I live just outside Detroit, so historically it has been much easier to invest my time in following the Red Wings than the Griffins. This year, due to the lockout, my attention turned to the AHL, and I was able to make the trip to Grand Rapids this weekend to see them play (and also dump cash into the local bars and restaurants). My seats were directly across from the home team bench, second row, so it was an especially good opportunity to see how the Red Wings' prospects are looking, and I figured that I could share my views for those folks who are unable to watch games live. (Disclaimer: N=1, so I'm by no means a pro scout)
Gustav Nyqvist is the Henrik Zetterberg of the Grand Rapids Griffins. He wasn't afraid to hold onto the puck until something opened up, played strong in the corners, back checked strongly, and scored the Griffins' only goal off a nice feed by Tatar. He impressed me the most.
Tomas Tatar: this kid has had so much hype follow him the past few years, it was exciting to finally see him play, and he was good. There really is nobody like him on the Wings that I can compare him to accurately, but the closest would be a riled up Jiri Hudler. The kid is small out there, but he is also very talented with the puck and knows his way around the offensive zone. He also isn't shy in the corners, in the crease, or against bigger, stronger, opponents. On the contrary, Tatar seemed to deliberately drive into the grittiest areas of the ice and put up a good fight despite his size. It was fun watching him skate.
Brendan Smith: above all else, Smith looked steady. Not overly physical in this game, no points that I am aware of ( unless he received a secondary asst). But he effectively neutralized a few odd man rushes, handled the puck like a veteran, and saw the ice impeccably. That last quality is one that will separate him from his peers in the NHL, if he continues to progress. Many of you were able to see this firsthand when he was with the Wings.
Tomas Jurco: Jurco failed to do anything to really stand out to me. No impressive stick handling, no amazing plays, etc. He played a bit uncertain of himself, in my opinion. I don't know if it was an off game for him, but I feel like this kid needs to establish himself as a leader on this team and a lot of the issues I had with his play will be solved.
Aubry: He was probably the biggest surprise of the night for me. He is a very tall, lanky looking kid, but he played very physical; dishing out a couple solid hits, taking a few, and never missing the opportunity to bump shoulders. He was effective on both ends of the ice, but didn't display any amazing passes, stick handles, or anything. Mostly it was nice to see a prospect with the potential to fill out to a lean 200lb+ play with a little sandpaper.
McCollum: I was interested to see him play because of all the flak he has been receiving for his disappointing play. In this game at least he was steady. 3 goals against, but one was an empty net, and the other was the result of a freak play where it appeared the Griffins had a delayed power play and McCollum went to the bench for a sixth skater, but it ended up being a delayed penalty against us, and the opposition scored on an empty net. The third goal was a one timer fed from behind the net to the slot that nobody would stop.
Sheahan: Disappointing. No overt physicality, no scoring opportunities. He was incredibly strong on the puck, fending off two guys at once on a few occasions, but did little to stand out aside from that.
Landon Ferarro: he looks to have a good offensive mind and a nose for the net. He didn't cash in on any chances, but he did generate some opportunities which led to him, or his teammates in good position to score. One such play occurred when Ferraro rushed down the right wing side, out skating one defender, then putting a nice move on the other defender which involved shoveling the puck between his own skates and kicking it out into tr slot for a quick shot on net.
Aside from that, nobody else stood out to me.
Griffins (prospects) update
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