Red Wings Top North American Prospects in season rewiew

By Zoran Manojlovic

Red Wings Top North American Prospects in season rewiew

1. Jason Williams

Position: Center
Team: Cincinnati (AHL)
Born: 1980
Height: 5.11
Weight: 188
Drafted: Signed as a free agent 2000
Rating: 7.5 / 10
Last season: 76 games 24 goals 45 assists 69 points 48 pim

The 21 year old London, Ontario native had a great season in the AHL with Cincinnati Mighty Ducks. He came from nowhere to the Detroit Red Wings training camp and quicklley become one of the best players. He was the second leading scorer on the team with 3 goals and 4 assists in seven exhibition games. But unfortunatlley he was cought by the numbers and was sent to AHL. After a slow start he exploded into one of the best players in Cincinnati. He finished the year with impressive numbers for a 20 year old rookie, he lead the team in scoring and finished 17th in the league and 2nd among rookies.
Williams also got the taste of NHL when he was recalled for 5 games and noticed 3 assists and averaged 14 minutes per game. He centered a line with Shanahan and Lapointe. He also played in 2 playoff games.

Williams is a tremendous player with and without the puck, he is a good skater who is very responsible defensivelly. He has great vision and is a good playmaker who has nice stickhandling ability. He has a lazer of a shot and can play both playmaker and the scorer on the powerplay.

Williams will presumably be with the Red Wing next season, if nothing unexpected happends. He could play a right winger on the first line with Yzerman and Shanahan.

Anyway he is a good player with NHL future ahead of him.

2. Tomas Kopecky

Position: Center
Team: Lethbridge (WHL)
Born: 1982
Height: 6.3
Weight: 190
Drafted: 2nd round in the 2000 draft (38 overall)
Rating: 6.5 / 10
Last season: 49 games 22 goals 28 assists 50 points 52 pim

Tomas Kopecky is 19 year old center from Slovakia who was second in the CHL import draft. He started the year in Traverse City in the Red Wings prospect camp. He had a good training camp and showed promising skills for the future. In Lethbridge he played good for a player who is not from north America and become one of the best rookies in WHL. He averaged more than a point per game and played a nice two way game. Kopecky had a dissapointing WJC with only 2 goals and 4 points in 7 games. Tomas also become the youngest player in the history of Cincinnati Mighty Ducks to play in AHL.

Tomas is a center that combines great size and reach with fantastick hockey sense. He is a very good stickhandler and likes to do unexpected things. He also likes to play a gritty games and last season he got his first major penalty. Unfortunatlly I haven`t been able to see Kopecky live but according to scouting reports he is a step below in NHL skating standards.

He will be back with Lethbridge next season and try to establish him self as an offensive force in WHL.

3. Jesse Wallin

Position: Defence
Team: Cincinnati (AHL)
Born: 1978
Height: 6.2
Weight: 201
Drafted: 1st round in 1996 draft (26th overall)
Rating: 6.5 / 10
Last season: 76 games 2 goals 15 assists 17 points 50 pim

In 2000 Wallin once again had a good training camp but didn`t get a chance to play in NHL. He played only four minutes in a emergency recall in NHL. Back in AHL Wallin had a good season and was the most consistant defenceman on the team, he also had solid numbers for a stay home defenceman.

Jesse is a good skater with very good hockey sense. He has a good shot and is a solid and smart playmaker, who plays a simple but effective game. His leadership is tremendous.

HOPEFULLY Wallin will get a fair chance to show what he can in NHL in the next season becose he is worth the shot. And Jesse is an important prospect for the Red Wings fossile defence core!

4. Paul Ballantyne

Position: Defence
Team: Sault Ste. Marie (OHL)
Born: 1982
Height: 6.3
Weight: 200
Drafted: 6th round in 2000 draft (196th overall)
Rating: 6.5 / 10
Last season: 63 games 12 goals 28 assists 40 points 60 pim

Paul “BAM BAM” Ballantyne, a 19 year old Waterloo, Ontario native had a breakthrough year with Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds. He had an impressive training camp with Detroit an returned to the Grayhounds where he was expected to become one of the best defencemen on the team, and so he did. He was not only the best defenceman but also the best and most important player on the young Grayhounds team. He had impressive numbers with 40 points in just 63 games on a young and unexperienced team without any stars.

Paul is a solid skater that plays a smart and effective game. He is a tough defenceman that uses his frame effectivelly, and he is very discilpined and hard working. Over the last year he has also stepped up offensivelly and is now a good allround defenceman.

He is expected to return to Sault Ste. Marie as a capitan for the next season.

5. Aaron Van Leusen

Position: Center / Right Wing
Team: Brampton (OHL)
Born: 1981 (born in october)
Height: 6
Weight: 200
Drafted: 4th round in 2000 draft (130th overall)
Rating: 6 / 10
Last season: 68 games 25 goals 40 assists 65 points 33 pim

The speedy Van Leusen had a carear season with Brampton Battalion in OHL. He played on a team that included stars such as Raffi Torres and Rotislav Klesa. He was on the first line with Torres and was very good, he finished second on the team in scoring with 65 points in 68 games. Aaron was very important for Brampton not only becose his offensive numbers but also for his hard working defensive play. Van Leusen was also voted player of the week in OHL once this year.

Van Leusen has great speed and is hard working team player. He is a good two way forward that primarily plays defensive.

Aaron has potential to devalop into a Kris Draper type of player in NHL.

6. Sean Avery

Position: Center
Team: Cincinnati (AHL)
Born: 1980
Height: 5.9
Weight: 180
Drafted: Signed as a free agnet 1999
Rating: 6 / 10
Last season: 58 games 8 goals 15 assists 23 points 304 pim

Sean Avery was also signed as a free agent, in 99 after a very good season with Kingston in OHL. He had 84 points and 215 pim in only 55 games. Last season he played with Cincinnati in AHL and had a solid season for a 20 year old rookie. Sean was center on the 3rd line and was playing every night against the other teams best line but he still was plus 17 (2nd among rookies in AHL).

Avery may not be a smooth player with style but he sure is a hardworking player that is willing to take great deal of punishment to succed. He has good skating abillity, solid hands and is a good playmaker.

He`ll play in AHL for another year or two but he could become an NHL player becose of his hard working abillity.

* You may wonder why Yuri Butsayev is not on this list, that is becose in my eys he
is a NHL player and not a prospect, he has played 71 games for Detroit.

* About Jason Elliot, he is to old to be a prospect even dough he had a very good
season in IHL with Manitoba Moose, and could maybe be the next Manny