Friday, July 06, 2007

Detroit inks Ellis, Ference, Berkhoel

By Matthew Wuest

The Detroit Red Wings have signed forward Matt Ellis, defenseman Brad Ference and goaltender Adam Berkhoel, a team source said Thursday. Ellis, who has been in the Red Wings' system for five seasons, took a pass on unrestricted free agency to sign a two-year deal, while Ference and Berkhoel have inked one-year contracts.

The 26-year-old Ellis served as captain of the American Hockey League's Grand Rapids Griffins last season, recording 26 goals and 23 assists for 49 points in 65 games. He also made his NHL debut with Detroit, averaging 5:35 of ice time and going pointless in six games. Ellis will have a chance to win a spot as Detroit's 12th or 13th forward at training camp, but he could also return to Grand Rapids.

Ference, the 10th overall pick in the 1997 NHL Entry Draft, has played just five NHL games over the past three seasons. The 6-foot-3, 218-pounder, known for his nasty disposition, had three goals, 23 assists and 210 penalty minutes in 73 games with the AHL's Omaha Knights last year. Ference is a veteran of 250 NHL games, during which he has recorded 565 penalty minutes. He'll likely play in the AHL next season.

Berkhoel, meanwhile, is No. 4 on the Red Wings' goaltending depth chart, and could serve as Jimmy Howard's backup in Grand Rapids next season. He spent last year with the ECHL's Dayton Bombers, posting a 2.44 goals-against average and a .910 save percentage in 44 starts. The 26-year-old Denver University product appeared in nine NHL games with the Atlanta Thrashers in 2005-06 as an injury replacement.


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