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Down on the Farm


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Minor league report as the season enters its second half.....th?id=A32a1a0dd91c8334752b1b359ef3183f7&


  Coach Blashill has obviously moved on to Detroit and left Western Canada to former Oiler head coach Todd Nelson. The Griffins started the year absolutely dreadfully, a horrible 1-7 start in which they simply could not buy a goal. I watch way too much AHL hockey, it is filled with young hungry guys trying to make it and old vets looking for one final shot, a fun blend. What the Griffs did the first 8 games was unwatchable.

  Then they found their game, since then they have been the best team in all of the AHL and have nearly claimed the overall best record in the west, only a few points to go. A record home winning streak  of 13 straight is still active.

  But let me make it quite clear, it is not like a few years ago when kids were everywhere. There is a lot of veteran presence and if you are looking for a team filled with future glory, yes there is some but not as much as in years past.

  The teams top two scorers are veteran AHLers Tangradi and Miele who are non prospects but who lead the kids quite well. Robbie Russo runs the point on the back end and is considered to be a future career AHLer. Guys like Aubry, Zengerle and Callahan dot the roster, all young enough but flawed players who will likely never see the Joe without a ticket.

  And now Dan Cleary and Brian Lashoff are both semi regulars and Jakub Kindl has joined the team. Veterans are everywhere. Guys you do not want on the Wings. 30-somethings like Nathan Paetsch, Jeff Hoggan, Joel Rechlicz and Tristan Grant are there simply to show the kids how to act on and off the ice.

  But there are some real prospects.

Mantha andth?id=OIP.Mf6b0b97fa42b13d6a17c2e290e6b1 Athanasiou like the rest of the team started slow, but since the 8 game futility that opened the year both are point a game players. AA received a well deserved call up earlier in the year and Mantha should see one this year as well with both pushing for middle six roles as soon as next season with the big club. Mantha seems recovered from last years injuries, is not taking stupid penalties by the handful anymore and has found his goal scoring touch. Athanasiou has proven to be an adept passer and a perfect 200 foot game player.

  Tomas Nosek received a call up by the parent Wings after proving to be a solid P/K killer, he was not good with the Wings but might be able to move into a Joakim Anderssen role for a third of the money as the 13th forward. Martin Frk who I wrote off years ago as a late first round bust seems to have found something, 14 goals in only 27 games but I am still weary of labeling him a prospect.

  Huge things were expected of Tyler Bertuzzi in his first full year in GR but he has been lost, only 2 goals as he is still looking for his role on the team. He does lead the team in penalties and was suspended earlier in the year showing the nephew is a lot like the uncle in that regard.

  Xavierth?id=OIP.M44f5ebc042e25d5d1aa6af5a5d771 Oullet is the leader on the blueline and proven that he could play with the Wings and not embarrass himself. Ryan sproul and Nick Jensen and also doing quite well back there, any of the three could step into a bottom pairing in the NHL and hold their own, maybe a bit of upside but not much there.

  In net, Jaredth?id=OIP.M0d08b719b15f25df480b79a87a462 Coreau is the one to watch. He may actually push not Howie for the backup role but Mrazek for the starting job within a few years.He has a 19-5-1 record and a microscopic 2.08 goals against and a .933 save pct. Simply owning the AHL in his first full year there the kid is more of a traditional, Pekka Rinne type at 6 foot 6 he fills the net and controls play, his glovework is already NHL caliber. Looks like a beast out there. Bigger than anything the Wings have had in net ever. Already 24 so getting a bit old as a prospect but has absolutely dominated the AHL this year. In part time duty last year he went 16-8-1 so this is certainly no fluke.

  So three defenseman who can play bottom pair minutes at the NHL level, a 24 year old behemoth in net who is stopping everything fired at him, Bertuzzi who looks lost, and Mantha who has found his shooting range and AA who looks like the real deal. Not as deep as in years past, but certainly not bad.


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I think it's important to have a winning attitude in your farm system. There's nothing wrong with having a veteran team showing the new guys the way. A good franchise is only going to bring up 1 or 2 kids each year, if that, so as long as you have that in the pipeline you should be able to do what the Wings do...

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Thanks for the summary, as I never get to see those games.

Coreau has got his work cut out for him, as Mrazek is currently #3 in the league in save percentage. And Mrazek has already demonstrated that he's not the kind to take his eye off his target of being the #1 net minder on this team. Particularly impressive has been the quality chances that he has stopped in attaining that percentage. The Wings' D for the first 1/3 of this season was particularly dreadful, making average players look great. Yet, despite the lack of defensive support, he has achieved greatness. No doubt in my mind that he is the MVP for us so far this season, he and Larkin being our most consistent performers.

Jimmy who? ;-)

OK, that was wrong, because we NEED Howard to be solid as a backup this season if we are going to make a dent. He's gotta step up when it's his turn.

Coreau is NOT going to be able to wrest the top job from Mrazek nearly as easily as Mrazek has from Howard, and I hope that doesn't discourage the kid.

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