With the graduation of Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Tatar, and Brian Lashoff from the prospects ranks, the Detroit Red Wings have seen the first wave of their youth movement arrive in the NHL. The door has been opened for new prospects to enter the ranks of the Top 20, with Mitch Callahan and Luke Glendening taking full advantage.
Most of the prospects in Detroit’s Top 20 have been enjoying individually successful seasons with the AHL’s Grand Rapids Griffins, who themselves are atop the Midwest Division. A number of prospects on the list have gotten their first taste of NHL action in 2013-14 including Tomas Jurco, Riley Sheahan, Adam Almquist, and Alexey Marchenko. If the other members of this group continue to progress it is simply a matter of time before others get to lace up their skates in the big leagues.
1. (3) Anthony Mantha, RW, 8.0C
Drafted 1st round, 20th overall, 2013
Rarely has the Red Wings system seen a prospect with such prodigious offensive talent. Dogged by accusations of inconsistency in his draft year, Anthony Mantha has silenced many critics with more consistent play in 2013-14. Oh, and his 105 points in 49 games certainly helps his case as well. He has put up video game-like numbers in the QMJHL by utilizing his incredible puck handling, offensive instincts, and accurate shot.
2. (2) Petr Mrazek, G, 8.0C
Drafted 5th round, 141st overall, 2010
While his stats are not as lustrous as they once were, Petr Mrazek still has the raw talent to be an impactful NHL goaltender. He has gotten a taste of NHL play in 2013-14, where his .924 save percentage and 1.64 goals against average are more indicative of his skill than his 1-3 record. Mrazek has also spent time with the Grand Rapids Griffins, where he has .923 save percentage and 2.21 goals against average in 19 appearances.
3. (7) Tomas Jurco, LW, 7.5C
Drafted 2nd round, 35th overall, 2011
It does not take long to see just how skilled Tomas Jurco is when watching him play. The shifty Slovakian forward caught the eye of the Red Wings brass early in the season, and they have promoted him to the NHL twice in 2013-14. He has seven points in 19 NHL games, though at this point in time his pure puck handling ability is more impressive than his points total.
4. (4) Calle Jarnkrok, C, 7.5C
Drafted 2nd round, 51st overall, 2010
A defensively-minded, offensively-gifted center is a valuable commodity, and that is what Detroit has in Calle Jarnkrok. He has the skill to play on both the power play and penalty kill, which he regularly does for the AHL's Grand Rapids Griffins. His 11 goals and 19 assists in 54 games are partially due to adjusting his game to the North American rink, though shooting more might help; Jarnkrok only has 87 shots on net.
5. (6) Dan DeKeyser, D, 7.0B
Signed as a free agent, March 2013
Twelve points in 42 NHL games is not bad, but it is not necessarily something to write home about either. That does not hurt Danny DeKeyser's potential, however, because of how skilled he is defensively. DeKeyser has showed continued growth in 2013-14, with defensive positioning and stick work beyond his years. DeKeyser should have a home in Detroit's top six for season to come.
6. (8) Riley Sheahan, C, 7.0C
Drafted 1st round, 21st overall, 2010
Riley Sheahan has long been thought to have NHL potential, and 2013-14 has been the season that this has been on full display. His 11 points in 18 NHL games have been a pleasant surprise, while his tenaciousness and defensive skill are as advertised. Sheahan proved that he has a skill set that could make him a regular NHL player, and that he is a good fit on either the third or fourth line.
7. (10) Xavier Ouellet, D, 7.0C
Drafted 2nd round, 48th overall, 2011
Another of Detroit's prospects who has seen time in the NHL in 2013-14, Xavier Ouellet has the hockey smarts to one day be a regular in the league. He has gained valuable experience in Grand Rapids as well, being entrusted with ice time on the penalty kill with regularity. That he is playing on special teams as an AHL rookie is impressive, and his three game call-up to the Red Wings speaks to his potential.
8. (9) Ryan Sproul, D, 7.0C
Drafted 2nd round, 55th overall, 2011
Few players in the AHL have a slap shot as powerful as Ryan Sproul's. This is one of his multitude of offensive tools, which includes a great first pass and good offensive instincts. Sproul's defensive game will need to continue to improve, but he has shown growth throughout 2013-14. Sproul should see NHL ice time in the near future if he continues to refine his defensive skills.
9. (12) Teemu Pulkkinen, RW, 7.0C
Drafted 4th round, 111th overall, 2010
No one who has seen Teemu Pulkkinen play would doubt his offensive abilities. His shot has been widely discussed for a number of seasons, while the real question mark in his game has been on the defensive side. Pulkkinen has made strides to being a more complete player in 2013-14. He will need to continue along the trajectory he is on (steadily improving his defense while learning to navigate the difficult areas of the ice) if he wishes to someday make the NHL.
10. (17) Andreas Athanasiou, LW, 7.0C
Drafted 4th round, 110th overall, 2012
If Anthony Mantha was not putting up nearly-incomprehensible numbers, then Andreas Athanasiou would certainly be Detroit's most improved offensive player. Athanasiou has taken his tremendous speed and translated it into offensive results in 2013-14, registering 82 points in 57 games. He should soon find himself in the AHL, where he will likely eventually wind up in a top-six role.
11. (18) Alexey Marchenko, D, 6.5C
Drafted 7th round, 205th overall, 2011
Steady, steady, steady. Alexey Marchenko's game lacks flash, but he more than makes up for it in defensive acumen. Marchenko positions himself well in the defensive zone and has the type of stick skills that causes opposing forwards to worry. Marchenko's game is still developing, but it piqued Detroit's interest so much that he was called up for one game. Marchenko was also named a 2013-14 AHL All-Star.
12. (16) Mattias Backman, D, 6.5C
Drafted 5th round, 146th overall, 2011
Mattias Backman plays the kind of smooth, mistake-free hockey that often goes unnoticed on the score sheet but pays dividends for the team. Backman only has 19 points in 49 SHL games, but he has become a great positional defender and has good passing skills. He is a player in a similar vein to fellow countryman Adam Almquist; though lacking a true calling card their overall game is so good that they should develop into very capable two-way defensemen.
13. (15) Landon Ferraro, C, 6.5C
Drafted 2nd round, 32nd overall, 2009
His offensive numbers may be down in 2013-14 but that does not mean that Landon Ferraro's ice time is. He has the offensive talent (namely good offensive instincts and a willingness to drive the net) to get power play time and the defensive awareness to play on the penalty kill. Ferraro will need to continue to display his ability to play well in different situations if he wishes to become a Red Wing in the near future, as he loses his waiver exempt status in 2014-15.
14. (19) Adam Almquist, D, 6.5C
Drafted 7th round, 210th overall, 2009
If he were stronger, it is very possible that Adam Almquist would already be in the NHL. He has the defensive intelligence to manage well in his own end and an offensive IQ that leads to smart passes and scoring chances for teammates. A consistent knock on Almquist since he was drafted has been the necessity for him to add bulk to his thin frame and that remains his chief area of improvement.
15. (NR) Zach Nastasiuk, RW, 6.5C
Drafted 2nd round, 48th overall, 2013
Zach Nastasiuk was named captain of the Owen Sound Attack for the 2013-14 season, which is demonstrative of more than just his locker room leadership. He plays with great effort and intensity consistently, though he also has some offensive upside. Nastasiuk has recorded 41 points in 53 games and will have at least one more season in the OHL to work on his game before moving up to the AHL's Grand Rapids Griffins.
16. (13) Mattias Janmark, C, 7.0D
Drafted 3rd round, 79th overall, 2013
The Red Wings believed that they were fortunate to get Mattias Janmark in the third round of the 2012 draft, and the 2013-14 season has been an indicator that they were likely correct. Janmark has notched 17 goals and 12 assists in 40 games with AIK of the SHL. He has demonstrated the kind of offensive potential that will make him a prime candidate to make the move to Grand Rapids and begin acclimating to the North American game soon.
17. (NR) Luke Glendening, C, 5.0B
Signed as a free agent, July 2013
If you have ever wondered what can be accomplished in a single year you may want to take a look at Luke Glendening. Once considered a fringe AHL player, Glendening has now worked his way up to a playing consistently on Detroit's fourth line. He plays physically, never backing down from puck battles in the corner or going to the front of the net. This physicality has ingratiated Glendening to Detroit head coach Mike Babcock, which ultimately may mean he is more than a temporary name on the Red Wings' roster.
18. (NR) Mitch Callahan, RW, 6.0C
Drafted 6th round, 180th overall, 2009
Few expected Mitch Callahan to be more than a one-dimensional tough guy, but fast forward to 2013-14 and he is a physical forward with a gritty scoring touch. Callahan has 21 goals on the year, mainly because he is willing to pay the price to score from the difficult areas on the ice. Callahan may see NHL time, but if it is going to be in a Red Wings sweater it may have to be soon; he is no longer waiver exempt in 2014-15.
19. (11) Martin Frk, RW, 7.0D
Drafted 2nd round, 49th overall, 2012
Playing with incredible talents like Nathan MacKinnon (COL) and Jonathan Drouin (TBL) may have been good for Martin Frk's game but it may also have inflated Frk's point total (and expectations). Frk has had a difficult transition to the AHL. He was moved down to the ECHL after it became apparent that Frk needed to work on his skating and defense away from the AHL. Frk has since worked his way back to the AHL but needs to rediscover his scoring touch.
20. (20) Nick Jensen, D, 6.0C
Drafted 5th round, 150th overall, 2009
The 2013-14 season has been a tale of what may have been for Nick Jensen. Injured in a prospects camp brawl with Tyler Bertuzzi, Jensen lost a significant portion of the season. He has since recovered from his shoulder injury and has won a spot in the Grand Rapids lineup. His skating skill is still intact, but the jury is still out regarding Jensen's transition to the AHL.