Last season Detroit Red Wings fans saw the NHL debut of prospect Brendan Smith, and got a glimpse of the team’s future on the blue line. With the retirement of Nicklas Lidstrom and the loss of Brad Stuart to free agency, the team will look to Smith and a few other prospects with the AHL’s Grand Rapids Griffins if the lockout ends. In a recent interview with Ansar Khan of the Detroit Free Press, coach Mike Babcock mentioned Brian Lashoff and Adam Almquist as the likely next two players who could skate in Detroit.
The high point of the season for Lashoff so far came on Dec. 22, when he score an overtime game-winning goal to send the Griffins past the Midwest Division rival Chicago Wolves (Vancouver Canucks). Lashoff now has two goals and six points for the Griffins, and once again sees a high amount of ice time while rarely visiting the penalty box (he has only take three minor penalties this season). The maturity and leadership he has shown in his three seasons in Grand Rapids led to first-year head coach Jeff Blashill naming him as an assistant captain for this season.
The Red Wings signed Lashoff as an undrafted free agent, following a strong performance at their 2008 training camp. He had spent two season with the OHL’s Barrie Colts at that point, and would later return for another half season with the Colts and a season and a half with the Kingston Frontenacs. His best junior season came in 2009-10 when he score 27 points and made a brief late-season appearance in Grand Rapids. The 2010-11 season saw him sidelined by injury and he only appeared in 37 games. He bounced back nicely last season, improving his hitting, defensive zone play and scoring (eight goals, 19 points). The Wings like his size, and hope he can be a consistent NHL defenseman capable of landing the big hit while still being aware of how the play around him is developing. He is never going to put up gaudy offensive numbers, but does possess a strong shot from just inside the offensive zone. Lashoff’s size and skill compare well to that of current Red Wing Jakub Kindl.
Lashoff’s brother Matt Lashoff is a Toronto Maple Leafs prospect who has seen some NHL action. The two have squared off several times in the AHL, as have Griffins defenseman Brendan Smith and his brother Reilly Smith of the Texas Stars (Dallas Stars).