Friday, July 13, 2007

Griffins loading up on prospects

By Matthew Wuest

The Detroit Red Wings continue to stock up their top minor-league affiliate, the Grand Rapids Griffins of the American Hockey League.

The Red Wings confirmed today the signing of center Mark Hartigan to a one-year, two-way contract. He’s the third high-profile minor-leaguer to be signed to a two-way contract by the Red Wings since July 1, joining center Mark Cullen and right winger Carl Corazzini.

Hartigan (57 points in 59 games) Cullen (52 points in 56 games), Corazzini (57 points in 68 games) were all extremely productive in the AHL last season and should provide significant offensive punch for the Griffins.

The squad could also see the return of do-everything captain Matt Ellis, who signed a two-year, two-way contract with the Wings in June.

Notable Red Wings prospects such as Darren Helm, Evan McGrath and Ryan Oulahen stand to benefit from their presence.

The Griffins should be stocked on the blue line, with at least three prospects among the group of Kyle Quincey, Derek Meech, Jakub Kindl and Jonathan Ericsson expected to be assigned to the minors.

The Red Wings also inked bruising defenseman Brad Ference to a one-year, two-way contract earlier this month.

Jimmy Howard and Adam Berkhoel are the anticipated tandem in goal.

The Griffins are coming off an average season, having gone 37-32-6-5 and losing in the first round of the playoffs. The off-season housecleaning should see the team make significant gains in the standings.


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