If you follow Bill Roose or the Saginaw Spirit on Twitter, you'll already know that he put out a tweet announcing a newly acquired goaltender for the Grand Rapids Griffins:
#RedWings goalie prospect Jake Paterson has joined AHL Grand Rapids.— The Wheel Deal (@Bill_Roose) March 31, 2014
Detroit Red Wings 2012 80th overall pick, Jake Paterson will be joining the Griffins effective immediately. Grand Rapids is pretty much set with their tandem of Petr Mrazek and Tom McCollum, so Jake will likely take the role of a 'black ace.' He will practice and travel with the team, and get a feel for the life of pro-style hockey. Jake started in 45 games for the OHL's Saginaw Spirit and came in with a record of 24-18-2. While his stats don't exactly jump out at you, it's important to remember that Saginaw was a bubble team.. They weren't very good. After seeing them play a few times this season, it's safe to say that they made a push for the playoffs because of Jake's abilities in net. Jake went 1-2-2 in the playoffs against a heavily favored Erie Otters. To put the matchup in perspective for you, Saginaw's goal-differential for the season was +6 and Erie's was +142. So yeah, BIG difference in teams there. Jake also appeared in the World Junior Championships for Team Canada and was named the initial starter for his team. Jake went 1-1-0 before being pulled for Zach Fucale. Team Canada ended up losing the tournament.
If you're unfamiliar with Jake Paterson, as goalie prospects are always easy to overlook, one of my first articles on WIIM was a report and interview with Jake when he came to town to play the Plymouth Whalers. Check out the article here!
All in all, Jake is an upgrade for Grand Rapids. Tom McCollum has had a pretty good bounce-back this season, but his ship has sailed for Detroit. He is no longer on contract with the Wings, and I can't imagine Grand Rapids will keep him around much longer. There is a chance Jake could return to the OHL next season, but at 19 years old and with him already having signed his entry-level contract, I imagine he will push for a spot. With Petr Mrazek having a career season in the AHL, I imagine he is ready to be promoted to full-time backup for Jimmy Howard next season. With that happening, Jake will have a serious shot at getting the starting job in Grand Rapids. If it comes down to it, I have a lot of confidence in Jake for competing against Jared Coreau and Tom McCollum.
I think goalie prospects are the hardest to gauge whether they will be good or not. That's why you never really see goalies taken very early in the draft. Some are great, and some flop.. Also, some can be just okay as well. We won't really know how Jake will pan out until he starts shouldering some starts, which I can't imagine will happen until next season. In the mean time, it's good to have him finally in the system and getting reps in practice.