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Defending AHL champs back for more

Published Monday, April 14, 2014, 3:33 p.m. under 2013-14 RWC Reports
Teemu Pulkkinen

Teemu Pulkkinen (Credit: Mark Newman)

The Grand Rapids Griffins haven’t missed a beat as they prepare to defend last year’s AHL Calder Cup triumph.

The Griffins, who finished last season with 92 points, have already exceeded that total, breezing to a 46-22-6 record to leave them two points away from the 100-point plateau and a win away from clinching the Midwest Division crown.

What’s most impressive about their success — trailing only the Manchester Monarchs, Texas Stars and Springfield Falcons in the overall standings — is that they’ve done it despite losing so many key players along the way.

Up front, Riley Sheahan, Tomas Jurco, Calle Jarnkrok and Luke Glendening moved on to the NHL, while on the blue line, Alexey Marchenko went down with a season-ending injury.

Strong team play, particularly on the defensive side, has led to their success, as well as key offensive contributions from sniper Teemu Pulkkinen and defenseman Adam Almquist and the goaltending of Petr Mrazek and Thomas McCollum.

Mrazek and Almquist were named AHL second-team all-stars last week while Pulkkinen and defenseman Ryan Sproul made the all-rookie squad.

Whether it will all be enough for head coach Jeff Blashill to get the Griffins to another Calder Cup remains to be seen. Last year’s Griffins got hot at the right time, led by playoff MVP Tomas Tatar, and had the benefit of adding Gustav Nyquist, Joakim Andersson, Danny DeKeyser and Brian Lashoff after the Red Wings were eliminated from the playoffs.

NOTES: It appears there’s no looking back for Sheahan, Jurco and Glendening. “These kids (have) replaced our players because our players that were here can’t get their jobs back,” Babcock told Sportsnet last week. “It’s not like these (young) guys are going anywhere. They’re NHLers from now on.” All three would be eligible for the AHL playoffs should the Red Wings be eliminated before the Griffins, although Jurco would also be a candidate for Team Slovakia at the IIHF world championship … Sproul made his NHL debut in the final game of the regular season on Sunday and saw 18:25 of ice time, including more than three minutes on the power play. He showed off his impressive range, skating ability and hard shot, while demonstrating he is still a work in progress defensively. “He’s 6-foot-4, he can skate, he shoots BBs and he’s smart and he moves the puck,” Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock told MLive.com … Defenseman Xavier Ouellet paired with Sproul on Sunday and played 16:21. “Ouellet makes the right play each and every time,” Babcock said … Mrazek posted his second career NHL shutout on Sunday, a 3-0 win over St. Louis. His career NHL numbers: 3-5 record, 212 saves on 229 shots, 1.79 goals-against average and a .925 save percentage. He’s ready for full-time NHL duty in the fall … With Sproul’s debut, 12 of 23 players drafted from 2009 to 2011 have played in the NHL. Of those picks, only one was in the first round and no pick was higher than 21st overall … Center Landon Ferraro (Grand Rapids, AHL) has seen his production fall off the grid. He has just four goals and two assists in his past 27 games and just 30 points on the season. He’ll be hard-pressed to win a job in Detroit next fall at this rate … Defenseman Ben Marshall (Minnesota, NCAA) wrapped up his junior year with a 7-4 loss to Union College in the NCAA title game. It was the second trip to the Frozen Four of his career … Left-winger Andreas Athanasiou (Barrie, OHL) saw his junior season come to an end as his Colts suffered a 4-2 series loss to North Bay. Athanasiou had just three goals in 11 playoff games, including just one goal against North Bay … Elsewhere in the CHL: Tyler Bertuzzi’s Guelph Storm are in the OHL semifinals against Erie; Anthony Mantha’s Val-d’Or Foreurs are up against Halifax in the QMJHL semifinals; and the Kelowna Rockets, featuring Mitchell Wheaton and Marek Tvrdon, have advanced to the WHL semifinals … Mantha, not surprisingly, is the most notable of that group. He leads the QMJHL with 10 goals along with five assists in 10 games … Defenseman Mattias Backman (Linkoping, SHL) saw his squad eliminated 4-1 by Skelleftea in the SHL semifinals. He had five assists and a plus-4 in 11 games and could finish out the year in the AHL with Grand Rapids … Center Mattias Janmark (AIK, SHL) had just a goal and three assists in 10 games as AIK was relegated to Allsvenskan. It’s not clear where Janmark will play next season.

Sarah Lindenau contributed to this report.

SKATERS: REGULAR-SEASON REPORT

NAME TEAM LEAGUE LEVEL GP G A P PIM +/- SOG
Almquist, Adam Grand Rapids AHL PRO 71 4 48 52 56 +8 126
Callahan, Mitchell Grand Rapids AHL PRO 70 26 18 44 51 +23 194
Jurco, Tomas Grand Rapids AHL PRO 32 13 19 32 14 +10 91
Marchenko, Alexey Grand Rapids AHL PRO 49 3 15 18 14 +11 34
Sheahan, Riley Grand Rapids AHL PRO 31 8 10 18 12 -2 51
Sproul, Ryan Grand Rapids AHL PRO 70 10 21 31 49 0 145
Glendening, Luke Grand Rapids AHL PRO 18 5 7 12 18 +8 26
Jarnkrok, Calle Grand Rapids AHL PRO 57 13 23 36 14 +19 99
Pulkkinen, Teemu Grand Rapids AHL PRO 69 30 26 56 34 +17 197
Frk, Martin Grand Rapids AHL PRO 50 3 9 12 22 -12 45
Jensen, Nick Grand Rapids AHL PRO 44 0 9 9 8 +14 33
Tvrdon, Marek Grand Rapids AHL PRO 1 0 0 0 0 0 3
Ferraro, Landon Grand Rapids AHL PRO 68 15 15 30 48 -3 187
Aubry, Louis-Marc Grand Rapids AHL PRO 38 2 2 4 16 -1 48
Fournier, Gleason Grand Rapids AHL PRO 25 0 2 2 4 +4 19
Parkes, Trevor Grand Rapids AHL PRO 34 6 3 9 25 +6 50
Nestrasil, Andrej Grand Rapids AHL PRO 68 14 20 34 24 0 108
Ouellet, Xavier Grand Rapids AHL PRO 68 4 12 16 22 +3 89
Nedomlel, Richard Grand Rapids AHL PRO 3 0 0 0 2 -2 1
Campbell, Colin Grand Rapids AHL PRO 11 1 0 1 5 0 15
Nastasiuk, Zach Grand Rapids AHL PRO 3 0 0 0 0 -1 4
Parkes, Trevor Toledo ECHL PRO 27 17 17 34 20 0 106
Frk, Martin Toledo ECHL PRO 15 5 8 13 10 -11 27
Nicastro, Max Toledo ECHL PRO 58 0 16 16 28 -18 112
Nedomlel, Richard Toledo ECHL PRO 60 8 10 18 150 -16 111
Tvrdon, Marek Toledo ECHL PRO 22 9 4 13 6 -8 59
Aubry, Louis-Marc Toledo ECHL PRO 18 7 7 14 10 -4 62
Jensen, Nick Toledo ECHL PRO 3 0 0 0 0 -2 4
Mantha, Anthony Val-d’Or QMJHL CHL 57 57 63 120 75 +34 286
Hudon, Philippe Victoriaville QMJHL CHL 57 19 12 31 75 -1 125
Athanasiou, Andreas Barrie OHL CHL 66 49 46 95 52 +25
Nastasiuk, Zach Owen Sound OHL CHL 62 23 28 51 26 -14
Bertuzzi, Tyler Guelph OHL CHL 29 10 25 35 49 +9
McNulty, Marc Prince George WHL CHL 67 17 25 42 115 -10
Wheaton, Mitchell Kelowna WHL CHL 57 7 21 28 38 +31
Tvrdon, Marek Kelowna WHL CHL 29 11 16 27 24 +8
Janmark, Mattias AIK SEL EUR 45 18 12 30 56 -6 99
Backman, Mattias Linkoping SEL EUR 54 6 15 21 16 +25 68
Melen, Hampus Tingsryds SWE-J20 EUR-JR 11 0 5 5 14 -6 17
Bodin, Rasmus Linkoping SWE-J20 EUR-JR 14 0 2 2 2 -3 5
De Haas, James Clarkson ECAC NCAA 37 6 7 13 18 -12 49
Marshall, Ben Minnesota BIG-10 NCAA 39 3 15 18 56 +8 79
McKee, Mike W. Michigan BIG-10 NCAA 21 1 0 1 54 +1 11
Pope, David W. Kelowna BCHL USHL/JR-A 45 27 23 50 20

GOALIES: REGULAR SEASON REPORT

NAME TEAM LEAGUE GP W L O/S SO GAA SV%
Paterson, Jake Saginaw OHL 45 24 18 2 2 3.41 .906
Coreau, Jared Grand Rapids AHL 5 0 4 0 0 4.39 .873
Mrazek, Petr Grand Rapids AHL 31 22 8 1 3 2.07 .925
Coreau, Jared Toledo ECHL 19 1 12 5 0 4.10 .873
McCollum, Thomas Grand Rapids AHL 45 24 12 3 2 2.28 .922

SKATERS: PLAYOFF REPORT

NAME TEAM LEAGUE LEVEL GP G A P PIM +/- SOG
Pope, David W. Kelowna BCHL USHL/JR. A 6 2 4 6 2
Backman, Mattias Linkoping SEL EUR-PRO 11 0 5 5 6 +4 16
Janmark, Mattias AIK SEL EUR-PRO 10 1 3 4 24 0 22
Mantha, Anthony Val-d’Or QMJHL CHL 10 10 5 15 21 +6 49
Hudon, Philippe Victoriaville QMJHL CHL 5 3 1 4 6 -1 13
Athanasiou, Andreas Barrie OHL CHL 11 3 9 12 2 +1
Nastasiuk, Zach Owen Sound OHL CHL 5 3 1 4 2 -4
Bertuzzi, Tyler Guelph OHL CHL 8 5 4 9 12 +6
Wheaton, Mitchell Kelowna WHL CHL 9 0 4 4 8 +5
Tvrdon, Marek Kelowna WHL CHL 9 5 6 11 10 +5

GOALIES: PLAYOFF REPORT

NAME TEAM LEAGUE GP W L O/S SO GAA SV%
Paterson, Jake Saginaw OHL 5 1 4 0 0 4.67 .889
34 Comments
  1. Rw19 says:

    The truth about Kenny is that he has often lost assets on waivers over the years. Quincey and Ozzie come to mind. My view on it is that they could graduate at least one guy from the AHL and it probably will be Marchenko. They will try very hard to resign Quincey. If they don’t they will try to replace him with a veteran. I think Kindl has worn out his welcome but that is not the same as saying Holland wants waive him or trade him. Its basically a log jam in Detroit. In a year where their PP has been atrocious they haven’t considered him more than once for promotion. I just don’t think they see him as an everyday NHLer. Could he stick like Lebda and Meech once did? Sure. Is he the kind of can’t miss talent they can’t afford to lose? Only they know that but they don’t discuss him in those terms.

  2. Shawn says:

    I’m pretty sure no Detroit-drafted defenseman has ever produced more points in a single AHL season than Almquist (Kronwall produced the same number in his last AHL year, but in more games). Almquist is the only D [currently in the minors] not exempt from waivers next year. Holland rarely lets assets go before he knows what he has at the NHL level (though he does let them go after, sometimes, as you poitned out). Seems pretty obvious to me, but I’ve been wrong before.

  3. RomaGoth says:

    Ozzie was never let go via waivers, he left Detroit as a free agent when the Wings brought in Hasek prior to the 2002 season. Quincey was waived and picked up by the LA Kings. Lebda and Meech stayed in Detroit waaaaay too long and eventually both left as free agents. Neither of them was a NHL caliber player.

    I would not be too quick to give up on Kindl, NHL d-men typically don’t hit their peak until late 20’s-early 30’s and he is nowhere near reaching his potential yet. I still believe he has top 4 potential; the question is, do the Wings believe so as well?

  4. Treads says:

    Sorry RomaGoth, Ozzie was placed in the waiver draft before the season started and the Islanders picked him up. He was latertraded to the Blues and when he became a UFA he signed with the Wings.



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