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Detroit Red Wings

Griffins Will Bring Back Enough Talent to Stay in the Hunt



sebastian Cossa, grand rapids griffins

Even with Jonatan Berggren, Simon Edvinsson and Albert Johansson graduating to the Detroit Red Wings next season, the Grand Rapids Griffins are still expecting to have a competitive team.

Part of the Yzerplan is keeping the Griffins in the playoffs to create the best development environment for Detroit prospects. Griffins coach Dan Watson is a major aspect of all of that.  It was important for the Griffins to be back in the playoffs for the first time since 2019.

Here is an overview of which players might be back in Grand Rapids next season:

Leaving GR

Jonatan Berggren will get his chance with the Red Wings. He was the Griffins’ top scorer (24-32—56 in 53 games) this season and scored a couple of goals for the Red Wings when called up.

Simon Edvinsson played in 54 AHL games and 16 with the Red Wings, showing the ability that landed him on the opening night roster in 2022-23 and will likely see him stick in Detroit to start next season.

Michael Hutchinson was solid in goal last season but, at 34, the Red Wings will likely tab one of their prospects to team with Sebastian Cossa next season. He may want to join another NHL organization that would give him more of an opportunity to play at the NHL level.

Albert Johansson probably will start the season as the Red Wings’ No. 6 or No. 7 defenseman.

On the Fence

Marco Kasper came on strong down the stretch and could stick in Detroit with a good camp. If he doesn’t, he will return to the Griffins.

Carter Mazur has an outside chance to make the Red Wings.  It’s hard not to admire his feisty style, spunk and his knack for being in the center of the action when his team needs a goal. He needs to add some muscle.

Nate Danielson will get some games with Detroit next season. He’s such a good two-way performer he’s a threat to make the team coming out of training camp.

The Goalies

Sebastian Cossa had a bryeakout season, but Steve Yzerman likes his goalies to have more experience before handing them the NHL reins. He did that in Tampa Bay, too, with Andrei Vasilevski. An entire season as Grand Rapids’ No. 1 goalie would be a positive. Don’t forget he’s only 21.

The big question is Cossa’s backup

John Lethemon had a good season in Toledo, as did his partner, Jan Bednar. Bednar, a fourth-round pick in 2020, will be 22 next season and is finishing his first season in pro hockey. Lethemon, an undrafted Michigan State alum, is 27. There’s a chance both of them will leave the organization.

The Red Wings may be looking for another AHL/NHL veteran to come in as the organization’s No. 3 netminder. They needed three NHL goalies last season.The Red Wings like Carter Gylander. He signed with the Red Wings after finishing his career at Colgate. He could start the season in Toledo and see what happens. Expect to see him in Grand Rapids at some point.


Shai Buium joined the team late in the season after winning an NCAA title at Denver. William Wallinder and Antti Tuomisto will return, as will team captain Josiah Didier. Wallinder and Tuomisto played well this season, and could play more minutes next season.

Eemil Viro is also under contract with Detroit and should be back.

Don’t expect to see Axel Sandin-Pellika next season. The Wings are content to let him get more experience in Sweden.


Don’t forget about Elmer Soderblom. The Red Wings haven’t. He was a productive player in the second half of the season for the Griffins. The Red Wings would like to have his size in their lineup, but he still must prove himself in training camp. He’s still waiver exempt. Amadeus Lombardi should receive an expanded role in Grand Rapids next season Cross Hanas will look to rebound from a disappointing offensive output last season. He had just 16 points in 58 games, one less than in 2022-23 in 28 fewer games. He also sat out the postseason. Austin Czarnik was a Griffin who spent the most time in the NHL last season, playing 34 games in Detroit and 38 in Grand Rapids,

The Griffins will likely bring back some veterans, including Czarnik, Dominik Shine, who is under contract, and possibly Joel L’Esperance, who is a free agent.

More importantly, those who return will have another year under Dan Watson. The learning curve between coach and players won’t be as steep next season, which could mean a better start and finish next year.