Top Detroit Red Wings prospects will be gaining valuable experience as they embark on a playoff run in the American Hockey League.
The Grand Rapids Griffins will have home-ice advantage when their first-round, best-of-five series against the Milwaukee Admirals begins Friday. The Griffins (47-23-1-5, 100 points) have advanced to the second round of the playoffs four straight years.
The Griffins wrapped up the regular season by routing the Admirals, 5-1, Saturday in Milwaukee. It was a good night for forward Evgeny Svechnikov, the Wings’ first-round pick from 2015, as he celebrated a career-high four-point performance. He finished his first year of pro hockey with 20 goals and 31 assists for 51 points in 74 games. After turning pro last spring, Svechnikov, 20, snuck into two playoff games with the Griffins, recording one assist. He will be one of their go-to guys this year.
Defenseman Filip Hronek, Detroit’s second-round pick from 2016, has elbowed his way into the Griffins' lineup since turning pro this spring after producing 61 points in 59 games with the OHL’s Saginaw Spirit.
Forward Tomas Nosek, who asserted himself well in an 11-game stint with the Wings the last month of the season, finished with 26 assists among 41 points in 51 games for Grand Rapids. Forward Tyler Bertuzzi, who put in seven games with the Wings before suffering a high-ankle sprain, had 37 points in 48 games. Nosek and Bertuzzi are both candidates to be with the Wings full-time next season.
Bertuzzi scored on Hronek’s rebound in Saturday’s game, which also marked the pro debut of defenseman Dennis Cholowski, the Wings’ first-round pick last summer.
The Griffins were eliminated last season in the second round by the Cleveland Monsters, who went on to win the AHL championship. The Monsters failed to qualify for the playoffs this year.
This is the Griffins' second year under head coach Todd Nelson. The Griffins won the Calder Cup in 2013 under Jeff Blashill.