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Detroit Red Wings Top 25 Prospects

 10/08/2015 - 05:00

Detroit Red Wings Top 25 Prospects

With another training camp in the books, it’s time to re-assess the Wings top prospects. The Red Wings are absolutely loaded at forward, but they don’t have any world class defensive prospects. Now that Mrazek has graduated, they’re also a little short on goaltending prospects.

  1. Andreas Athanasiou – Has the speed to be a disruptive third or fourth liner. But he’s got the hands and skills to be a top six forward. If he learns to slow his game down in the offensive zone he’s got superstar potential.
  2. Dylan Larkin – Has the quickness, vision and hands to be a top six player in the NHL. He made the team out of camp and became the first teen since Jiri Fischer to make the team. Already being pegged as a future captain, so that should say something about the character people believe he has.
  3. Anthony Mantha – Speed, shot and size plus the patience of a playmaker. There will always be questions about his intensity or consistency, but he’s got 40-goal potential.
  4. Teemu Pulkkinen – Small, feisty forward with one of the best shot’s in all hockey. Like Mantha, he’s got 40-goal potential. But he lack’s Mantha’s speed and size. Despite his effort, he’s never going to be an elite two-way guy.
  5. Evgeny Svechnikov – Has size and offensive instincts. Might lack the speed to be a truly top flight NHL player. Didn’t stand out much in the pre-season scrimmages or games. Has to work on his skating and defensive game. Wings want him at center, and given that Athanasiou, Larkin, Sheahan and Glendening are at center, one wonders if he might be best as a big skilled winger.
  6. Alexey Marchenko – Strong and smooth, calm and collected. Marchenko’s best assets are his IQ and his relaxed demeanor. He lacks speed, which will prevent him from being a top-flight defenseman. But he should top out as a strong, two-way second pairing defenseman.
  7. Tyler Bertuzzi – Showing a lot more offensive hockey sense than many ever expected. He’s sanding some of the rough edges off his game, which may or may not be a good thing, because the Wings could use a skilled player with an edge. Upside is probably that of a middle six winger, like Abdelkader.
  8. Xavier Ouellet – If this guy had Jensen’s speed or Marchenko’s size, he’d be a potential all-star. Like Marchenko, his best asset is between the ears. He’s also got an edge to his game. But despite that edge, he has trouble with big NHL forwards in front of the goal and in the corners. He’s got some offensive ability inside the blueline. He’s got upside as a top four defenseman and should have a solid NHL career.
  9. Ville Saarijarvi – Small, mobile defenseman with an offensive flare. It’s tough for small D play in the NHL. But he’s got the speed for it. If he makes it, it’s as an offensive specialist.
  10. Ryan Sproul – Has a great shot and can work the powerplay. But he gets lost in the defensive zone. With his size and mobility, maybe he should go the Brent Burns route.
  11. Christoffer Ehn – Has size, skating and skill. Needs to fill out. He’s got a lot of work to do and he’ll be project, but he has top six upside and the physical skills to match.
  12. Axel Holmstrom – Quickly rose on many rankings after a great rookie campaign in Sweden. Holmstrom has solid offensive instincts, but lacks in the skating department. He’s got a shot at a middle-six career. But it’s no sure thing.
  13. Adam Marsh – Like Athansiou, this kid fell in the draft due, in large part, to off-ice issues. He’s got a sniper’s mentality. Keep an eye on him. He could be the next 7th round steal.
  14. Jake Paterson – He should press Tom McCollum for the starting job this year and eventually get a look as a backup goalie in the NHL. But he’s got a long way to go before he gets that look. And there are no guarantees.
  15. Nick Jensen – Always seems to impress in training camp. He’s a terrific skater and unafraid of joining the rush. But he’s weak in the corners and in front of the net, where his below-average size and strength are hindrances. He’s getting up there in age. He should catch on somewhere as a depth defenseman at some point.
  16. LM Aubry – Keeps hanging around. He’s got size. He skates pretty well. And he’s learning to be a good 4th line center. He’s going to get a job in the NHL one day and has a good shot at keeping it.
  17. Tomas Nosek – Older center with some size and two-way ability. He’s a little like Nestrasil in that he was two-way ability but has some issues with skating. He’s probably more defensive than Nestrasil, but not as talented offensively 
  18. Zach Nastasiuk – A big, fairly mobile, two-way forward with leadership abilities. Nastasiuk might have upside as a third line winger. Known for a strong work ethic. Sounds like a bigger, but somewhat slower Glendening.
  19. Marek Tvrdon – Had a bounce back year last year in Grand Rapids. Injuries and other issues have foiled his career, but he’s still got the size, skating and skill to build an NHL career for himself. He has middle six potential. If he was more assertive about taking the puck to the net, he’d be ranked higher.
  20. Dominic Turgeon – A big, smart two-way center in juniors. He’ll get a contract. Needs to work on his skating to ever be an NHL center.
  21. James de Haas – Has quietly continued to improve at Clarkson University. He’s got size and mobility. He’s not an offensive superstar. He’s not physical. He could develop in that Dekeyser mold. He could be signed at the end of his junior year, but the Wings have a lot of defensemen in the system. Detroit might wait until after his senior year, which would be risky.
  22. Julius Vahatalo – 6’5 forward is a project pick. He’s got a lot of developing to do. But with his size and some apparent skill, he’s got possibilities to play up and down a lineup.
  23. Martin Frk – Skating and consistency and lack of opportunity have prevented Frk from developing into the second line goal-scorer the Wings envisioned. Time is running out for Frk. This season may be his last in the organization.
  24. Robbie Russo – Free agent two-way defenseman with a right-handed shot. Russo made huge strides as a senior at Notre Dame. Hard to see how he gets much time in Grand Rapids this year. But with next year’s waiver wire looming large, there should be space in Grand Rapids. He could be a solid defenseman one day. He’ll need to prove himself for a couple years in the ECHL and AHL.
  25. Joe Hicketts – Has the skill and the brains of an NHL defenseman. But there aren’t many 5’8 defenseman in the big show. He’s already signed and will be in Grand Rapids next year. He’s going to have to prove a lot of people wrong.
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Tran Longmoore
Tran Longmoore is the operator of RedWingsNow. He is editor, publisher and founder of The Saline Post. He is also founder of Michigan Ball Hockey.

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