It's that time of year. The trade deadline has passed, but that doesn't mean the end of roster moves. As many fans in Detroit know, the NHL's 23-man roster limit has been lifted until the end of next preseason. That means teams can have anyone from their 50 contract slots become eligible to dress for a game with nominal effort. With the Griffins well out of the AHL playoffs, the call-ups could come sooner than in years past. The Griffins season officially ends April 11th, but the Wings don't have to wait until the Griffins finish out the year...most players the Wings would be interested in calling-up have two-way deals. As always this year their moves are dependent upon cap space. The Wings have 37k left, so expect some movement around the end of the season (but with that limited of cap space left don't expect a movement until maybe one of the last two games).
"So what!," you say. These are minor league players after all . Well, these type of players can help give the team a significant boost and not just in the playoffs. Jonathan Ericsson was called up to Detroit in March last year to replace injured defenceman Andreas Lilja. Ericsson was enshrined by Wings fans soon there after. If not for an appendectomy, he would have played in all their playoff games--sometimes cracking the top four defensive rotation (what more can you ask from a call-up?). He finished an outstanding playoffs having done the following: playing 22 games while averaging approximately 18 minutes-a-game, scoring 4 goals, adding 4 assists, and having a +8 rating. Other names have been important cogs in recent late season play too. Other overachievers include Darren Helm and Justin Abdelkader. They were just as important as Ericsson. Helm was called-up and became a staple on the forth line in '08, to follow that up the following year by becoming the playoff's hit leader (118 in 23 games), scoring some big time goals, and becoming known for having scored 6 goals in the playoffs before scoring in the regular season. Abdelkader played in Games 1 and 2 of the Stanley Cup Final averaged 7 minutes, had 32 hits, and scored goals in each game. So yes, these player can be vital to the team's success.
So who's going to be this year's regular season last game call-up? Don't be shocked if it is Brad May and Jakub Kindl. Before the last game against the Hawks that has the potential to tun nasty expect some movement and look for May to "keep the pest off." Kindl should allow a top 4 defenseman to rest (provided the Wings don't need to win to get in).
So who are the names to look out for come call-up time? How about: Abdelkader, Kindl, Mattias Ritola, Cory Emmerton. The 2010 Black Aces will be at Joe Louis Arena sooner than you think. Does that mean they will have the success of past call-ups? Probably not, but you never know. And that's the beauty of the playoffs and why prognosticators end up looking silly more often than not.