As nothing is currently happening in the NHL regarding the probable lockout (NOOOO!!!) or the Wings signing another defenseman, let’s take a second and look at some Red Wings prospects. I figure this is a good analysis to do, plus, anything that gets me talking about Gustav Nyquist is ALWAYS a good thing! Nyquist rules.
Let’s break down the forwards, defense, and goaltending and I will give you my thoughts on what players have a chance at making the big club in the next couple of years. I will just tell you up front that I have not seen these players play a whole lot of games. I’ve been to a few Grand Rapids Griffins games the past couple of seasons and I’ve watched some CHL (Canadian Juniors) games on the NHL Network. I tried watching some of the World Championships, but the online streams were weak and all virus-like, so hard to judge based on that. Oh well. Let’s get on with it!
GUSTAV NYQUIST – My objective analysis: Nyquist rules so much and he’s awesome and amazing at hockey. Here’s his first NHL goal:
(If you want to see a breakdown of that by yours truly, click here) Nyquist looks like Pavel Datsyuk circa 2002. He’s a little cautious out there and doesn’t want to make a mistake, but when he turns his brain off, yeah, silky mitts to the extreme. Now, I’m not saying Nyquist will have Datsyuk hands in 10 years, but he definitely has a chance to be a top line player in the NHL in the very near future. Nyquist rules.
TOMAS TATAR – He is affectionately known at THE SOUSE by me and my friends and Tatar himself. If Nyquist/Datsyuk are “East/West” players, Tatar is a “North/South” player. Based on the Griffins games I’ve been to, I have no problem calling him the hardest working player on the team. His skill level is good, but where he excels is hard work and knowing where to be at all times. He plays in all situations, which is good for a young player. He also plays with an “Edge” meaning he isn’t afraid to make or take a hit to make a play. Check out his first NHL goal to see what I’m talking about:
(Once again, check out my breakdown of that goal here) Hard work and knowing where to be on the ice. Goal. Boom. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like Tatar will be in NHL this season. With 16 forwards already on the roster, Tatar will be the first call up this season. Stupid, stupid Samuelsson. I was thinking Tatar would replace Hudler on the Hank/Fil line. Not quite the hands, but he’s a much better skater than Huds and that could have been sweet. Souse rules.
Tomas Jurco – Datsyukian part 2: Dekes from a Slovakian (Dream Theater puns FTW!). We’ve all seen the Youtube clips. Wait, you haven’t? Check this out:
You know, I think the shootout stinks, but I have certain feelings about seeing Jurco and Datsyuk go back to back in the shootout. Ohhh… anyway. Check out Jurco’s stats. He’s been improving each year. Take special note of his playoff stats. This season, he had 29 points in 16 games, almost 2 points a game. I know it’s only Junior, but still, that’s incredible. I can’t wait to watch him in Training Camp (if there is one…come on NHL/NHLPA, get your Sh!t together!). I have a feeling he could be in the NHL with two seasons. Just a hunch.
Other future forwards include:
Riley Sheahan – possible 3rd/4th line center. Not a big offensive threat, but has a big body and is a good skater.
Joakim Andersson – Same as above, only Swedish.
Teemu Pulkkinen – Pure Finnish goal scorer. Played well in the World Juniors. Had an impressive prospect camp and will be playing another year in Finland.
Calle Jarnkrok – A young Zetterberg. Will play next season in Sweden.
There are a few more, but won’t be ready for three or more seasons, so we have a little bit more time to analyze them.
Brendan Smith – Yes. Yes. So much yes. He got some games in last season, which is huge, and I think he could end up being a Calder candidate (if Nyquist decides to not get 100 points this season ahem). Let’s watch Smith first goal (with my analysis here):
Awesome. Smith has two full seasons of professional experience, so it’s time he plays an important role. He’ll probably start the season as the fifth or sixth defenseman, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he ends up being with Kronwall on the top pair towards the second half of the season. Smith also plays with an edge and isn’t afraid to throw down, as shown below:
To summarize: Brendan Smith rules and I can’t wait to watch him THIS SEASON on the Wings.
Other defenseman: Uh…oops. As far as I can tell, there really are no other defenseman in the Wings organization that are even close to being NHL ready. Xavier Ouellet and Ryan Sproul are young players who I’ve heard good things about, but they’ll be going back to their Junior teams, which means they won’t be ready for two or so seasons. Max Nicastro played three years at Boston College, but hasn’t played in a long time due to legal issues (cleared of sexual assault; won’t get into my personal feelings on this here). Obviously, unless he comes out of nowhere, he’s not going to even get a sniff of the NHL this season. This leaves Brian Lashoff. He’s spent two season with the Griffins/Walleye. He’s been pretty “meh” in the games I’ve seen him play. Oh well. What I’m saying here is that not only do the Wings have minimal defensive depth on the big club, their young prospects on the blue line are Smith and….Smith. I love Smith, but…yikes.
Goaltending: With Howard and Gustavsson taking the two jobs with Detroit this season, I don’t expect to see anyone else crack the big club. Joey MacDonald will be the first call up if he’s still with the team (he has asked for a trade). Petr Mrazek looks to be the real deal. He was amazing at the World Junior tournament this season. He will spend at least one season in the AHL, but wouldn’t surprise me to see him with the Wings in a season or two. Tom McCollum hasn’t performed very well in his seasons in the minors. He’s bounced between the AHL and ECHL. It wouldn’t shock me if the Wings released him after this season or signed him to an AHL contract only. Same goes for Jordan Pearce. Both could be solid minor league players, but unless there is some major improvement, I don’t expect to see either of them in the NHL.
There you have it. Way too many words on some future Red Wings. You know the drill – if I missed someone or if you have some different thoughts/opinions, yell at me on the Twitter machine (@KevinN37). Until next time…
SAVE US BRENDAN SMITH!