Jeff Blashill and the Red Wings organization have shown their commitment to veterans this season. This leaves many of Detroit’s younger players and prospects stuck in Grand Rapids. After a 5-2 loss to Carolina but Evgeny Svechnikov making more contributions, it’s a wonder more younger players haven’t been featured.
While this can be a bit frustrating for fans who were looking forward to a young, untested team, Detroit’s prospects are doing quite well for themselves over in Grand Rapids.
Cholowski would be the first one to say he’s disappointed with his reassignment to the Griffins. He was expected to occupy a main roster spot this year after playing 36 games with the Wings last season, notching 8 points in that time, with 2 goals and 6 assists.
However, the coaching stuff was frustrated with parts of Cholowski’s game, especially his defensive effort. As a result, the 23-year-old player started the 2020-21 season with the Grand Rapids Griffins, and has yet to be called up to the main roster.
Cholowski seems to be vying for a main roster spot by the end of the year with his impressive performance in Grand Rapids so far. His 3 goals and 5 assists give him 8 points, tied for second on the Griffins. With eight games played, Cholowski is averaging a point per game.
Perhaps just as exciting for Detroit fans is Cholowski’s success on the power play. The Griffins power play is ranked fourth in the AHL, and much of that is due to Cholowski’s role as quarterback. Half of his points (1 goal and 3 assists) have come on the power play, as he often takes the role of leader during the man advantage.
For a Red Wings team struggling on the power play (30th in the NHL), Cholowski’s showing the “elite ability” Blashill wanted on the power play. Could he get a look soon?
Tied for points on the Griffins is left winger Taro Hirose. After helping Detroit find some success on the power play early in the season, many fans were surprised by Hirose’s assignment to the GR.
But Hirose is making the most of it. Tied for second in points scored on the Griffins with 8, Hirose has acted as a catalyst for Grand Rapid’s offense, as 7 of those points are assists. This is especially exciting, considering Hirose has played in 4 of the Griffin’s 7 games so far – meaning that the young player is averaging 2 points per game.
Like Cholowski, Hirose has been key in Grand Rapid’s power play success. Hirose’s single goal and four of his assists were during a power play. Cholowski and Hirose have a strong chemistry developing on the power play, something that the struggling Red Wings need desperately.
While Givani Smith hasn’t had quite the stats explosion that the other two prospects have had, he is quietly playing some great hockey in Grand Rapids.
Smith is averaging half a point per game, with an assist and a goal so far. Like Hirose, Smith didn’t start the season with the Griffins, but he is starting to gel nicely with some of the other talent. Although Smith doesn’t have the numbers to match the previous two prospects, his presence on the ice has been just as important. His physical play style and infectious energy make the entire Grand Rapids roster better when he is on the ice.
Many in the Detroit Red Wings fanbase are confused and frustrated with the seemingly stalled development of these three prospects. All three seem to be NHL ready, showing an ability to score at a higher level than the AHL.
However, these three will likely stay with Grand Rapids until the April 12th trade deadline (barring more roster injury), should Detroit try to make a deal or two. Why?
Because General Manager Steve Yzerman is focused on the future.
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It is clear to most that watch the Red Wings that there are many veterans playing that don’t deserve a spot over the younger players. But Yzerman knows where this team is in the rebuild, and is more concerned with the team’s future than current success. Yzerman has some tantalizing trade bait in players such as Luke Glendening ( and somehow even Mark Staal), looking to move them to some contenders by the deadline for even more draft capital or prospects,
Keep an eye on Detroit’s prospects after the trade deadline. If Detroit makes even some of the moves that are currently rumored, there is bound to be at least a couple of gaps in the roster to fill. Then, Detroit Red Wings fans are in for an exciting finish to the season – with many of those gaps filled with players like Hirose, Cholowski, and Smith. Although it can be frustrating to deal with right now, if Wings fans are patient, they are going to finally get the young roster that they have wanted all along.