The hypetrain will have to slow down a bit on the Red Wing’s 73rd-overall pick in 2015, Vili Saarijarvi, with the Grand Rapids Griffins sending him down to the organization’s ECHL affiliate, the Toledo Walleye. With Saarijarvi, Zach Nastasiuk and Patrick McCarron were also sent down Wednesday afternoon.
Saarijarvi is no stranger to the Walleye, as he played five games for them after his 2015-16 season with the Flint Firebirds of the OHL. Netting one goal and three assists in that time show his offensive weapons that became more developed in the following 18 months. Confidence from his stellar offensive 2016-17 season with the Mississauga Steelheads (11 goals and 31 points in 34 games) should give this whole organization something to look forward from the right-handed Finnish defenceman.
This move down to the ECHL should provide the Red Wing’s fourth best prospect Saarijarvi with more much-needed ice time for his development. In the Griffins season-opening weekend, he was a healthy scratch for both games so this move is somewhat justified.
Similar to Saarijarvi, Zach Nastasiuk was also a healthy scratch for both of the Griffin’s games this past weekend. The 22-year-old winger spent most of the year last year in Toledo. He scored 13 goals and 34 points in 47 games for the Walleye last season.
First-year pro and undrafted defenceman Patrick McCarron was also sent down to the Walleye. Spending the last four years playing at Cornell University, he played 123 games and scored 12 goals and 50 points. Thirty-five of those points came in just last season for the Big Red.
This move will hopefully provide some more development for Saarijarvi, offensively and defensively. But four points in five games for the Walleye 18 months ago should justify a point-per-game expectation.