The Detroit Red Wings have long been one of the top teams in the NHL, and after watching their AHL affiliate wrap up a Calder Cup championship they have to feel pretty good about their future. The Grand Rapids Griffins completed an improbable playoff run with a 5-2 win over the Syracuse Crunch (Tampa Bay Lightning) on Tuesday night, bringing home a Calder Cup for the first time in franchise history. Many players on the Griffins roster spent time in Detroit this season, while others should see time there in the next few seasons. At least four players who were key components of the Griffins’ playoff success – Gustav Nyquist, Joakim Andersson, Tomas Tatar and Danny DeKeyser – will likely start the 2013-14 season with the Red Wings.
Tatar took home the Jack A. Butterfield Trophy as playoff MVP, after scoring 16 goals and recording 21 points in the postseason. He scored 23 goals and had 49 points for the Griffins during the regular season, while notching four goals and seven points in 18 games with the Red Wings. He’ll have a great chance to make the team out of training camp, and after four seasons in the AHL he appears more than ready.
The Red Wings brass also got an extended look at how the next wave of prospects perform under pressure, as Tomas Jurco, Landon Ferraro and Riley Sheahan turned in impressive playoff efforts. Jurco had eight goals and 14 points, while Ferraro and Sheahan each finished the postseason with 16 points. Rookie goaltender Petr Mrazek played all 24 playoff games, posting a 15-9 record with a 2.31 goals-against average. The former 2010 fifth round draft pick won 23 games with a 2.33 goals-against average during the regular season, and was 1-1 with a 2.02 GAA in two starts for the Red Wings. He’s in line for at least one more season in the AHL but had an amazing rookie campaign that should be easy to build on.
The Red Wings’ playoff run may have ended sooner than the team had hoped, but the organization at least has something to celebrate now. First-year head coach Jeff Blashill did a great job with this year’s Griffins team, and it will be interesting to see how long the Red Wings can keep him in the organization if he continues to win consistently.