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Clear Day On The Horizon
Roster Decisions Remain ...
By Jason Kasiorek

The Grand Rapids Griffins roster has undergone some major changes lately as the organization scrambles to find parts that fit for a long playoff run. Gone are underachievers Brendan Brooks, Scott Barney, Brock Radunske and Ryan Keller. They have been replaced by new names like Tony Voce, Ben Simon, Jonas Johansson, and Adam Keefe. The AHL's annual Clear Day roster freeze is set for Thursday, March 1st at 3:00PM, placing some urgency on personnel matters.

The blueline is the spot that is the most unsettled for Grand Rapids, with injuries the major culprit. No word yet on how long veteran Brad Norton or promising rookie Jonathan Ericsson will be out, but time is running out, and if they won't be ready in time, replacements must be found. Counting Danny Syvret who is on recall to Edmonton (NHL), the Griffins only have five healthy defensemen, and one of those (Jim Jackson) was just signed this morning and is looking to make his AHL debut. Ace Derek Meech should be ready to go any day, but beyond that there is little depth. Some reinforcements on the backend are needed.

The good news is that a loophole in the AHL rules allow teams to add junior players who have completed their season to the roster after the Clear Day roster is finalized. The two most prominent names that could be added are blue-chip defender Jakub Kindl who was with the Griffins at the end of last season, and Center Darren Helm who will probably be a regular with GR next season. It is also possible that another defenseman will be added in this fashion much like Brett Lebda was at the end of his college career.

2007 Preliminary Clear Day Roster

1 G Jimmy Howard
2 G Stefan Liv
3 D Derek Meech
4 D Kyle Quincey
5 D Dan Smith
6 D Jon Insana
7 D Tom Galvin
8 F Ryan Oulahen
9 F Darryl Bootland
10 F Tony Voce
11 F Evan McGrath
12 F Kip Miller
13 F Matt Ellis
14 F Eric Himelfarb
15 F Ben Simon
16 F Matt Hussey
17 F Jeff Campbell
18 F Jonas Johansson
19 F Adam Keefe
20 F Jamie Tardif
21 ?
22 ?

That leaves two open spots that probably will go to defensemen, either Ericsson and Norton, or whoever is signed to replace them. More decisions will have to be made if it is deemed that Josh Langfeld will be returning from Detroit once their injured players return. With Langfeld's return, the club will have 14 forwards on the roster, and will likely have to trim one from the Clear Day list of 22 players. Players can be added after Thursday's deadline if three or more players are injured and can't play, or in the case of amateurs being signed as discussed earlier. It would not be surprising to see McNamara leave a forward off the roster (Tardif?) and make the last three spots all defenseman as he has done in past seasons.