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.
|Rob Collins +||2002||NYI||8||1||1||2|
|Doug Doull||1998||BOS, WSH||37||0||1||1|
|Raitis Ivanans||2001||MON, LA, CGY||281||12||6||18|
|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.