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Clear Day Decisions Easy This Season
Playoff hunt in critical condition...
By Jason Kasiorek

With the NHL's trade deadline passing on Tuesday, the hockey world shifts its' attention to the next deadline - the AHL's Clear Day - Thursday, February 28th at 3:00 PM. This is the day that American League teams' must finalize their playoff rosters and submit a list of 22 players' eligible for the postseason. Most years this is a highly anticipated day in Grand Rapids, where the Griffins are usually putting the finishing touches on another banner season and gearing up for a playoff run. This season however, with the Griffins playoff chances on life support, the real question is whether they will have 22 names left to put on the list.

With 21 games left, Grand Rapids needs to make up 14 points on the third place team, Hamilton, to take the last spot in the conference. That looks like a daunting task sliding into the last quarter of the season with a 23-29-2-5 record and major lineup problems. Already in a season long slump, the Griffins took some major blows lately with the recall of almost the entire defensive corps to Detroit when Howard, Stafford, Ericsson, and Quincey were summoned by the Wings. Add to that the absence of leading scorer Mark Hartigan who also was recalled to the NHL to take the place of Matt Ellis, claimed on waivers by Los Angeles (NHL) on the way back to GR. The next blow should happen on March 9th when the club's only spark, Darren McCarty, ends his conditioning stint and bids adieu. At that point it should be very tempting to the parent club to just keep some of the bright lights (Ericsson) in Detroit for the experience instead of languishing in the minors counting down the days to April 12th.

2008 Preliminary Clear Day Roster

1 G Jimmy Howard
2 G Adam Berkhoel
3 D Jonathan Ericsson
4 D Kyle Quincey
5 D Garrett Stafford
6 D Tom Galvin
7 D Jon Insana
8 D Jakub Kindl
9 F Evan McGrath
10 F Randall Gelech
11 F Carl Corazzini
12 F Ryan Oulahen
13 F Mark Cullen
14 F Mattias Ritola
15 F Darren Helm
16 F Jamie Tardif
17 F Francis Lemieux
18 F Tyler Redenbach
19 F
20 F
21 ?
22 ?

That leaves four spots for players like defenseman Cleve Kinley, Jason Jozsa, and Ross Moyer, winger Josef Fojtik and netminder Dan Turple. A case may also be made for wingers Darren McCarty and Mark Hartigan to be named to the roster in the unlikely event the Griffins go far in the playoffs and Detroit gets ousted early, allowing the team to add two proven scorers. The rules allow you to add players in case of injury or NHL call-up and of course to add amateur players at the conclusion of their North American seasons. In the past the team has added Wings prospects like Kindl, Jan Mursak, and Cory Emmerton, as well as free agents like Eric Himelfarb, Scott Parse and Brett Lebda. Not much help is expected in the way of Detroit prospects, as most are with teams expected to go far in their respective league's playoffs (Logan Pyett, Mursak, Emmerton), or still have NCAA eligibility left (Justin Abdelkader), something that would be forfeited by signing with the Griffins. Erie's (OHL) Zach Torquato is the lone exception, playing for a team that is out of the playoffs.