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Clear Day 2009 - Tough Decisions In Store
Who to keep becomes central question...
By Jason Kasiorek

Wednesday, March 11th at three o'clock PM marks the AHL's annual clear day roster freeze. This is the day that American Hockey League team's must finalize their playoff rosters, submitting a list of 22 skaters eligible for the post season. Their are a few exceptions to that rule as teams are allowed to add players at the conclusion of their Junior seasons, and they can add players in an emergency situtation to replace injured players or NHL call-ups. The Griffins certainly have their share of the latter, adding to the complexity of the final decisions.

Darren Helm, Jonathan Ericsson and Ville Leino have made strong cases to be on the parent Red Wings playoff roster, and head coach Mike Babcock has essentially said they will be recalled. The Griffins also face a few tough choices in deciding which of their injured players will be ready to go in time to be factors in the playoffs. Jimmy Howard and Tom Galvin are rumored to be back back fairly soon, but gritty wingers Frankie Lemieux (undetermined) and Jamie Tardif (3-4 weeks) will be cutting it close. There is also the prospect of GM Bob McNamara adding a few pieces before the deadline that will further shift the lineup.

2009 Preliminary Clear Day Roster:

1 G Daniel Larsson
2 G Jimmy Howard ?(assuming he is healthy enough to play)
3 D Garrett Stafford
4 D Jakub Kindl
5 D Sergei Kolosov
6 D Tom Galvin ?(assuming he is healthy enough to play)
7 D Jason Jozsa ?
8 D Logan Pyett ?
9 D Jonathan Ericsson ?
10 F Cory Emmerton
11 F Evan McGrath
12 F Jan Mursak
13 F Ryan Oulahen
14 F Frankie Pare
15 F Mattias Ritola
16 F Justin Abdelkader
17 F Darren Haydar
18 F Aaron Gagnon
19 F Aaron Downey
20 F Frankie Lemieux ?
21 F Darren Helm ?
22 F Ville Leino ?

The defense is the one area in the greatest state of flux. Beyond the top three on the list, Ericsson's probable absence leaves a big hole here. Provided Galvin can return in time, that leaves Jozsa, Pyett and Peterson as regular players. An upgrade is needed here and rumors persist that McNamara is working with Dallas to bring in another prospect. Two interesting names on Dallas' list are blueliner Ivan Vishnevskiy, playing for Peoria (not expected to make the playoffs), and veteran defenseman Dan Jancevski (+22) who is logging big minutes for the Hamilton Bulldogs. Another possibility is the addition of junior rearguard Brian Lashoff, who could be signed to a PTO after his junior season ends, as his team will not make the postseason.

Up front, even with the losses of Helm and Leino, things don't look too bad. Ten regulars should be in the lineup, and Lemieux's probable return makes eleven. Talk out of Dallas is that Landon Wilson could be returned to GR if they can work out getting him through waivers, potentially adding another big gun to the lineup. Center Brent Radeke could be added as his junior season is nearly finished giving the Griffins a little more depth and energy. A couple of other dark horses to join the postseason roster are super Swede's Dick Axelsson and Johan Ryno, both expected to start next season in North America. The offensively gifted duo would be a huge boost, and help fill the rolls vacated by Helm and Leino.