On the Bubble: Griffins Face Tough Roster Choices

This year’s edition of the Grand Rapid’s Griffins might just be the deepest in years – at least on paper. The team could field the Red Wings top three prospects in Brendan Smith, Tomas Tatar, and Gustav Nyquist. Additionally the Griffins will be bolstered by AHL veterans that include the likes of Doug Janek, Joey MacDonald, Chris Minard, Jamie Johnson, Chris Conner, Garnet Excelby and Greg Amadio.

Before the season opens, the team will need to reduce it’s roster size from 29 to get down to the 23 player limit. While competition for roster spots and playing time will be intense, the Griffins should have a level of depth in the organization that they haven’t had in recent seasons. While that depth is a nice luxury for the organization, it could push some quality prospects and players off the AHL roster. Below is a list of players who could face an uphill battle earning a spot with the Griffins.

  • Thomas McCollum – He may start with Grand Rapids if Joey MacDonald is injured, but he’s currently the odd man out if MacDonald and Jordan Pearce are both available. McCollum needs a big season to re-establish himself and also have a shot at a new contract with the Red Wings so starting the season in Toledo maybe a good first step.
  • Gleason Fournier (pictured)- With nine defensemen currently on the roster at least two defenders could be cut. Fournier sat out all four games of the NHL Prospect Tournament after recovering from a shoulder injury and he may need to spend at least part of the season in the ECHL. Detroit loves the 6-foot, 184 pound defender’s skating and puck moving ability, but he definitely may not have the physical maturity yet for the AHL grind.
  • Nick Oslund – Invited to the Griffins camp as a free agent tryout, Oslund will have a tough time earning a full time spot in Grand Rapids. With the quantity of available forwards, it appears to be just a matter of time before the Griffins release Oslund.
  • Sebastien Piche – The 6-foot, 194 pound defenseman has spent the bulk of the last two seasons in the ECHL and may find himself back there again this season.
  • Bryan Rufenach – The Red Wings 208th overall pick in the 2005 NHL draft earned an AHL contract with the Griffins. That being said the odds are against Rufenach given the number of undersized offensive defensemen which include Logan Pyett and Gleason Fournier.
  • Chris Minard – The veteran AHL forward seems to have fallen out of favor and could find himself on the trade block after seeing his offensive production drop last season.
  • Andrej Nestrasil – The Prague, Czech Republic native could find himself starting the season in Toledo if he isn’t able to keep up with the pace of AHL play. Nestrasil, who needs to work on his skating, may be best served starting the year in Toledo. The big winger has plenty of potential, but he needs playing time to develop his professional game.
  • Mitch Callahan – The rugged winger will need to adjust to the AHL rapidly or he could find himself starting in the ECHL. Callahan is a hardworking forward who has a limited skill set which may not be quite ready for the AHL.
  • Adam Estoclet - The 6-foot-2, 182 pound forward inked an AHL contract with the Griffins during the NHL prospects tournament. Estoclet is a skilled forward who will provide depth for Grand Rapids, but he could be the odd man out given the number of available forwards to start the season.
  • Louis-Marc Aubry – Detroit thinks very highly of the 6-foot-3, 183 pound forward. That being said, if Aubry isn’t earning ice time in Grand Rapids, the Red Wings can still send him back to junior this season.
  • Trevor Parkes – A gritty forward had a strong prospects tournament and training camp. Despite his solid effort, he could find himself the odd man out if he is outworked and out muscled in the AHL.

3 Responses to “On the Bubble: Griffins Face Tough Roster Choices”

  1. Tom Rady said:

    Oct 05, 11 at 7:07 pm

    Lindy:

    I have made plans to visit both toledo and grand rapids this year, am only an hour from toledo and expect to see Mcollum and four or five wing prospects play in Toledo. I get the feeling is the ECHL is better than junior or college, but a step below the American League which has lots of guys with NHL experence.

  2. Matt Cranmer said:

    Oct 05, 11 at 10:24 pm

    I live in the GR area and can’t wait to see some of the Wings prospects. Nyquist had a great camp, but I’m concerned he will ware out (similar to the way that Tatar, Hudler, and many others have) as the season wears into Feb and March. I think Tatar and Smith should have huge years in GR, but it is Ferraro and Andersson I am most interested in. Andersson has the size and defensive game to be a heck of a role player in the NHL someday, but is the offensive ability there? Ferraro’s JR career fizzled after being drafted, and I am hoping he can resurect it in the AHL. I had high hopes for him after Detroit drafted him, and he has been a major disappointment so far. Hopefully he can get his game and career back on track in GR.

  3. Bob Evenhouse said:

    Oct 07, 11 at 5:00 pm

    Sarah,

    Read your articles all of the time. Love ‘em. Thanks for the effort for us Wings fans. We appreciate all you do to keep us wing nuts sane.

    Looks like these matters are settled. See link below.

    http://www.griffinshockey.com/news/releases/index.html?article_id=1929

    The Wings assigned:
    Tom McCollum – G
    Gleason Fournier – D
    Andrej Nestrasil – F
    The Griffind assigned:
    Bryan Rufenach – D to Toledo
    Nick Oslund – D was released from GR, but Toledo picked him up so he’s still in the family.


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