Welcome to another Prospect Mailbag! As always submit questions to me via email ([email protected]) or via twitter(@ProspectGuy). The questions don’t have to be about Red Wings prospects but I would like them to be hockey related. As for my twitter, I live tweet Red Wings and Griffins games as well as keep you updated on all things Red Wings. Give it a follow.
“McCollum is boasting some great numbers right now in Grand Rapids. Would you call this a breakout year for him?” -Noah
I wouldn’t really say that, McCollum’s numbers are really inflated due to the talent in front of him. When I watch McCollum, I still see a goalie who is inconsistent and lets in a lot of really weak goals. He just doesn’t seem to have the mindset of an NHL goalie. McCollum will probably get resigned on another 1 year minor league deal due to the struggles of Coreau down in Toledo and the likely promotion of Mrazek, but I would expect him to back up Paterson next year. Paterson looks to be a guy with some real high-end skill and I would expect him to win the starting job come the fall. I would be surprised if McCollum ever plays a game in the NHL at this point.
Goalies can take a long time to develop, I don’t want to ignore that, but he just doesn’t seem to be able to play hockey at an NHL level.
Will Anthony Mantha play with the Red Wings this year? - John
For those who are curious, John is referring to the rumor that Jiri Fischer told Mantha to “be ready” at the end of the season, but I don’t believe these rumors. He has never played in a puck possession system and there is no way the Wings want him playing in the NHL before he plays in the AHL or a training camp. He would only be eligible to play come playoff time since he would have to finish his season in the Q first and IF the Wings were to make the playoffs they are not going to put Mantha in a position to fail like that. You would figure that both Callahan and Ferraro are higher on the list than Mantha. People look at Mantha’s stats and start drawing comparisons to MacKinnon and Crosby without realizing the differences between the two seasons. MacKinnon was a year younger (which is a huge deal at that stage of development) and his game is more complete than Mantha’s was. There is a reason he was drafted #1 and Mantha went 20th. The Crosby comparisons are weak and based solely off production. (Insert the same thing I said about MacKinnon and then multiply it by 3) . If Mantha is playing in a Red Wings uniform this season than here is what you should feel;
1) Excitement, it will be playoff time and the Wings will have made it! Woo.
2) Fear. If the Wings made the playoffs this means they were clicking until even more injuries occurred enough to where Pulkkinen, Ferraro, and Callahan are all playing regular minutes in the lineup. That means that roughly half your team has less than 2 years of experience. This means the Wings either get swept in 4 games, or they surrender in 3.
Where does the credit go for Grand Rapids success this year? -Mike
Jeff Blashill. This team has essentially been gutted due to call ups, trades, or injuries and yet they still win. Since they raised the cup last year they have lost Nyquist, Andersson, Tatar, Sheahan, Jurco, Mrazek, Pulkkinen, Emmerton, Eaves, Jarnkrok, Lashoff, Marchenko and Tootoo(who was recalled on the 15th). That is 12 players for you math whizzes out there. I don’t think there has been enough discussion about this. Almost all of those players are able to play first line AHL minutes as legitimate difference makers. Nyquist, Tatar, and Jurco could all be considered elite AHL forwards at the time of their promotions. Blashill’s ability to mentor and coach this team is superb. The rapid growth that players have seen under his tutelage is mind-boggling. The most important part of his job is to squeeze talent out of his players and prepare them for the NHL. The last two years show that he is growing talent and knows how to teach. His other main objective is to win. A Calder Cup Championship in his first year and the Griffins have the most points in the Western Conference this year and look like a team who could repeat if things go their way and Mrazek gets hot when he returns to the Griffins come playoff time.
The Front Office should also be given almost equal amounts of credit for this. No matter how good Blashill is at growing talent and teaching, you must have something to work with, and the Wings front office has shown an ability to identify talent and is able to put the right people in the right spots to have them develop and grow into their potential.
“If the Wings miss the playoff and the playoff streak ends I think Babcock and Holland be fired. Who do you think should be their replacements?” -Anonymous
Under no circumstances should either Babcock or Holland be fired. There is no coach I would rather have than Mike Babcock. If you gave me the power to get any coach or GM from any other team and have them work for the Red Wings, I would still choose Babcock and Holland. Babcock is one of the best coaches of his generation, and Holland is one of the best General Managers ever. The Wings struggles have not been due to a lack of talent or lack of coaching, it has been the inevitable struggle as the core(Dastyuk, Zetterberg, Lidstrom) gets older and more frail and then ultimately retire. The Wings don’t have the luxury of drafting in the top 10, so they have to draft players who aren’t NHL ready yet. This kind of stuff takes time and unfortunately with all these injuries, it’s a struggle right now, but the Red Wings front office has my full confidence and anything else by my eyes is just a product of them being too good at their jobs in the past and raising the bar too high. On the first day of the season from the years 1994-2010 you could look at me and say I think the Wings will win the Stanley Cup, and you would’ve been taking the “safe pick.” This team was dominant for almost 20 years straight. I want these guys around for as long as they want.