Red Wings Report: Top 10 Prospects Update

By Zoran Manojlovic

After a great, long season where the Wings won the Presidents trophy, Stanley Cup and also menaged to make steal at the draft, I thought that it was time for a Top 10 prospects update with new grades. So here it is:

– These rankings a based on prospects NHL potential at the peak of theire career –

1. Henrik Zetterberg, C, 21 years, 6-0, 187, Grade: 8.0

Henrik Zetterberg had a tough year in the Swedish Elite league becose of his great performance in his rookie season in 2000, where all the teams found out what a great player he was. Although having two, three players on his back he still managed to produce solid amount of points and finished the season with 32 points in 48 games. In the relegation games where he once again saved his club, Timrå from demotion to the second tier league, he amassed 7 goals and 12 points in just 8 games. But his best showcase came in the Swedish Hockey games where he scored 4 goals and 7 points in just 4 games with the National team and was voted to the All Star team and the best player of the tournament. His performance with the National team all year long was the reason that he was awarded with a three year contract with Detroit.

Future: The future looks very bright for the 21 year old Zetterberg who will attend the training camp in september for the first time. I`em sure that he will make the team and have a pretty good rookie year in the NHL if he gets a solid amount of ice-time. In my opinion he should be playing on the wing with Fedorov and Shanahan, becose of his great offensive skills.

Potential: Top line wing or center

2. Jiri Hudler, C, 18 years, 5-10, 176, Grade: 8.0

Jiri has had an outstanding season in Czech Republic where has been the star on every team that he has played on. In the Czech Elite league with Vsetin, which he led in points with 46 in 46 games and finished 14th overall in the league scoring. Then with the U-18 team which he helped capture a Bronze medal with his stellar performance, 7 goals and 14 points in just 8 games. He aslo menaged to play with the U-20 team at the WJC as an underager where he finished 6th in team scoring with 3 points in 7 games. After a season like this you could count on getting drafted in the top 15, but for Hudler that wasn`t the case. He had to wait untill the 58th name was called to know what team that he would belong to. There has been a lot of questions surounding his drop but nomather what, he was a STEAL even if he never playes in the NHL.

Future: Hudler was hopeing that he was going to play in the NHL next season but that changed as he was drafted by the Red Wings. He will now return to Czech Republic for at least another year of devalopment. He has a small frame but I`em sure that he will grow into a 5-foot-11, 185 pounder in the near future. Could become a Robert Reichel type of player.

Potential: Top line playmaking center

3. Igor Grigorenko, RW, 19 years, 5-11, 185, Grade: 7.5

Igor is another Wing prospect that has had an outstanding season. He has devaloped just like the Wings staff could have hoped when they drafted him in the 2nd round, 62nd overall in last years draft. He started the year as an extra forward but as the season went on Igor got more and more ice-time and made the best of it. He finished the year with 9 goals and 18 points and 66 pim. in 45 games, which is very good for an 18 year old rookie. Igor has also been a regular all year long with the Junior national team which captured the Gold medal at the WJC in Czech Republic. He has been the best scorer on the team with 15 goals in just 19 games.

Future: Igor looks to have a bright future ahead of him. With a very strong rookie season in the Superleague he will now have to continue his devalopment and show that this season was not a one-time performance. He should stay in Russia for at least one more year where he will get a good amount of ice-time and play for the junior national team one last time. Plays in the mold of Maxim Afinogenov.

Potential: Top two-line offensive winger

4. Stefan Liv, G, 21 years, 6-0, 180, Grade: 7.5

Stafan has come a long way since the 2000 draft where he was drafted as an unknow prospect at the 102nd spot. Over the last 2 seasons he has devaloped into one of the best goalie prospects outside the NHL. Last season in the Swedish elite league he captured “Honkens Trophy” as the best goalie and showed that he is a good goalie in international competition as well as he won Bronze medal at the WC.

Future: Stefans position changed dramaticly as the Wings signed “Cujo” to a three year deal earlier this week. Now the Wings have two very good goalies inked for at least three more seasons. So this could mean that Liv is three years away from the NHL if the Wings doasn`t make a trade to make room for Stefan. Stefan will play in the Swedish elite league for at least another year and could then come over for a year or two in the AHL before making the jump to NHL.

Potential: Top Goalie

5. Niklas Kronwall, D, 21 years, 6-0, 180, Grade: 7.0

Niklas has once again had a solid season, but we are still waiting for his real breakthrough year. The positive thing with this year was that he didn`t have any major injuryes and was abel to play 48 of the 50 season games. He played a solid two-way game and was a regular on both the penalty killing and power play units. In 48 games he menaged to score 5 goals and 12 points with 34 pim. Niklas played also with the national team and was among the last players that were cut from the World Championship team that captured a Bronze medal.

Future: Niklas is only one year away from the NHL and was with Henrik Zetterberg on his trip to Detroit during the playoffs. Djurgården has unloaded some veteran defensmen prior to this season and Kronwall will get tons of ice-time and could have a breakthrough season which could lead to a spot on the WC team as well.

Potential: Top 4 offensive defenseman.

6. Tomas Kopecky, C, 20 years, 6-3, 190, Grade: 7.0

Detroit made a trade in the 2000 draft to move up and grab Tomas Kopecky at the 38th spot. Wings staff had and have high hopes for the hulking center who has not dissapointed during his two years in the WHL. After two very good years in juniors, he is now ready to make the jump to AHL where he will have to continue his devalopment and prove that he can produce at pro level as well.

Future: As the Wings have four-five forwards that will quit after next year, Kopeckys future looks very bright if he can show up in the AHL. I think that he will need at least one year in the AHL before making the jump to NHL although he could see some ice-time in the NHL already this season as a recall.

Potential: 2nd line two-way center

7. Pär Bäcker, C, 20 years, 6-1, 180, Grade: 6.5

Pär Bäcker is another “diamond in the rough” find by the Wings as they grabed him at the 187th spot in the 2000 draft. Bäcker has produced solid numbers in his rookie season in the Swedish elite league and played a safe two-way game. Although having a solid regular season, Pär cought fire in the playoffs as he was promoted to play as 2nd line center with Champions, Färjestad. He scored impressive 5 goals and 1 assist in 10 games and was plus 10.

Future: Although having a very good rookie season in the Swedish elite league Bäcker is still a long term project as he will have to bulk up a bit and add more strenght to his game. After an impressive performance during the playoffs Bäcker could have a breakthhrough season and get some playing time with the national team as well next season. He is stil two-three years away from prime time.

Potential: 2nd line two-way center

8. Miroslav Blatak, D, 20 years, 6-1, 180, Grade: 6.5

This young Czech defensman has had a season that the Wings staff must have liked. He was not only a regular in the Czech elite league with Zlin, he produced solid numbers and was a reliable defensive defensman as well. After good performances in the Extraliga, Blatak was chosen to play at the WJC, and did he impress. He led all the defensmen in scoring with 3 goals and 4 assists in 7 games.

Future: After a very good rookie season in the Extraliga, Blatak has shown that he has good potential as a future NHL defensaman. He will need at least two-three years to devalope his overall game and add more strenght.

Potential: Top 4 two-way defenseman

9. Tomas Fleischmann, LW, 18 years, 6-1, 172, Grade: 6.5

This years second 2nd rounder, Tomas Fleischmann has had an impressive season in the Czech junior league where he put up very good numbers as he lead the league with 21 goals and 38 points in 34 games. Tomas was pretty much unknow before the U-18 WJC, but after a strong tournament he rose on the scouting charts and was ranked 54 by the Hockey News and 39 in Europe by CSB.

Future: Future is still unknow for this youngster as he has to decide if he wants to come over to the WHL and play for Moose Jaw Warriors or if he wants to stay in the Czech Republic and fight for a spot on the Extraliga team. No mather which one he takes he will have planty of time to devalope and prove that he can play in the NHL.

Potential: 2nd line offensive winger

10. Drew MacIntyre, G, 19 years, 6-1, 185, Grade: 6.5

Drew has had a tough time in the Q for the last three years with Sherbrook Castors. He has been playing on a poor team without any stars and a good defense. But Drew chose the Q him self becose he wanted to face more shots and get a better devalopment in the juniors. And man was he right, last year he faced 34 shots a game.

Future: Although having a tough time, Drew has still kept his game on a high level and has shown that he has potential. He will be back in the Q next year for another tough season where he will have to convince the Wings staff that he is worth a contract. I think that he`ll get a contract and find him self in the AHL after the next season. He is three to five years away.

Potential: Starter

– Feel free to leave your commenst on the Red Wings Message boards. –