Welcome to week two of Red Wings Prospects in Grand Rapids. Last week we talked about a couple players who are brink of not having their contract re-newed and a couple new faces to the Griffins who have something to prove. This week we will talk about the fringe players.
Fringe players are the prospects who would not be able to challenge for a spot in the NHL this season, but in two to three years there names could be on the Red Wings roster. Whether it is their offence, defence, or positioning they are not ready to held the competition and skill level that comes with playing in the NHL. All of these players have shown flashes of an NHL calibre player, but the flashes are not constant. They still have holes in their game which need refining, but when they are ready to take the next step they will be exciting to watch.
Mitch Callahan – No one on the Griffins works harder than Mitch. He wasn’t blessed with the talent like other players, but he makes up for it with his fists and his work ethic. He made the WHL’s Kelowna Rockets as a walk on, the team went on to win the WHL, but lost in the Memorial Cup Championship Game to the Windsor Spitfires. In his first season with the Griffins last season he was hurt on two separate occasions limiting him to 40 games. In those forty games he managed to put up 9 points and 103 penalty minutes, 70 of them coming from fighting majors. He sticks up for his team mates and this season he already has one fighting major and the Griffins are only two games into the season. Mitch has shown a prowess for getting points in the WHL, but in the AHL he is a grinder, intimidator, and fighter. He goes to the net hard and uses his body well to wreak havoc on the other team. He has a chance to make the Wings as an enforcer who can produce on the scoreboard as well. You can follow Mitch on twitter at @emcy1five
Landon Ferraro – When people talk about the fastest player on the Griffins Landon’s name pops up every time. In the WHL he was a shooter, but with only 87 shots on goal last season (17th on the team) he will need to shoot more often if he wants to regain that title. Last season, his rookie year, he put up 20 points in 56 games and is expected to contribute even more this season. He has two points in two games this season and is using his speed as an advantage to get around the defender and break to the net. Landon is a faster skater with some finish in his game, but he will need to improve defensively if he wants to be in the NHL and compared to Helm. If he can add the defensive aspect to his game at a level need Helm’s he could be a very strong and important piece to the Red Wings.
Brian Lashoff – After Smith, Lashoff might be the next Griffin defenceman ready to make the jump to the NHL. Last season he served as a black ace for the Red Wings during their short playoff run receiving valuable experience. In his second full season, last year, with the Griffins he put up 19 points, 41 penalty minutes, and played in all 76 games. He knows how to use his 6’3” 212 pound frame well and doesn’t shy away from contact. I was able to watch him for a few days in Traverse City, MI at the Detroit Red Wings Development Camp and he had a strong showing. He is solid in the defensive zone and makes smart plays with and without the puck. He can be beat around the outside, but keeps his body in a good position to be able to get a piece of his man or poke the puck away. I won’t be surprised if he makes the Red Wings next season as a 6th/7th defenceman and he has the ability to become a second pair defenceman in the coming years.
Riley Sheahan – Sheahan is entering his rookie season with the Griffins after playing 7 games with them last year. He, also, received a shot to play with the Wings for a game last season and while he received two penalties, he held his own. He looked more comfortable and faster to the puck than both Mursak and Emmerton. His body is more suited to grinding people in the corners and he put pressure a lot of pressure on the Blackhawks 4th line. His 6’2″ frame helps him create more space on the ice for the puck, which increases the time he can hold onto it. He does not have a pure shot, but he crashes the net and can out muscle the other guy. His conditioning and stamina might not be the same as the CHL or AHL players because the NCAA only plays around 40 games a season. He might fad down the stretch, but with the amount of players the Griffins have on the roster at this time he should be well rested and pull through the year. Expect him to spend the whole year in Grand Rapids while seeing a small amount of NHL next season.
All four of these players have a legitimate shot at making to the NHL. Maybe not this year, but within three years they will be pushing hard to break into the NHL and be solid contributors to the Red Wings franchise. There are holes in each of their games that need to be corrected and they have to become more consistent players before making the jump from the AHL to the NHL. But when they make the jump there will be a solid base of young players for the Red Wings organization to add veterans and skilled players to the mix.