Red Wings commitment to young players seals the deal for Northern Michigan’s Coreau
MARQUETTE – Former Northern Michigan University goaltender Jared Coreau says he is not spiteful and has no intentions of hunting down those who questioned him in the past.
Yet, a day after the Detroit Red Wings officially announced his signing, Coreau couldn’t help but think of the four junior A, two junior B and one midget AAA teams that once told him he wasn’t good enough.
“I really am speechless. It still hasn’t sunk in,” Coreau said Thursday about signing his first professional contract. “The biggest thing was looking back on anyone that ever doubted me or when I was cut seven times in one year. Things like that, it just really, it was just a victory.”
Ironically, seven National Hockey League franchises were in the bidding for Coreau’s services after the Wildcats’ season came to a close in Ann Arbor via a CCHA first-round sweep courtesy of Michigan.
In the end, the Red Wings beat out the Winnipeg Jets, as well as the New York Rangers, San Jose Sharks, Chicago Blackhawks, Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers for the 21-year-old, 6-foot-5, 200-pound NMU junior goalie from Perth, Ontario.
“What did it for me was the richness in terms of culture, heritage, the history and everything,” Coreau said about Detroit.
“My parents and I are extremely happy. I’d like to thank Detroit for giving me this opportunity. I know this is where the real work starts. It starts now.”
Coreau received a three-year entry level contract that pays him $925,000 per season in the NHL and $72,500 per season if he is with the Red Wing’s AHL affiliate, the Grand Rapids Griffins. The deal also included a $92,500 signing bonus.
He’ll join the Wings on Monday and remain in Detroit through the end of the regular season. At that time, the Red Wings will either send Coreau to Grand Rapids or keep him on the roster for the postseason. He could join the Griffins after the Wings are eliminated from the Stanley Cup playoffs, should the Griffins still be alive in the AHL playoffs.
“The organization is a great fit,” NMU head coach Walt Kyle said. “He had a number of opportunities.
“He and his family advisor sorted through those and really, the money was all the same, basically. What they were looking for was the best opportunity.”
The Red Wings recent commitment to developing and awarding ice time to young players and the attention paid to those prospects directly by head coach Mike Babcock and general manager Ken Holland, among others, is what put Coreau in red and white.
Grand Rapids is only two hours West of Detroit on Interstate 96, making it easy for Red Wings coaches, scouts and management to keep on eye on the franchises’ future. That’s a stark difference from a franchise like Winnipeg, whose AHL affiliate in St. Johns, New Foundland and Labrador is nearly 3,000 miles away.
“From when I was (in Detroit) on a visit, the interaction between the AHL and NHL is unbelievable,” Coreau said. “The coaches and scouts are in the AHL watching them play all the time. It’s going to be good.”
The Red Wings’ recent dedication to rebuilding via the farm system put Babcock and Holland in hot water with some fans on Wednesday who expected to hear more than just Coreau’s name come up at the NHL trade deadline.
While Coreau’s signing was popular with Wings fans in the Upper Peninsula and for those who follow college hockey, specifically the CCHA, others were hoping to hear the name of a top-four defenseman or top-six forward.
“I never ever felt like we were really going to do anything, to be honest with you,” Babcock said Wednesday while addressing the Detroit media. “I kinda like what we got going. I like the direction we’re going in. We have some kids that are really coming (along). We’re trying to figure out who are the best kids to help us be successful.”
“There were a couple of players we had some interest in,” said Holland at the Joe on Wednesday after the trade deadline. “We didn’t get it done. From a depth standpoint, we have young kids that have played. We’re going to go with the kids.”
Including Coreau, the Red Wings now have six goaltenders all under the age of 30, plus they own the rights to 18-year-old Saginaw Spirit (OHL) goalie Jake Peterson, who was drafted in the third round, No. 80 overall in 2012.
Jimmy Howard, 29, and Jonas Gustavsson, 28, are in Detroit, but Howard is an unrestricted free agent after this season and Gustavsson is the same in 2014.
In Grand Rapids, Thomas McCollum, 23, is a restricted free agent after this season while 21-year-old Peter Mrazek is signed through 2015 when he becomes a restricted free agent.
Former Notre Dame goalie Jordan Pierce is backstopping the Wings’ ECHL affiliate, the Toledo Walleye, but he becomes an unrestricted free agent after this season and according to reports, will retire to pursue a medical career.
“They certainly have opportunity and (Coreau) will be given every opportunity to grow as a goalie and I have every confidence that he will,” Kyle said. “They are going to do everything they can to bring him along and in my opinion, someday he’ll be playing goal for Detroit.”
Matt Wellens can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 252. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/mattwellens