The Detroit Red Wings have 10 prospects playing in the AHL with the Grand Rapids Griffins. Of the 10 prospects, one is a goaltender (currently recalled to Detroit), five are forwards and four are defensemen.
Jakub Kindl, D
Height: 6’3; Weight: 202 lbs
Acquired: First round, 19th overall, 2005
It has been an up and down year for Kindl. He has only logged three goals and 10 assists in 53 games and owns the Griffins worst plus/minus rating at -26.
Kindl was the OHL Kitchener Rangers’ highest scoring defenseman with 10 goals and 44 assists last year and the OHL’s eighth highest scoring defenseman. Kindl also played well in the defensive zone which helped him earn honors as runner-up to the OHL’s outstanding defenseman in 2006-07.
As a rookie pro, Kindl needs to shoot the puck more and play with a higher level of concentration in the Griffins defensive zone. The 20-year-old is too good a player to not recover from his slow start.
Height: 6’5; Weight: 218 lbs
Acquired: 7th round, 291st overall, 2002
Ericsson is the fastest rising prospect in the Red Wings organization. He is the top scoring defensive prospect for the Griffins with seven goals and 18 assists for 24 points in 54 games.
Ericsson participated in the hardest shot contest at the AHL All-Star Classic registering a 100.1 mph rocket. This was second to Rochester Americans Mark Mancari who broke the All-Star record with a 102.9 mph blast. Ericsson and Mancari were the only two participants to break the 100 mph mark in the contest.
The Red Wings have said recently in relation to the trade deadline that Ericsson is not available for trade. After this year, it is easy to see why. Ericsson is currently on his first call-up to the Red Wings and has no points in two games.
Kyle Quincey, D
Height: 6’2; Weight: 215 lbs
Acquired: Fifth round, 132nd overall, 2003
Last season during the playoffs, Quincey played solidly in a total of 13 games for the Red Wings. Quincey was hoping to build on that going into training camp, however, he broke his left hand and the opportunity to earn a roster spot on the Red Wings to start this season was gone.
Quincey is getting another chance to show off his solid, physical style of play as he has been called up by the Red Wings to replace Brian Rafalski, who is nursing a groin injury. It is highly likely that Quincey will be sent down once Rafalski returns, and then join the team again during the NHL playoffs.
This year with the Griffins, Quincey has tallied two goals, and eight assists for 10 points, along with a -5 in 45 games. Quincey has been a solid contributor for the club, and they are missing him during their quest for a playoff spot.
Darren Helm, C
Height: 6’0; Weight: 182 lbs
Acquired: Fifth round, 132nd overall, 2005
The Griffins have a real sparkplug in Helm. Helm plays on the second line and uses his incredible speed, determination and grit to kill penalties. Helm works hard to battle for the puck and rarely comes up empty.
Helm had a rough start to the year, missing most of training camp, all of the exhibition season and the first nine games of the AHL season due to a separated shoulder.
The AHL rookie has produced six goals and 10 assists in 52 games this season and is -12. As time goes on, Helm’s offensive output is expected to increase, turning him into a solid two-way forward. Helm has been one of the few bright spots for the underachieving Griffins this year.
Evan McGrath, C
Height: 6’0; Weight: 195 lbs
Acquired: Fourth round, 128th overall, 2004
McGrath did not enjoy a successful rookie year with the Griffins last year. He only tallied 14 points and endured prolonged scoring slumps. McGrath was a major scorer in the OHL for the Kitchener Rangers, so the difference in production between the two leagues was dramatic.
The knock on McGrath was that he needed to work on the defensive part of his game. He needed to use his great skating skills and vision to help the Griffins on both sides of the ice. McGrath needed to get bigger and stronger so that he could win more battles for the puck in his zone. The 22-year-old’s defensive play has improved, as he looks more confident and stronger defending the Griffins zone.
McGrath has eight goals and 11 assists for 19 points in 52 games for the Griffins this season and is -3, rather good for the situation. He will likely need to make it as a checker, so he’s making fine progress.
Height: 6’0; Weight: 198 lbs
Acquired: Fourth round, 103rd overall, 2005
When Ritola came to the Griffins from Sweden to start this season, he brought with him a lot of skill that the Griffins desperately needed. Ritola was expected to skate on the top two lines and be strong in the defensive zone. While Ritola has skated on the top two lines throughout the year, the offensive statistics have not been what the Grifffins had hoped.
In 53 games this year, Ritola has four goals and 12 assists for 16 points. However, his plus/minus of +10 is tied for the club lead. This has demonstrated that his defensive style of play has remained consistent through the year. Ritola grinds in both ends of the rink which shows his great work ethic.
The soon to be 21-year-old Ritola will likely improve his offense next year and become one of the Griffins best two-way players.
Height: 6’3; Weight: 200 lbs
Acquired: Signed as a Free Agent in July 2007
Drafted: Seventh round, 208th overall, 2003 by Phoenix
The Griffins knew what kind of player they were getting in Gelech when he joined them to start this season. He was to be a hard-nosed, in-your-face, pesky style of player that made few friends on the ice.
Gelech’s tenacity has been well demonstrated this season. Gelech has finished his checks, ground it out in both the offensive and defensive zone and chipped in with five goals and five assists for 10 points in 48 games.
Ryan Oulahen, C
Height: 6’0; Weight: 190 lbs
Acquired: Sixth round, 164th overall, 2003
Oulahen has played some pretty good defensive hockey for the Griffins. His quick feet and acceleration have aided the Griffins during the penalty kills. In 57 games this season, Oulahen has nine goals and nine assists for 18 points. One of those goals was a short-handed marker.
Oulahen has shown that he is a durable player as he is only one of three Griffins to play in every game this season.
Jimmy Howard, G
Height: 6’1; Weight: 208 lbs
Acquired: Second round, 64th overall, 2003
The Red Wings goaltender of the future is showing that he is a true leader and a workhorse. After completing a stretch of three games in three days with the AHL Grand Rapid Griffins, Howard was recalled by the Red Wings on Monday, February 11th to back up Chris Osgood, as Dominik Hasek nursed an inflamed hip. Meanwhile, the Griffins are currently fighting to make the AHL playoffs and desperately need Howard to help them get to the postseason.
This year with the Griffins, Howard has posted 17 wins, 19 losses, 2.61 goals-against average and a .914 save percentage. December was his best month, where he was voted AHL goaltender of the month. Howard represented Planet USA admirably at the AHL All-Star Classic as well, stopping 11 of 14 shots in the third period.
Howard can look forward to more permanent time with the Red Wings as soon as this fall.
Height: 6’1; Weight: 180 lbs
Acquired: Sixth round, 162nd overall, 2002
After fighting for playing time and battling injuries while playing only 64 games over the past three years, Koopmans contemplated retirement. He signed a one-year contract with the Red Wings this past summer as he tried to get back on his game and rid himself of the injury bug.
As it stands, Koopmans has been out all season as he is recovering from hernia surgery. Koopmans could be back practicing with the Griffins shortly, however.