Prospects Update

By Zoran Manojlovic

1. Jiri Hudler

Position: C

Team: Vsetin, CZE

Born: 1984

Height: 5-10

Weight: 176

Shoots: L

02/03 Stats: GA 30 G 19 A 27 P 46 PIM 22

After being overlooked at the draft Hudler wanted to prove the GM´s and scouts wrong for not being selected in the first round. So far he has done it. He has been one of the best players in the Extraliga as he has put up impressive numbers for an 18 year old kid with 19 goals and 27 assists in 46 games. He has seen a lot of ice-time both on the PP and on the PK-units and his great performance in the Extraliga has resulted in a senior national team debut where Hudler continued to showcase his great offensive firepower. Although he didn`t manage to score he showd that he is a highly skilled player with great potential. Hudler will now play a huge role for his country at the WJC which starts on December 26th, as he is expected to lead the team offensively.

2. Igor Grigorenko

Position: C

Team: Lada, RUS

Born: 1983

Height: 6-0

Weight: 185

Shoots: L

02/03 Stats: GA 28 G 11 A 7 P 18 PIM 64

Igor has continued to devalop in the right direction and is now one of the best Russian prospects. After a successfull rookie year, Grigorenko proved that he was ready for a bigger role and he got it. He is now playing on Lada`s top two lines and is seeing tons of ice time. This has led to increased offensive numbers as he has allready passed his goal total from last year. Igor has also devaloped his two-way game and this is one of the reasons for his senior national team debut where he played on the second line as a center. This shows that the coach has a lot of faith in him, but he didn`t look that comfortable. He wasn`t abel to show up his offensive strenghts as he tryed to make the safe play and play more defensive minded. Grigorenko is another Red Wings prospect that is expected to be play a key role at the WJC for his country.

3. Stefan Liv

Position: G

Team: HV 71, SWE

Born: 1980

Height: 6-0

Weight: 176

Catches: L

02/03 Stats: GA 27 GAA 2.59 SV% 90.9 SO 2

Liv is haveing another big year in Sweden. He is among the best goalies in the league and is by far the MVP on his team. He keeps on winning games on his own and he is doing it in a spectacular way. Prior to the season`s start there were a lot of expectations and presure on Liv`s shoulders, but he has responded well and is doing a great job. Red Wings goalie coach, Jim Bedard has been in Sweden for one week and he has also been pleased with Liv`s devlopment. Liv`s only weakness this year has been his rebound control as he is allowing rebounds on not to difficult shots. But nevertheleass he will be the go to guy on the national team now that Tommy Salo has anounced his retirement from the national team.

4. Niklas Kronwall

Position: D

Team: Djurgården, SWE

Born: 1981

Height: 6-0

Weight: 185

Shoots: L

02/03 Stats: GA 29 G 3 A 5 P 8 PIM 30

Niklas is another Red Wings prospect that has had a lot of expectations and presure on his shoulders this season. After a solid season last year manny thought that this year was going to be a breakthrough for Niklas, but this has not been the case, well not if you are going to judge his play by the numbers. If you take his overall game in perspective I belive that it will change your opinion. During the pre-season he added some well needed muscles and gained upperbody strenght which he needed so badly. He has also matured and plays now a smarter and more sound two-way game. He is agressive and plays the body all over the ice. His maturety has also led to a more effective offensive game in which he literally seems to play as an extra forward. One reason that manny criticts have doubted Kronwall`s progress has
been his absence from the national team. But this is for sure not Kronwall`s falt. He has played very good and deserves to be on the national team, but it seems that head coach Hardy Nilsson prefers to play senior defensemen.

5. Tomas Kopecky

Position: C

Team: Grand Rapids, AHL

Born: 1982

Height: 6-3

Weight: 203

Shoots: L

02/03 Stats: GA 26 G 8 A 2 P 10 PIM 14

The 20 year old former WHL offensive force, Tomas Kopecky is playing in his first full pro season with the Grand Rapid Griffins. He had a though start to the season by going scorless in his first six games, but he has regained confidence and is now playing a strong two-way game with grit and power. His great stickhandling ability has also come to use of lately as he has gained more confidence. Kopecky proves that his two years in the WHL has been very usefull as he has devaloped his shot and is now using it effectively. Tomas devalopment has been positive and he is getting better and better for every game that passes. Hopefully he will get a late season call up by the Red Wings as a sign that he is headed in the right direction.

6. Pär Bäcker

Position: C

Team: Färjestad, SWE

Born: 1982

Height: 6-1

Weight: 182

Shoots: L

02/03 Stats: GA 27 G 10 A 7 P 17 PIM 34

It`s hard to discribe Pär`s progress so far. In some games he has been dominateing with his smart and mature game, but then for most of the season he has been playing like “one in the manny” and not showing enough invovment and offensive desire. His skateing, physical presense and accuracy are among the main downsides to his game. He just doasn`t seem to be abel to take his game to the next level although being praised by the media and national team coach, Hardy Nilsson for his smart and mature play. He has also been painted up as one of the brightest Swedish youngsters along with fellow Wings prospects, Stefan Liv, Jari Tolsa, Niklas Kronwall and others. Bäcker will need at least two, three more years of seasoning in Färjestad before even thinking of moving over the pond. There are so manny weaknesses to his game that needs to be devaloped before he can move over. I doubt that he will ever have any impact what so ever in the NHL and especially with Detroit, but I hope that he proves me wrong.

7. Miroslav Blatak

Position: D

Team: Zlin, CZE

Born: 1982

Height: 6-0

Weight: 178

Shoots: L

02/03 Stats: GA 29 G 2 A 12 P 14 PIM 14

The surprise pick from the 2001 draft, Miroslav Blatak has had a strong season on one of the worse teams in the Extraliga. He has kept on playing his own game which involves a lot of thinking and is one of the better defensemen on the team. His offensive numbers have increased of lately and he is among the top 10 defensemen in scoring. He has also already surpassed his career totals from last season. One of the downsides with his season so far is that he has been absent from the Czech national team on which he made his debut last year. Hopefully he can get a call for the last tournament, Sweden Hockey Games that are played prior to the world championships.

8. Tomas Fleischmann

Position: LW

Team: Moose Jaw, WHL

Born: 1984

Height: 6-1

Weight: 172

Shoots: L

02/03 Stats: GA 38 G 11 A 22 P 33 PIM 22

Tomas has made a nice transition to the north american game and is putting up solid numbers for an 18 year old europeen rookie with 11 goals and 33 points in 38 games. He has also menaged to crack the strong Czech U-20 lineup and will participate at the WJC in Halifax, Canada. Playing on a solid WHL team, Tomas has been displaying his great skills and is among the better stickhandlers in the league. Look for a point-per-game season from the 18 year old sniper.

9. Drew MacIntyre

Position: G

Team: Sherbrooke, QMJHL

Born: 1983

Height: 6-1

Weight: 185

Catches: L

02/03 Stats: GA 32 GAA 2.54 SV% 91.4 SO 0

Look what some well needed help on the defense and up front can make for a goalie. Drew, who has been one of the best goalies in the Q for the last two years is finaly reciving the credit that he deserved a long time ago. But playing on a poor team he hasn`t been abel to put up impressive numbers and thereby going unnoticed. This season his performances have for sure not gone unnoticed as he signed a three year deal with the Detrot Red Wings. He will fight for a spot in the AHL for the next season, but it`s more likely that he will strat his pro career in the ECHL becose of the strong goaltending lineup in Grand Rapid.

10. Paul Ballantyne

Position: D

Team: Toledo, ECHL

Born: 1982

Height: 6-3

Weight: 215

Shoots: R

02/03 Stats: GA 9 G 0 A P 0 PIM 19

Paul “BAM BAM” Ballantyne seems to have hit a wall i his devalopment. After three strong traning camps with Detroit, manny expected Paul to step right in and contribute at the AHL level. But this has not been the case. He seems to have lost all the confidence that he had built up during the three years that he has been a Wings prospect. His defensive game lacks confidence and he has now been passed by Danny Groulx on the deapth chart. Paul, who has been gowing up and down between Toledo and Grand Rapid all season long seems to have found a good devalopment place in Toledo. He is regaining his once so strong confidence and is starting to show the right stuff. But it might take a little longer than he has thought befroe he can make the jump to the AHL.

11. Jari Tolsa

Position: LW

Team: Frölunda, SWE

Born: 1981

Height: 6-1

Weight: 195

Shoots: L

02/03 Stats: GA 22 G 7 A 10 P 17 PIM 14

The 21 year old former 4th round pick in the 1999 draft, Jari Tolsa has for the first time earned the respect that he deserves from both the media and the National coach, Hardy Nilsson. Jari has been one of the most underrated prospects in the Red Wings organisation for manny years now. But his strong improvement during his third season in the Swdish eliteleague has changed that. He is now appearing in newspappers, TV and so on. Lets just hope that the Wings menagment also sees the storming Tolsa and brings him over for seasoning in the AHL. Tolsa`s main attributes are his great work ethic, skateing, hockey sense and solid puck skills which have now translated into a regular spot on the national team. His offensive game has devaloped with the increased ice-time and he is on a pace for career numbers although missing some games duo to a injury.

12. Andreas Jämtin

Position: RW

Team: AIK, SWE-1

Born: 1983

Height: 6-0

Weight: 188

Shoots: L

02/03 Stats: GA 28 G 14 A 15 P 29 PIM 62

One of the brightest shineing prospects so far has been, Andreas Jämtin. The 19 year old forward has taken huge steps in the right diriction during his first season in the Swedish second-tier league. Not only has he been among the scoring leaders in the league with 14 goals and 29 points in 28 games, he has also menaged to devalop his two-way game. He has been logging on tons of ice-time in all kind of situations and has shown that he has big potential. One of his main weaknesses during his young career has been his attitude. This is one of the areas that he has devaloped and is now playing a smarter and more mature game. But he will never become an angel as his game involves a lot of emotions and fighting spirit. And to be abel to play at his best he needs to be allowed to play a gritty and physical game. Andreas is also expected to be among the leaders on the Swedish WJC team.

13. Valtteri Filppula

Position: C

Team: Jokerit, FIN-jr

Born: 1984

Height: 6-0

Weight: 178

Shoots: L

02/03 Stats: GA 24 G 11 A 29 P 40 PIM 12

As expected Filppula didn`t manage to make the senior Jokerit team, but he has not gone under for that. He is one of the best players in the Finnish junior league and is racking up big numbers with 11 goals and 29 assists in just 24 games. Valtteri has also grown a bit and is now a respectble 6-foot speedster. One of the main aspects of his game that needs devalopment is his defensive responsibilityes which he has as a center. He also needs to become stronger if he is going to prove that he is worth playing in the big league next season. Valtteri is among the five Red Wings prospects competing at the WJC.

14. Logan Koopmans

Position: G

Team: Lethbrigde, WHL

Born: 1984

Height: 6-2

Weight: 182

Catches: L

02/03 Stats: GA 15 GAA 4.44 SV% 86.5 SO 0

Logan is another Wings prospects who has had a tough year so far. Starting at the camp, Logan couldn`t convince the team brass that they made the right desicion by selecting him in the 2002 deaft after his weak performances at the prospects camp. Than he went on and got injured and missed a big part of the season start. And as if this wasn`t enough, Logan has had huge problems earning the No.1 spot with the Lethbrige Hurricanes after returning from his injury. Hopefully he can stay healthy for the reminder of the season and show up the kind of game that once made his the No.1 ranked goaltender by the CSB.

15. Todd Jackson

Position: RW

Team: Un. of Maine, ECAC

Born: 1981

Height: 6-0

Weight: 185

Shoots: R

02/03 Stats: GA 16 G 5 A 7 P 12 PIM 16

Playing in his third year with the Black Bears, Todd has been expected to generate more offense than he has been providing the team with so far this season. He has been among the better defensive player i the league for some time now but his offensive game just doasn`t seem to devalop at the same pace. His great skateing ability and his nose for the net should translate into bigger offensive numbers as the season progresses.

16. James Cuddihy

Position: C

Team: Shawingan, QMJHL

Born: 1984

Height: 6-3

Weight: 198

Shoots: L

02/03 Stats: GA 32 G 9 A 16 P 25 PIM 30

The line between too much and too little is hard to get, just ask James Cuddihy. Being a deapth player last year on a veteran filled team, Jimmy is now the scoring leader and among the best players, on a poore team. Jimmy has only taken steps in the right direction and is devaloping into a solid prospect for the Red Wings. He will hit career numbers and establish himself as one of the better two-way forwards in the QMJHL after this season.

17. Danny Groulx

Position: D

Team: Grand Rapid, AHL

Born: 1981

Height: 6-0

Weight: 205

Shoots: L

02/03 Stats: GA 30 G 19 A 27 P 46 PIM 22

One of the more positive surprises so far has been, Danny Groulx. The former QMJHL superstar has translated to the pro level nicely. Although his offenisive numbers aren`t that impressive being the all time leading defensive scorer in the QMJHL history, Danny has steadley improved his two weaknesses, skateing and defensive zone coverage. Playing a strong two-way game Danny could prove the criticts wrong and eventually becoming a NHL defenseman in the future.

18. Derek Meech

Position: D

Team: Red Deer, WHL

Born: 1984

Height: 5-11

Weight: 189

Shoots: L

02/03 Stats: GA 33 G 3 A 12 P 15 PIM 12

Red Wings only defensive prospect playing in the WHL is Derek Meech. The 18 year old rearend is playing in his third season with the Red Deer Rebels and is devaloping at a solid pace. He is more comfortable and provides his team with a sound two-way game. He should rack up career numbers this season.

19. Nathan Robinson

Position: C

Team: Grand Rapid, AHL

Born: 1982

Height: 5-9

Weight: 175

Shoots: L

02/03 Stats: GA 20 G 1 A 5 P 6 PIM 2

Another offseason free agent signee, Nathan Robinson has had a tough time earning a spot with the Griffins of the AHL. Although haveing a very strong camp with the Red Wings, Nathan couldn`t earn a spot with the strong Griffins. Playing in only three games in the ECHL, Nathan showed that he belongs in the AHL after scoring one goal and assisting on five more. He was dominating the games with his phenomenal skateing ability and generating tons of offense. After being recalled by the Griffins Nathan has picked up his game in is now more comfortable at the AHL level and is contributing.

20. Matt Ellis

Position: LW

Team: Toledo, ECHL

Born: 1981

Height: 6-2

Weight: 202

Shoots: L

02/03 Stats: GA 23 G 5 A 7 P 12 PIM 12

Matt Ellis has done a good job in the ECHL with the Toledo Storm. He has been demonstrateing his great work ethic and defensive game for most of the first 20 games. If he is abel to keep up his devalopment, Matt should eventually get a call from the Grand Rapid Griffins of the AHL.

21. Ryan Barnes

Position: LW

Team: Grand Rapid, AHL

Born: 1980

Height: 6-2

Weight: 205

Shoots: L

02/03 Stats: GA 27 G 1 A 2 P 3 PIM 62

Back in the 1998 when the Red Wings drafted a kid named Ryan Barnesin the second round, they were hopeing that he would translate into a power forward with some offensive upside. Well, now four years after the draft Ryan is still on the farm and he isn`t showing that much offense. But he has devaloped into a very good fighter who is among the best in the league and a great forechecker. His offensive game is shapeing up to as he has devaloped his stickhandling ability and is playing more with his head instead of his fists. He could eventualy make the Wings as a fourth line grinder.

22. Pierre-Olivier Beaulieau

Position: D

Team: Quebec, QMJHL

Born: 1984

Height: 6-4

Weight: 191

Shoots: L

02/03 Stats: GA 13 G 2 A 2 P 4 PIM 10

Pierre has had a tough year in the QMJHL. He has been slowed down by injuryes for most of the first half of the season as he has only played in 13 games. In those 13 games he has scored 2 goals and assisted on 2 more. He is now healthy and is looking to bounce back and make most of the remainder of the season.

23. Johan Berggren

Position: D

Team: Sunne, SWE-3

Born: 1984

Height: 6-3

Weight: 178

Shoots: L

02/03 Stats: GA 18 G 0 A 9 P 9 PIM 18

The most surprisingly player take by the Red Wings in the 2002 draft, Johan Beggren hasn`t failed to impresse in his sophomore year in the Swedish third-tier league. After failing to make impact at the pre-season camp with the Swedish U-20 national team, Johan was left of the WJC team that will compete in Canada. Back with Sunne, Johan has played a steady two-way game and is a top-6 defenseman. He is reciving a good amount of ice-time and is used in special teams. His numbers aren`t that impressive as he has yet to score his first goal of the season. Johan is faceing the same task as fellow prospect, Jonathan Ericsson, he needs to bulk up in order to move up in the league systems.

24. Darryl Bootland

Position: RW

Team: Toledo, ECHL

Born: 1981

Height: 6-2

Weight: 195

Shoots: R

02/03 Stats: GA 23 G 5 A 2 P 46 PIM 112

Darryl has been a negative surprise so far this season. Not only did he fail to make the AHL, he is also underachiveing in the ECHL with Toledo. Griffins coach, Mike Babock named foot speed and underachivement as the reason for sending Darryl to the ECHL, and he isn`t proving Babock wrong for sending him down with his play in the ECHL. Five goals and two helpers isn`t going to make him a AHL player in the future. He will need to step his game up significantly if he is going to challange for a spot in the AHL.

25. Jonathan Ericsson

Position: D

Team: Hästen, SWE-3

Born: 1984

Height: 6-4

Weight: 194

Shoots: L

02/03 Stats: GA 25 G 2 A 2 P 4 PIM 12

After being drafted in the 9th round (291st overall), Ericsson was the talk subject in Hästen Hockey. He spent the pre-season training with the senior team of Hästen, and after showcaseing a mature play in the pre-season games he was moved up to play with the senior team on regular basis. Playing on the top three defensive parings, Jonathan has seen a good amount of ice-time in his first season in a mens league. In 25 games he has registered repectable 2 goals and 2 assists and is third on the team with a +5 rating. He will need to add some more muscle in order to move up in the league systems.

26. Nick Pannoni

Position: G

Team: Moose Jaw, WHL

Born: 1982

Height: 6-0

Weight: 170

Catches: L

02/03 Stats: GA 9 GAA 4.19 SV% 86.2 SO 0

Nick started the season with the Moose Jaw Warriors of the WHL, but after a poor start he was released of his duties. This meens probably that he will not be offerd a contract from the Red Wings and that his time as a Red Wings prospect is over.

27. Alexander Seluyanov

Position: D

Team: Lada, RUS

Born: 1982

Height: 6-1

Weight: 185

Shoots: R

02/03 Stats: GA 5 G 1 A 3 P 4 PIM 2

Alexander is back on track after starting the season with Lada`s farm team. In his first 5 games in the superleague he has scored one goal (GW) and assisted on three more. Alex has been playing a very sound two-way game and is finally looking comfortable in the superleague. He is reciving a good amount of ice-time and is used in special teams. Hopefully he will be abel to stay in the superleague throughout this season and continue to gain important experience for his future. He could be ready for a move over the pond after a full season in the superleague and some national team experience.

28. Dmitri Semenov

Position: RW

Team: Dynamo Moscow, RUS

Born: 1982

Height: 5-10

Weight: 194

Shoots: L

02/03 Stats: GA 30 G 19 A 27 P 46 PIM 22

Dmitri has probably never traveled more in his life than this season. At the start of the year he was loaned by Dynamo Moscoew to Metallurg. But after failing to impress the Metallurg brass he was released to the Novo . After once againg failing to crack the lineup Semenov was released by Novo and he is currently back with Dynamo Moscow, the club that owns his rights. Dmitri doasn`t look like he will become a diamond which the Wings scouting staff thought that they found in the rough.

29. Francois Senez

Position: D

Team: Montreal, QMJHL

Born: 1982

Height: 6-3

Weight: 215

Shoots: L

02/03 Stats: GA 30 G 19 A 27 P 46 PIM 22

20 year old defenseman Francois Senez is playing in his second year in the QMJHL. His progress has been hampered by injuryes and he is currentley on the injury list. He has only played 11 games so far this year and if he dosan`t come up big in the second half of the season he won`t recive a pro contract.

On the rise

1.Andreas Jämtin
2.Jari Tolsa
3.Drew MacIntyre
4.Valtteri Filppula
5.Alexander Seluyanov

Steady

1.Jiri Hudler
2.Igor Grigorenko
3.Tomas Fleischmann
4.Niklas Kronwall
5.Stefan Liv

Falling

1.Nick Pannoni
2.Dmitri Semenov
3.Darryl Bootland
4.Paul Ballantyne
5.Logan Koopmans

6. Notes: The new rankings and grades will be updated after the WJC.

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