Red Wings AHL prospects season review

By Josh Collopy

The Grand Rapids Griffins finished 37-32-6-5 on the season, and then went on to lose a first-round, seven-game playoff series to the Manitoba Moose.

The Griffins used 46 players this season due to injuries on both the Red Wings and Griffins. The two teams recently announced that the Griffins will continue to be the RedWings’ primary affiliate for at least the next three seasons.  Below is a look at the individual performances of the Wings prospects.

Derek Meech, D
Drafted 229th overall in 2002
The Winnipeg native enjoyed his most productive AHL season this year registering 29 points on 6 goals in 67 games played. The 5’11 speedy offensive defenseman was also selected to represent Team Canada in the 2007 AHL All-Star Game. Meech lowered his regular season penalty minute total by 45 minutes from 85 in 2005-06 to just 40 in 2006-07. Meech, now 23, tied for the team lead in points by a defenseman (29) with teammate Jonathan Ericsson.  One downfall to Meech’s game is sometimes he gets caught trying to pinch offensively, but he was even on the year, which was about average on the team.

Jonathan Ericsson, D

Drafted 291st overall in 2002
The big Swede tied for the team lead in defensemen scoring during his first season with the Griffins; Ericsson registered 29 points on 5 goals while amassing 102 penalty minutes in 67 games. A key asset to Ericsson’s future in the NHL is his size; the 23-year-old has begun to bulk up some to match his height, currently he is 6’5 and 218lbs. Ericsson has shown he is not afraid to use his size and has shown some offensive ability to match his defensive presence.

Kyle Quincey, D
Drafted 132nd overall in 2003
Quincey is another big defensive prospect at 6’2 and 212lbs. Quincey’s second full season saw his offensive numbers drop off a bit from his rookie season. Quincey tallied 22 points on 4 goals in 65 games; in 2005-06 Quincey registered 7 goals and 33 points. Quincey also saw his plus/minus drop from +15 to -7 between his first and second season. One major asset is that his has continued to show he is willing to use his size in the defensive end. Quincey’s penalty minute total jumped 19 minutes to 126 in 2006-07 in five fewer games played. Due to injuries, Quincey has played in 12 playoff games for the Red Wings this year which is double his regular season total of six games.

Evan McGrath, C

Drafted 128th overall in 2004
After enjoying an extremely successful junior career with the Kitchener Rangers, the Oakville, Ontario native played his first professional season in 2006-07. McGrath did not have a good first AHL season registering only 14 points on 6 goals. After going through a long scoring slump, McGrath was assigned to Toledo of the ECHL, with hopes of lighting it up for a few games. That seems to have been a good strategy as he scored six goals and 15 points in nine games with the Storm. In his junior career, McGrath has shown that he can put the puck in the net, so there is still upside there. 

Jimmy Howard, G
Drafted 54th overall in 2003
A native of Syracuse, New York, Howard completed his second full season with the Griffins. Howard had an even record of 21-21 with a goals against average of 2.70. While Howard’s record was not as impressive as his rookie AHL campaign, his goals against average was only 12 percentage points higher than his 2.58 GAA in 2005-06. Howard played excellent in the seven-game series playoff loss to the Manitoba Moose. Howard was 3-4 with a goals against average of only 1.93. Howard saw action in four games with the Wings in 2005-06 and was recalled for the Red Wings playoff run after the completion of the Griffins season.

Eric Himelfarb, C

Free agent 2004
The 2006-07 season was the third full season Himelfarb has competed in for the Griffins. Himelfarb tallied 15 goals en route to 30 points with a -5 rating in 69 games. This year’s campaign was his second most productive season statistically behind his rookie season in which he compiled 43 points. One downfall appears to be Himelfarb’s defensive presence; he has yet to record a full AHL season with a positive plus/minus rating. In seven playoff games for the Griffins this season Himelfarb was a -7 rating.

Ryan Oulahen, C

Drafted 164th overall in 2003
In his second season with the Griffins, Oulahen made a nice improvement from his rookie numbers. The Newmarket, Ontario native tallied 11 goals and 27 points, which was an eight-point improvement from his rookie campaign. Oulahen, now 22, also tallied two assists in seven playoff games for the Griffins. Oulahen plays a solid defensive-minded game, yet is still able to put the puck into the net when needed.

Jakub Kindl, D
Drafted 19th overall in 2005
Kindl, a native of the Czech Republic, joined the Griffins for their playoff run after finishing an extremely successful junior season with the Kitchener Rangers. Kindl tallied two assists in seven post-season games, while finishing +1. Kindl is a big solid defenseman who is not afraid to lay the body on an opposing player. Kindl anchored the point for Kitchener’s power play during the season, showing he can put the puck in the net from the point.

Jan Mursak, LW
Drafted 182nd overall in 2006
Another postseason call-up for the Griffins, Mursak played all seven Griffins playoff games registering two assists and a +3 rating. The 19-year-old was a rookie with the Saginaw Spirit of the OHL this season, where he showed he has the talent to put up big numbers. Mursak put the puck in the net 27 times on his way to an 80-point season with the Spirit. Mursak is a bit undersized currently at 5’11 and 173lbs, but proved that it wasn’t a disadvantage in the AHL, coupled with his speed.

Cory Emmerton, C

Drafted 41st overall in 2006
After being eliminated from the OHL playoffs, Emmerton was called upon by the Griffins. Emmerton played in only two playoff games with the Griffins and did not register a point. The St. Thomas, Ontario native had a productive season with the Kingston Frontenacs scoring 66 points on 29 goals.

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