Now that we’re past the trade deadline, NHL rosters are pretty much built. There will be no more tearful goodbyes, and the draft and talk of adding prospects will now have to wait until after the Stanley Cup playoffs. However, that doesn’t mean teams don’t have the chance to add fresh faces to their lineup before the end of the season.
Related: 4 Red Wings to Watch at the Trade Deadline
Like many other teams, the Detroit Red Wings have a solid collection of talent marinating in the American Hockey League (AHL). Their AHL affiliate, the Grand Rapids Griffins, are still trying to scratch and claw their way into a playoff spot in what has been a disappointing season. Despite the team’s struggles, there have been a number of individuals who have performed well this season and have given themselves a good chance to see some NHL action before the end of the season.
With a month left in the NHL season, here are three Griffins the Red Wings may want to call up.
(D) Simon Edwinson
Of course, right?
Simon Edwinsson, the Red Wings’ top pick in the 2021 draft, is nearing the end of his first season in North America. The Swedish defenseman was one of the last cuts to the Red Wings roster before the season, and many expect him to start the 2023-24 season in Detroit. What better way to kick him off next season than to give him a taste of what’s to come at the NHL level?
As it was before his draft season, Edwinsson’s game stands out for his combination of size and skill. The 6-foot-6 guard uses his long reach to spike the jumper in transition as well as disrupt shots and passing lanes on defense. While he can sometimes over-rely on his size advantage, it’s not a bad thing that he already recognizes that his size gives him an advantage over other players. If the Red Wings did call him up, he would instantly become the biggest player on their blue line. As for his skill level, he stands out at the AHL level as a defenseman who can really lead from behind. He looks to make things happen on nearly every shift, and while risk-taking has been an issue at times this season, he’s the type of defender who thrives when he’s free to take risks to create offensive opportunities.
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After the Red Wings traded Filip Hronek to the Vancouver Canucks, the offensive capabilities of their defensive group took a serious hit. Hronek tied for second on the team in scoring at the time of the trade, and Detroit brought in no one to replace his production. Edvinsson has the potential to become a star forward-defenseman in the NHL, and a taste of the NHL this season could help the 20-year-old defenseman reach that potential. He could even boost the Red Wings’ power play, which currently ranks 17th in the league.
(D) Jared McIsaac
Something that should develop in recent weeks on the 2018 Line, which features forwards Jonathan Berggren and Filip Zadina, wing center Joe Veleno. Those three forwards were the Red Wings’ first three picks in the 2018 draft, allowing for one of the better nicknames Red Wings fans have seen in recent memory. But as you may or may not know, the fourth player Detroit took in the 2018 draft is currently guarding the blue line in Grand Rapids.
Jared McIsaac, the 36th overall pick in 2018, is in his second full season in the AHL. He has 43 points through 132 AHL games and has made steady progress since turning pro. While it looks like his offense will be limited at the pro level, he can still make a good, clean pass out of his own zone, and he tackles well when pressured by his own end. Despite an unfortunate stretch where he played just 46 games between the start of the 2019-20 season and the end of the 2020-21 season due to isolated injuries, he looks to be on track to carve out a solid career for himself; now it’s time to see if that career will mostly be spent in the AHL or the NHL.
McIsaac is a restricted free agent at the end of the season, meaning the Red Wings will retain his rights unless they decide to release him. Complicating matters is the fact that he will no longer be on waivers next season, meaning the Red Wings will have to waive him next season before they can assign him to Grand Rapids. Given the fact that he will turn 23 at the end of March, it may be in the Red Wings’ best interest to take a look at him in the NHL this offseason to help them decide what to do with him next season.
(D) Albert Johansson
Perhaps the biggest surprise coming out of Griffin’s season is quarterback Albert Johansson, a second-round pick from the 2019 draft. After a prolific start to his career in the Swedish Hockey League, Johansson joined Edvinsson and others as first-timers in North America this season. While Edvinsson and winger Elmer Söderblom drew a lot of attention due to their size and proximity to the NHL (Söderblom made the Red Wings’ roster out of training camp), Johansson has done nothing but steadily improve during his first season. AHL.
Like most Europeans in their first season in North America, Johansson had a bit of a slow start this season. The 6-foot-6 defenseman doesn’t have the same physical tools that Edvinsson does, and his overall toolbox isn’t as dynamic as Edvinsson’s either. However, the 22-year-old displays a mature game that combines safe play in his own zone and timely reads in the offensive zone. By the end of 2022, Johansson really began to earn the trust of head coach Ben Simon and his coaching staff, and that trust led to an increased role for him as the season progressed.
Johansson is the type of defenseman who could theoretically fit alongside almost any type of defensive partner. He can play a responsible or more risky game depending on what his team asks of him, and that versatility could come in handy as the Red Wings try to figure out what their defensive pairings could look like next season. : Also, if Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman and head coach Derek LaLonde want to draft as a prize rather than a source of information, Johansson emerges as one of the players, if not the player, who has improved the most during this stretch. this season. He will be another player pushing for a spot in the upcoming NHL training camp, so why not give him an early look at what the next level is like?
The Red Wings can play it safe
The Red Wings have already had to draft several players from the Griffins since the trade deadline. In a recent matchup with the Boston Bruins, the Red Wings’ fourth line featured center Austin Charnik and winger Alex Chiasson, both recalled from Grand Rapids, with Charnik on an “emergency loan.” Teams can only make routine calls three times after the trade deadline, which means they have to be intentional about any non-emergency calls.
Any of these three defensemen could get the call to pack up and head to Detroit, especially if a Red Wings defenseman is injured between now and the end of the season. Another player who could be called up is Söderblom, but given that he’s already played a few games for the Red Wings this season, he didn’t make this list.
But if their recent actions are any indication, the Red Wings may instead decide to reward some of Grand Rapids’ veteran players if they decide to use the call-up. Matt Lough is one example, especially after the forward spent several months on injured reserve following his breakout performance with Detroit in November. Goaltender Alex Nedelkovic could also likely return, especially if something happens that shakes up the Red Wings’ goaltending depth chart. However, it’s not confirmed that Yzerman and Lalonde will choose a younger face when they decide to add to the roster.
As the season enters its final month, teams are preparing for whatever is in store at the end of April, whether it’s the offseason or the playoffs. In the case of the Red Wings, this final month gives players one last chance to “audition” for a role on next season’s team before fall training begins. This is the last chance for Edvinsson, McIsaac and Johansson to show that they are ready to push for the NHL next season. Ideally, that push starts with a taste of what the NHL looks like before this season ends.