The 2010-11 season was one of the last standout seasons in a long line of playoff seasons for the Detroit Red Wings. Keep in mind, this was prior to the realignment that resulted in the current divisional format, so the Detroit Red Wings were (somewhat unfairly) still in the Western Conference.
That year, they were the class of the Central Division, finishing third in the conference with 104 points behind only San Jose (105) and Vancouver (117). That Red Wings team was veteran-laden, as evidenced by their top scorers. Henrik Zetterberg once again led the team in scoring, followed by future Hall of Famer Nicklas Lidstrom.
Despite their regular season success, they would be thwarted in the second round by Pacific Division champion San Jose in seven games.
At the 2011 NHL Draft, the Red Wings took part in a flurry of activity that resulted in several first round picks being traded. The Red Wings dealt theirs, 24th overall, to the Ottawa Senators for a pair of second round picks (35th and 48th overall). The Red Wings then made nine selections on the day, many of whom now reside on the AHL’s Grand Rapids Griffins roster.
The Red Wings’ first pick in 2011, Tomas Jurco was a finesse winger with decent size and skating ability that possessed hands that could do anything. Jurco has been the feature of several trick-shot/stick-handling videos online. He has the kind of skill level that could compete with anyone when it comes to his puckhandling.
Unfortunately, sticking in the NHL hasn’t been so easy. In parts of three seasons, Jurco has logged 143 regular season games as well as another 10 playoff games. He has managed just 15 goals and 39 points over that span, being sent down to the AHL for spells two of the last three seasons. His best year was 2014-15, when he managed to be in the lineup for 63 games, posting 15 assists and 18 points.
At 23 years old, it still seems as though Jurco’s best days are ahead of him. He has all the talent to be a success at the NHL level, he just needs to put it all together. Jurco will get more opportunities going forward and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him stick in Detroit for good.
2nd round, 48th overall: Xavier Ouellet, D, Montreal Juniors (QMJHL)
NHL Games: 30
The second of the aforementioned second-round picks acquired from the Ottawa Senators, Xavier Ouellet has seen slower development, but appears to be on track to be a regular for the Red Wings in the very near future.
Considered an offensive defenseman when he was drafted out of the Montreal Juniors, Ouellet has since developed into a more well-rounded defenseman. He always possessed excellent skating and offensive ability, but he has managed to work on his defensive game enough to earn 30 games over parts of the last three seasons with Detroit.
Ouellet continues to get better and better in the AHL, hitting career-highs in goals (four), assists (25) and points (29) in 2015-16. He could see regular action in Detroit as soon as 2016-17, but shouldn’t have to wait much longer to get his shot.
The third and final of the Red Wings’ second round picks in 2011, Ryan Sproul is similar in some respects to Ouellet. Though he is much bigger at 6’4″ and not quite the skater Ouellet is, Sproul was very much an offensive defenseman coming out of junior.
Since turning pro, Sproul has shown up-and-down progress. He had a very good debut in 2013-14, earning a one-game stint in Detroit, before regressing the following season. Thankfully, he had a breakout 2015-16 season, registering career-highs in goals (12), assists (23) and points (35) in 75 games for the Griffins.
Sproul is considered the best defensive prospect in the Detroit system, so it should be just a matter of time before he gets his shot at a regular spot for the Red Wings. A more well-rounded defender than when he turned pro, Sproul has the size and skills to be a top-four defender at the NHL level.
With their third round pick, the Red Wings took 6-foot, 196-pound Alan Quine out of Peterborough of the OHL. The report on Quine coming out of the OHL was that of a two-way center with strong scoring ability, as evidenced by his 30-goal 2012-13 season.
Quine never signed with Detroit, instead re-entering the draft in 2013 where he was selected in the sixth round by the New York Islanders. Quine then signed a three-year, entry-level deal that summer.
A strong skater with excellent speed and quickness, Quine has shown the ability to score with consistency in the AHL, potting 42 goals over the last two seasons for the Bridgeport Sound Tigers and getting into 10 playoff games for the Islanders this season, scoring five points – including a double-overtime winner.
He still needs to bulk up and add strength if he hopes to produce on the next level, but he has the speed and hustle to take himself further.
It is easy to see why the Red Wings tabbed Slovakian winger Marek Tvrdon with their fourth-round pick. At 6’2, 200 lbs., he came with NHL-ready size and had the frame to be your typical power forward. Not only that, but he played with a bit of an edge and showed promising offensive ability during his time with Vancouver of the WHL.
Unfortunately for Tvrdon, the last three seasons were a struggle. He was unable to keep steady footing at the AHL level, posting 29 points in 53 games over parts of the past three seasons. Tvrdon found himself reassigned to the Toledo Walleye of the ECHL on several occasions, showing that deft scoring touch each time. But with just one AHL game this season, the writing was on the wall.
The demotions to Toledo were enough to sour Tvrdon. He has since returned to his home country, joining HC Slovan Bratislava of the KHL.
5th round, 145th overall: Philippe Hudon, RW, Choate Rosemary Hall (CT-HS)
NHL Games: 0
Like many others out of the high school system, Philippe Hudon was a guess selection on the part of the Red Wings. Possessing good size at that level, there was a hope that he could be a Milan Lucic-type power forward in the future. His skating and finesse were lacking, but the tools seemed to be there for a project pick.
Originally committed to Cornell University, Hudon instead spent three seasons with Victoriaville of the QMJHL but failed to earn a contract from the Red Wings. Rather than pursue a minor league pro track, Hudon has since returned to college in Canada, suiting up for Concordia University over the past two seasons.
Mattias Backman was made part of the Red Wings organization with the pick immediately following the selection of Hudon. It is clear why the Red Wings took a chance on him: he plays a calm, smart game on the back end while displaying good potential offensive skills. Though he has good size at 6’2″, he doesn’t play a physical game.
Despite returning to Sweden in 2014, Backman remained part of the Red Wings prospect system until an early 2015 trade sent him in a package to the Dallas Stars for winger Erik Cole. Since then, Backman enjoyed a productive 2015-16 season, setting career-highs in goals (eight), assists (24) and points (32) in his first full AHL season.
The Red Wings took another shot on a big project defenseman late in the 2011 draft, tabbing the 6’4″ Richard Nedomlel with the 175th pick overall. Unlike most of the top prospects in the Red Wing system on defense, Nedomlel is nothing resembling a power play quarterback. Instead, he is a big, mean, physical stay-at-home defender. Every team seems to need one of those.
Nedomlel spent two full seasons with the Toledo Walleye of the ECHL before being dealt to Detroit’s rival, the St. Louis Blues, back in January for future considerations. Nedomlel has the size and mean streak to be a bottom-pairing defender at the NHL level, but he needs to first find the consistency to stick at the AHL level.
7th round, 205th overall: Alexey Marchenko, D, CSKA Moscow (KHL)
Status: NHL Player
NHL Games: 80
The Red Wings have been known to find a few diamonds in the rough in late rounds of the NHL Draft in years prior and they may have found just that in Russian defender Alexy Marchenko. At 6’2″ and 210 pounds, Marchenko has made his path by playing a solid, no-frills defensive game, but has the ability to contribute more.
Spending parts of three seasons with Grand Rapids (with short stints in Detroit), Marchenko needed just four games in the AHL this season before getting the permanent call-up to Detroit. In 66 games, he only posted 11 points, but continued to show a patient, solid defensive game that should keep him in the Red Wings lineup for a while.
Marchenko was a low-risk pick and has already paid huge dividends for the Red Wings. Look for him to hold at least a bottom-pairing role for the foreseeable future.
View the video below for a look back at the 2011 NHL Draft of the Detroit Red Wings, including draft footage of picks Tomas Jurco, Xavier Ouellet, Ryan Sproul, and Alan Quine.
Prospect of the Month
With the Grand Rapids Griffins were eliminated in the Calder Cup Playoffs by the now Western Conference champion Lake Erie Monsters, prospect news is a little slow of late. However, the Red Wings did acquire a new prospect, trading a 2017 third-round pick to the San Jose Sharks for winger Dylan Sadowy. The 20-year-old was a third-round pick in the 2014 NHL Draft, but the Sharks are often peculiar about signing prospects. In Sadowy’s case, there is much to like. He was a standout for a somewhat undermanned Saginaw Spirit club through most of his junior career, leading the team in scoring last season with 42 goals and 74 points while the second-leading scorer (Mitchell Stephens) had just 48 points. Sadowy was traded to a much better Barrie Colts squad midway through this season, and put up 36 points in 28 regular season games. A smart player with skill, Sadowy is a low-risk acquisition who can bolster the Griffins as soon as next season.
Follow Ryan on Twitter via @kindofawriter