’s under 5-10. =)

    Keep up the great work.

  2. Sarah Lindenau said:

    Aug 22, 11 at 4:01 am

    Thanks for catching Robinson…. Not sure what I was looking at! He’s been removed. Thanks for the kind words of course as well!

  3. Vanya Tucherov said:

    Aug 22, 11 at 10:09 pm

    Of those on the list aside from LaRose and Ward, there is a total of 28 NHL goals and 71 points. Putting this in perspective, that’s Franzen’s goal scoring and nine shy of Zetterberg’s point production from just last year.

    Extending that a touch- even those numbers are inflated with the majority coming from Ivanans and Segal- the former clearly not a Red Wings-style player and the latter someone who wasn’t good enough to make the team out of camp who then got taken by another team in his last year of eligibility.

    So, two guys in the last two decades that in retrospect the Wings would love to have back. That looks like a pretty good success ratio- losing one prospect a decade. I think most teams squander that much talent a year- just looking at the cast-offs who have gone on to contribute while wearing the Winged Wheel shows that the organization finds far more diamonds other teams get rid of than overlook their own potential gems.

    Nice work- keep it up!

  4. Sacha Chudayev said:

    Aug 23, 11 at 3:05 pm

    The Wings lost out on Leino, it shall be noted. He played lights out in the 09 Final but wasn’t able to stick. Recently signed to Buffalo, I expect him to pot 20 goals, 60+ points consistently playing alongside Vanek and Ennis.

  5. Craig Breitner said:

    Aug 23, 11 at 10:48 pm

    I would like to know why the Detroit Red Wings almost always does NOT go for anyone with any size, Commodore & Bertuzzi as exceptions?? They have players who weigh 160lbs up to 180lbs. And it shows when they get into the playoffs and get pushed all over the ice! I have to laugh when I saw a roster list of Hudler at 5′!0″ & 182lbs.!!!!! If he is all that then I am 7′ & 300lbs-NOT. I wish Detroit would have left him in Russia. I am tired of watching all the NHL teams Detroit plays throwing Hudler and the other 170lbs minuses around the ice like rag dolls. They can NOT give out a hit nor can they take one yet Detroit keeps them around for what I will never know???? Detroit needs some size with nasty attitudes now! That one european they have is listed at 167lbs.! And he’s no St. Louis!!
    But they keep him around. WHY? Is he that fast or that great a scorer? If he is why is he still at Grand Rapids? Bertuzzi is the only tough guy Detroit has but even he has to be careful now days and he’s getting up there in age. And thanks what I think which is just my opinion.

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