Trickle Down Effect: Wings Roster Crunch Will Impact Griffins
If Patrick Eaves clears waivers Friday, he will likely be the third NHL forward sent down to Grand Rapids. Jordin Tootoo cleared waivers last week but was only sent down today, while Cory Emmerton was an early casualty of the Wings roster crunch. The moves, while necessary to get Detroit under the salary cap and roster limits, could have a direct impact on the playing time and development of their prospects.
The Red Wings log jam of forwards is a direct result of not moving players over the summer after the acquisition of Dan Cleary, Stephen Weiss, and Daniel Alfredsson. Detroit was also hampered by injuries to Mikael Samuelsson, which limited his eligibility to be bought out during the summer.
Now that the roster moves are finally being made and NHL veterans are being demoted to the AHL, several prospects could be shuffled down to the ECHL or have their current playing time impacted. The Griffins, who are tied for second in the AHL Western Conference, have lost just their first game in eight straight. The Wings prospects are a big reason for the early success and a reduction in responsibility could, at the very least, impact their development in the short-term. Outlined below are prospects who have the greatest chance of being impacted by the additions of Tootoo and Eaves (if he clears waivers Friday):
- Louis-Marc Aubry – The 6-foot-4, 205 pound forward has been limited to just one game with the Griffins this season so sending him down to Toledo might be the only option to get him additional playing time.
- Gleason Fournier – The undersized defenseman is in the final year of his entry-level contract and desperately needs to show he can take the next step. He’s had a tough time early, playing in just three AHL games so it seems like another stop in Toledo may be on the horizon with the arrival of the extra bodies in Grand Rapids.
- Andrej Nestrasil – The 6-foot-2, 200 pound winger has finally earned an AHL roster spot this season and netted 2 goals and 5 assists in 14 games after spending the bulk of his first few seasons with Toledo. Nestrasil is in the final season of his contract and needs a break through season to earn another contract with Detroit.
- Martin Frk – The 6-foot, 193 pound forward is already in Toledo after struggling through six AHL games. Frk had hoped to turn his game around in the ECHL enough to earn a call-up, but he’ll have to wait for injuries to mount.
- Trevor Parkes – The 6-foot-2, 188 pound grinding forward is leading the Walleye with 6 goals and 11 points in 10 games. Parkes, who is also in the last year of his contract, needs to show he can play consistently in the AHL.
- Mitch Callahan – the 6-foot, 190 pound forward is producing consistently with 5 goals and 9 points in 14 AHL games this season, but he now may have to compete with Tootoo and Eaves if both are in Grand Rapids. Callahan needs to have a big year to prove he is ready for the next step.
The additions of Eaves and Tootoo will have the greatest impact on AHL veterans such as Tristan Grant, Jeff Hoggan, Nathan Paetsch and Brennan Evans because of the veteran player limit which allows AHL teams to dress only five veterans per game. With the Griffins making a strong push toward defending their Calder Cup, the Red Wings management will need to monitor the veteran situation closely to mitigate the long term impacts on prospect development.