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Grading the Red Wings’ Rookies at the Halfway Point


February 1, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Red Wings center

Damien Brunner

(24) skates with the puck against the St. Louis Blues at Joe Louis Arena. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

With the news yesterday that Tomas Tatar was being sent back to the Grand Rapids Griffins and Gustav Nyquist was being called up in his place, it got me to thinking:

How have the Red Wings rookies been doing this season?

In a shortened season (which we’re all sick of hearing), every game counts. With how many injuries the Red Wings ranks have sustained, the team has relied heavily on their rookies making an impact. Let’s get to it!


Petr Mrazek – B+

He only played two games, and one of them was a solid effort that made me think he was a mix of Chris Osgood in his prime and Dominik Hasek. It was honestly a comfort to see someone so solid in net that’s in our pipeline. It will be exciting to see him play a few more games to see how he shapes up.


Brian Lashoff – B+

Lashoff was called up due to way too many injuries to our standard defensemen. He did not make much of an impact at the start, but if you compare where he started and where he is now, it’s a very impressive improvement. He’ll be central to the defensive future of this team.

March 10, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Red Wings defenseman Brendan Smith (2) dives for a loose puck in front of Columbus Blue Jackets goalie Sergei Bobrovsky (72) during the game at the Joe Louis Arena. Columbus won 3-2 in a shoot out. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

Brendan Smith – B

Smith has been hailed as many, many things while in college and in Grand Rapids. So it comes as no surprise that with all the hype, he hasn’t exactly lived up to what fans expected. Then again, it didn’t help that he went down with a shoulder injury for a while. Like Lashoff, he’ll be a solid defenseman in time and has looked much better as of late. Don’t let one season ruin your expectation (maybe just let them be grounded a little).


Joakim Andersson – B+

He didn’t do much in his first games on the Wings’ roster. But take a look at the past five games or so. He’s put up a handful of goals and assists and brings a bit of speed to his game. …Which makes me miss Darren Helm, but that’s another story.

Damien Brunner – A

Brunner may have been hyped up more than Brendan Smith, but only because he had such a charismatic connection with Henrik Zetterberg in the Swiss league. The concern was that it wouldn’t carry over to the NHL, but after two games, the floodgates opened. Brunner started out as a point-per-game player, but has slowed down of late. He currently has 18 points in 24 games, which is still pretty dang good for a rookie.

Cory Emmerton – B

He has been one of those players who is called up for a handful of games every season, yet doesn’t seem to have a solid place on the future roster. This season may have changed that. He has been a solid grinder and could easily take the place of Justin Abdelkader if need be.

Jan Mursak – C

Much like Nyquist’s grade below, it’s difficult to really give any sort of grade. Mursak only played two games on the Wings’ roster and has 0 points with a +/- of 0.

Gustav Nyquist – C

See Mursak’s first sentence above. Give Nyquist a chance, though, and he’ll be just fine. Fans have wanted him to be called up this entire season (though sending down Tatar doesn’t make a lot of sense…). He’s capable of making an impact. We’ve all seen it. He’s that eerie mix of Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk that makes us all far too happy.

Tomas Tatar – A

Tatar has been in the same boat as Emmerton – getting a few games each season, but nothing consistent. He has played sixteen games this season and has proved that he’s here to stay with four goals and three assists. Which is why fans found it surprising that he was sent back down to Grand Rapids and Nyquist called up. Tatar has shown great improvement from his last appearances, and it will be nice to see him have a spot on the roster in upcoming seasons.