Jeff Blashill admits he didn’t fully appreciate Mitch Callahan at the start of the season.
“I was wrong about the type of player he is,” the Grand Rapids Griffins first-year head coach said. “He’s a much better player than I gave him credit for at the beginning of the year.”
The gritty 6-foot, 200-pound right-winger came to camp for his American Hockey League sophomore campaign and had to battle — perhaps more than most — to win his new coach’s trust. He eventually earned it, and now receives regular ice time at even strength and on the penalty kill. He has 10 goals and nine assists along with 82 penalty minutes and an average of almost two shots per game in 57 contests.
“Mitch is the type of player you win with,” Blashill said. “He’s very, very strong on the puck, he wins puck battles, he goes to the net hard, he’s got good hands, he’s physical, he’s an agitator and he’ll fight when needed. Those are all assets, that, when you put them all together, that makes you a real good hockey player.”
Callahan, a 2009 sixth-round pick from Whittier, Calif., who played for the 2011 American world junior team, has just four fighting majors this season after recording 62 in four previous seasons according to HockeyFights.com. That might be a sign he’s becoming a more well-rounded player.
“He’s been a real important part of our team,” Blashill said. “He’s just a more effective player than I realized at first. That’s just getting to know your players and maybe just giving him more opportunity … and he took off with it.”
Along with defenseman Mike McKee, Callahan is far and away the grittiest prospect in the Red Wings system, something that could give him a unique advantage in the next two seasons when the Red Wings are looking for call-ups.
NOTES: Defenseman Nick Jensen (St. Cloud State, NCAA) was named WCHA defensive player of the year and an all-WCHA first-team selection, an impressive achievement for the junior. His 19 assists led the WCHA and his 23 points were second, while he recorded a plus-15 rating and 27 blocked shots. The Red Wings often sign their top college prospects after their junior seasons, but Jensen is a late-round pick who might benefit from one more season in college … TSN’s Bob McKenzie reported Tuesday the Red Wings will sign free-agent goaltender Jared Coreau out of Northern Michigan. The 6-foot-5, 200-pound junior went 15-19-4 with a 2.70 goals-against average along with a .919 save percentage. He is described as “smooth and athletic” by Red Line Report, which said he “displayed strong mental focus and an ability to steal games” on a weak team. With Jordan Pearce set to become a Group 6 unrestricted free agent, Coreau will give the Red Wings good goaltending depth next season along with Petr Mrazek and Thomas McCollum … Defenseman Ryan Sproul found his way into four categories in the OHL Western Conference coaches poll. He was runaway winner for hardest shot and best offensive defenseman and was runner-up for best skater and best shot … Forward Calle Jarnkrok (Brynas, SEL) was held off the score-sheet in a four-game sweep at the hands of Skelleftea … McKee (Lincoln, USHL) is sitting out four games due to a suspension for racking up too many major penalties. He now has 292 PIMs in 40 games — 115 more than any other player in the league — and his lack of discipline appears to be bothering his head coach. “If this (suspension) doesn’t get the message across to him … He sat in that penalty box for three goals against Fargo the other night. We need him on the ice for 25-plus minutes, as opposed to in the penalty box for 15 minutes,” head coach Chad Johnson told the Lincoln Journal-Star.
Following is this week’s statistical report.
SKATERS: REGULAR-SEASON REPORT
|Nyquist, Gustav||Grand Rapids||AHL||AHL||58||23||37||60||34||+10||169|
|Ferraro, Landon||Grand Rapids||AHL||AHL||59||18||19||37||39||+2||122|
|Andersson, Joakim||Grand Rapids||AHL||AHL||36||10||17||27||55||+1||84|
|Parkes, Trevor||Grand Rapids||AHL||AHL||34||3||6||9||35||+6||39|
|Lashoff, Brian||Grand Rapids||AHL||AHL||36||2||4||6||23||+4||38|
|Tatar, Tomas||Grand Rapids||AHL||AHL||48||22||20||42||46||+12||160|
|Almqvist, Adam||Grand Rapids||AHL||AHL||55||6||17||23||30||+5||69|
|Nicastro, Max||Grand Rapids||AHL||AHL||22||1||2||3||10||+1||16|
|Raedeke, Brent||Grand Rapids||AHL||AHL||32||3||5||8||36||+1||26|
|Sheahan, Riley||Grand Rapids||AHL||AHL||60||16||19||35||27||+14||92|
|Aubry, Louis-Marc||Grand Rapids||AHL||AHL||53||3||7||10||40||0||68|
|Callahan, Mitchell||Grand Rapids||AHL||AHL||57||10||9||19||82||+1||108|
|Jurco, Tomas||Grand Rapids||AHL||AHL||60||10||10||20||18||-1||93|
|Fournier, Gleason||Grand Rapids||AHL||AHL||21||1||3||4||23||-2||15|
|Nestrasil, Andrej||Grand Rapids||AHL||AHL||20||3||3||6||2||0||22|
|Coetzee, Willie||Grand Rapids||AHL||AHL||1||0||0||0||0||-1||0|
|Jensen, Nick||St. Cloud State||WCHA||NCAA||38||4||25||29||12||+21||63|
|De Haas, James||Penticton||BCHL||USHL/JR-A||53||5||19||24||19||–||–|
|Sproul, Ryan||Sault Ste. Marie||OHL||CHL||50||20||46||66||45||0||–|
|Nedomlel, Richard||Swift Current||WHL||CHL||72||7||21||28||105||-13||–|
|Marchenko, Alexei||CSKA Moscow||KHL||EUR||44||4||5||9||6||-2||46|
GOALIES: REGULAR SEASON REPORT
|McCollum, Thomas||Grand Rapids||AHL||25||14||10||1||2||2.76||.899|
|Pearce, Jordan||Grand Rapids||AHL||4||0||3||0||0||4.32||.847|
|Mrazek, Petr||Grand Rapids||AHL||34||21||11||1||1||2.32||.918|
SKATERS: PLAYOFF REPORT
|Marchenko, Alexei||CSKA Moscow||KHL||EUR||5||0||1||1||0||-1||8|
|De Haas, James||Penticton||BCHL||USHL/JR-A||4||2||2||4||0||–||–|