Large mix of players populate Red Wings minor-league affiliates

By Brandon Peleshok
Photo: Mitch Callahan has proved to be an effective checking forward at the AHL level. (Photo courtesy of Holly Gunning/HF)

The Red Wings have 21 players in total playing at the AHL and ECHL level. Three of those players, defender Gleason Fournier, goalie Thomas McCollum and forward Andrej Nestrasil are currently playing for the Toledo Walleye of the ECHL.

AHL

Joakim Andersson, C, 22

The inspired play of Joakim Andersson has been a pleasant surprise for the Griffins this season. Often labelled as a checking line center, he has fit nicely into to second line center spot for the Griffins this year. Playing his whole season beside Gustav Nyquist has only helped his game; tallying 17 points through 31 games. He has done all of this while maintaining the strong defensive play that caught the eye of the Red Wings management in the first play. If he can continue to play at this level, Andersson could very well end up on the third or fourth line in Detroit one day.

Louis-Marc Aubry, C, 20

Playing in his first year of professional level hockey has not been the easiest adjustment for Louis-Marc Aubry. He has struggled offensively, finding himself in and out of the lineup, while putting up just six points through 27 games. While he has shown more of an offensive touch as of late, it is his strong defensive play that has kept him on the roster. Spending time on lines with Mitch Callahan, Trevor Parkes, Willie Coetzee and others, Aubry is going to have to show more consistency in order to cement himself a spot in the starting lineup.

Mitchell Callahan, RW, 20

Much like Aubry, Mitch Callahan has struggled offensively throughout the 2011-12 season as a member of the Griffins. Throughout 25 games with the team he has put up just five points, but it is his strong forecheck and willingness to drops the mitts that have kept him in the lineup rotation. Like many first year players, Callahan's struggles are not anything to go crazy over. He has shown that he can keep up with the speed of the game, which is perhaps key for the type of games Callahan plays.

Willie Coetzee, RW, 21

After a rough 2010-11 campaign, Willie Coetzee stormed out of the gates for the 2011-12 season. He scored a goal in each of his first two games, and lead the team in shots early on, though line juggling and consistency issues have likely lead to Coetzee slowing down since. All things considered, Coetzee hasseven goals in 33 games. If he can find some consistency in his game and cement himself a spot in the Griffins top six, Coetzee could put together a respectable rebound season.

Travis Ehrhardt, D, 22

Playing in just three games for the Griffins due to a shoulder injury, Travis Ehrhardt has not been able to show that he belongs in the Griffins lineup. While showed flashes of strong play during the 2010-11 season, suggesting that he may not just be a bottom pairing defender, his inconsistency found him sitting in the press box at times. Ehrhardt will get his chance to crack the lineup when he returns to the Griffins, sometime in early to mid-January.

Cory Emmerton, C, 23

While still considered a prospect, Cory Emmerton has spent his entire season on the Detroit Red Wings main roster. In his first game of the season, he scored a goal and an assist, showing signs that Detroit made the right call by keeping him with the team. However, though he was able to maintain his solid two-way play, his scoring touch completely disappeared as the season wore on. Emmerton had to sit roughly ten games before jumping back into the line-p due to injuries to Chris Conner, among other players. Since jumping back into the lineup, he has slightly increased his offensive production, and has seven points through 30 games.

Landon Ferraro, C, 20

Landon Ferraro remains a bit of a mystery when it comes to labelling what type of player he is. When the Red Wings drafted him, it was for his goal scoring prowess, coming off a 37 goal 2008-09 campaign. His next two seasons of junior play were a bit underwhelming to say the least, so it was difficult to know what to expect out of him for his first year of professional hockey. While his numbers will not jump out at you, nine points through 28 games, Ferraro has shown himself to be a versatile player. He has shored up his defensive and physical game, turning himself into a multi-dimensional player. If Ferraro can continue to work hard and do all the little things right, there is a good chance the offensive numbers will follow.

Brian Lashoff, D, 21

The 2011-12 campaign is not likely the bounce-back year that Brian Lashoff had envisioned. After ankle and shoulder injuries derailed his rookie season, Lashoff was to be given a new chance to prove himself for the 2011-12 year, hopefully working himself into the top four defensemen. However, he has just five points through 31 games and a team minus-12 rating. At just 21 years old, Lashoff is still going to have time to prove himself in the coming years.

Jan Mursak, RW, 23

Unfortunately for Jan Mursak, the 2011-12 season has not gone the way it should have for him. He suffered a broken ankle in a pre-season game on September 25th, sidelining him for over two months. Before the injury, Mursak was expected to work himself onto Detroit's third a fourth lines. Mursak recently returned to action, managing an assist in five games.

Gustav Nyquist, LW, 22

The biggest story coming out of Grand Rapids this season has been the inspired play of rookie sensation Gustav Nyquist. Leading the Griffins in scoring with nine goals and 21 points for 30 goals in 30 games, he has been all the Red Wings expected and more. Currently, he is playing in Detroit due to injuries to other players, participating in his second call-up of the year. All signs lead to the Red Wings finding another Swedish gem in Nyquist, projecting as an all-around player with top six potential.

Trevor Parkes, RW, 20

Like Aubry and Callahan, Trevor Parkes has had some difficulty adjusting to his first year as a member of the Griffins. Through his first 14 games with the team, he was only able to put up one assist. To shake things up a bit, he was sent down to the ECHL brief stint with Toledo, where Parkes scored four goals in four games. Upon returning to the AHL, Parkes looks more confident than ever and has three points through seven games.

Jordan Pearce, G, 25

After finishing strong at the tail-end of the 2010-11 season, Jordan Pearce had expectations of maintaining that level of play. However, he has struggled this year, playing in 12 games for the Griffins with an unsightly 1-6-1 record. While his 3.42 goals against average, .877 save percentage do not lie squarely on his shoulders, Pearce is going to have to do a better job if he wants to keep his spot as back-up goaltender of the Griffins. While fellow goalie MCCollum is in the ECHL for the time being, he could certainly swap places with Pearce at any time.

Sebastien Piche, D, 23

Much like the 2010-11 season, Sebastien Piche has struggled to find himself in the lineup on a consistent basis. Playing in just 17 games with the Griffins, he has put up just two assists. Unless he is able to find a way to stay in the lineup, Piche could find himself on another stint in the ECHL sooner or later.

Logan Pyett, D, 23

While his offensive numbers are not he would have once hoped for, Logan Pyett's 2011-12 season could prove to be his best one yet. Entering his fourth year as a member of the Griffins, he knows that his time to impress the Red Wings' brass is running out. In 34 games with the team he has one goal and 15 assists. He also is among the leaders on the team in shots, while also spending ample time on the powerplay. Though his offensive game has taken awhile to find, Pyett is showing that he is better than his play in previous years has suggested.

Brent Raedeke, C, 21

It has been a season full of ups and downs for Brent Raedeke. For the majority of his sophomore year, he has seemed a bit lost offensively; having difficulty finding chemistry on a line. Recently, however, Raedeke has found some familiarity with linemates Trevor Parkes and Mitchell Callahan. Even if the offensive production slows down, Raedeke's line provides the strong forecheck and physical presence that he is known for personally.

Brendan Smith, D, 22

Brendan Smith's season started off a bit rocky, being slapped with a five game suspension at the beginning of the season. Since, he has gotten his game back on track, scoring 17 points through 28 with the Griffins. Being paired with AHL veteran Doug Janik has served Smith well, shoring up the defensive side of his game in the process. Perhaps Smith's most impressive games of the 2011-12 season were played during his call-up to the Red Wings. He put up two assists while being paired with Niklas Kronwall, and more importantly looked right home on the team. Moving forward, Smith looks like a sure bet to join the Red Wings in the near future, and eventually earn himself a spot as a top four defenseman.

Tomas Tatar, LW, 21

Tomas Tatar is on pace to match his previous season's totals, scoring 10 goals and 19 assists, for 29 points in 34 games. While he started off the season in a slow manner, his play of late has been inspired. Playing on a line with Pare and Jamie Johnson, Tatar has caught on fire. In spite of his slow start, Tatar is still one of the best offensive tools the Griffins have to offer, and still projects as a top six forward for the Red Wings in the future.

ECHL

Gleason Fournier, D, 20

The 2011-12 season has a been a bit of a rollercoaster ride for Gleason Fournier, being sent back and forth between Grand Rapids and Toledo several times during the year. While he made a few brief pit stops in Grand Rapids, scoring two points in three games, he has spent the majority of his season as a member of the Walleye. In 29 games with the team, Fournier has scored two goals and nine assists for 11 points. With the defense corps a bit crowded in Grand Rapids at the moment, Fournier may have to wait another season to show what kind of impact he can make as a Griffin.

Thomas McCollum, G, 22

Fighting for a spot on Grand Rapids, Thomas McCollum spent the first month of his season as a member of the Toledo Walleye. Playing in 13 games for the team, he has gone 5-6-1 while posting a 2.68 goals against average and .905 save percentage. McCollum recently saw a few call-ups with the Griffins where through nine games he posted a 2.78 goals against average and .909 save percentage.

Andrej Nestrasil, LW, 20

In his first season of professional level hockey, Andrej Nestrasil was forced to begin his season as a member of the Tolledo Wallleye in the ECHL. It was short-lived, though, as he received a call-up to the Griffins in late October. Spending about a month with the team, he played in the third and fourth lines for the most part. While he started off his stint in the AHL with a bang, scoring three points in three games, his pace slowed down and he went scoreless for the remaining nine games he spent with the team. For the season, Nestrasil has three points through 11 AHL games and seven through 16 ECHL games.

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