Detroit signs eight for depth

gr_200.jpgThe Detroit Red Wings, parent club of the AHL’s Grand Rapids Griffins, announced on Monday the signings of eight players to contracts, including left wing Matt Ellis, who led the Griffins with 26 goals during the 2006-07 season.

“These players are valuable acquisitions for the Red Wings organization,” said Detroit assistant general manager Jim Nill. “In addition to greatly upgrading our team’s depth, we expect them to vie for a spot on the Red Wings’ roster during training camp.”

Ellis, who signed a two-year deal, made his NHL debut in 2006-07 appearing in a total 16 games for the Red Wings. He also had 49 points (26g, 23a) in 65 games while serving as team captain for Grand Rapids, and tied for the AHL lead with five shorthanded goals.

Ellis, 25, has spent the last four seasons with the Griffins, recording 69 goals and 84 assists for 153 points in 282 games.

Joining the Wings for the first time are forwards Carl Corazzini, Mark Cullen, Randall Gelech and Mark Hartigan; defensemen Brad Ference and Garrett Stafford; and goaltender Adam Berkhoel. Gelech signed a two-year deal, while the other six signed one-year agreements.

Corazzini set or matched career highs with 28 goals, 29 assists and 57 points in 68 games for the AHL’s Norfolk Admirals in 2006-07. He also tallied one assist in seven NHL appearances with Chicago.

In 359 career AHL matches, Corazzini has recorded 94 goals and 94 assists for 188 points.

Cullen led the Philadelphia Phantoms with 36 assists and 52 points in 56 games last season, and also skated in three NHL games with the parent Flyers. In 299 career AHL contests, Cullen has amassed 87 goals and 152 assists for 239 points.

Cullen won a Calder Cup championship as a rookie with the Houston Aeros in 2003, and was the recipient of the AHL’s Fred T. Hunt Award for sportsmanship, determination and dedication to hockey in 2005-06.

Gelech spent his first three pro seasons in the Phoenix Coyotes organization, totaling 82 points (41g, 41a) in 230 AHL games. In 2006-07, Gelech set career highs with 17 goals, 17 assists and 34 points for San Antonio.

Hartigan registered 28 goals and 29 assists for 57 points in 59 AHL games between Syracuse and Portland last season. The 2006 AHL All-Star also recorded three points (1g, 2a) in 12 NHL games for Columbus and Anaheim, and skated in one postseason contest for the 2007 Stanley Cup champion Ducks.

A veteran of 301 career AHL games, Hartigan has tallied 131 goals and 152 assists for 283 points over the last five seasons.

Ference, a first-round draft choice by Vancouver in 1997, notched three goals, 23 assists and 210 penalty minutes in 73 AHL games for Omaha in 2006-07, and also appeared in five NHL games for Calgary. In 245 career AHL contests, Ference has totaled 81 points (13g, 68a) and 776 PIM.

Ference has also played 250 NHL games, recording 34 points (4g, 30a) and 565 PIM for Calgary, Phoenix and Florida.

Stafford spent the last four seasons with San Jose’s AHL affiliates, recording 40 goals and 110 assists for 150 points in 298 games. Last year, he had 41 points (11g, 30a) in 77 contests for Worcester

Stafford was a Second Team AHL All-Star and an All-Rookie Team selection in 2003-04, when he compiled 12 goals and 34 assists for 46 points in 73 games for Cleveland.

Berkhoel has spent most of the last three seasons in the ECHL after a successful career at the University of Denver, including an NCAA championship as a senior in 2004. Berkhoel made six AHL appearances with Rochester last season, going 2-3-0 with a 3.22 goals-against average and an .899 save percentage.

In 18 career AHL games, Berkhoel shows a record of 5-10-0.