Red Wings prospect update

By Zoran Manojlovic

Prospects Update


Almost two months into the season, many of the
Detroit Red Wings prospects have already made a clear statement of where they


Young Czech players such as Jiri Hudler and Tomas
Fleischmann have had strong starts this season and are looking like future NHL
contibuters, while Pär Bäcker has had a tough time so far and is looking like a
long shot of making the NHL one day.


Hudler refines his skills in the AHL


Rookie center Jiri Hudler
dressed in seven games with Detroit Red Wings this season and picked up an
assist. He didn’t receive the icetime needed to put up strong numbers in the
NHL yet, averaging 7:45, but he is only 19 years old and should benefit from
playing big minutes with the Red Wings AHL affiliate, Grand Rapid Griffins. He
was reassigned on November 12th.


In six games with the Griffins, Hudler has scored 2
goals and 3 assists for 5 points while taking 18 shots. These numbers are
respectable from a 19-year-old rookie´s standpoint.


The last demotion to the AHL should last longer than
just one week, as the Wings brass wants to give Hudler more icetime to adjust
to the more physical hockey.


“He has to play and get ice time,” Coach
Dave Lewis said of Hudler. “He has to go down there and play 18, 20, 22
minutes a game and play in his own zone, play to get better. He’s just a


Hudler´s offensive skills are already NHL caliber
while his defensive responsibilities as a center have to improve in order for
him to become a regular with the Red Wings.


”He can improve his defensive reads, his defensive
zone coverage, where to go in his own zone,” Lewis said.


Fleischmann tearing up the WHL


Detroit’s second choice (63rd overall) in the 2002 NHL
Entry Draft, Tomas
is making a strong bid for the 2003-04 scoring champion title in
the WHL.


After a strong training camp with the Detroit Red
Wings, the offensive left winger returned to Moose Jaw Warriors knowing that
the team would rely a lot on his offensive production this season.


In the first 23 games, Fleischmann has racked up 10
goals and 27 assists for 37 points. He is the league leader in assists (27),
points (37) as well as in plus/minus rating with +14.


This is Fleischmann´s second season in the WHL which
also marks his contract year. If he continues to be a dominating offensive
force in the WHL, Fleichmann will most likely be signed to a professional
contract and turn pro next season.


Pär Bäcker stuck on the fourth line


The 21-year-old center Pär Bäcker has
had a very tough start to the season in Sweden. Färjestad is the top team in
the league and is stocked with very good veteran centers.


This has forced Bäcker  to play on the fourth line with limited icetime. He is rarely
used in power play situations and has only 4 assists in the first 17 games.


Bäcker’s lack of icetime isn´t the only reason for
the lack of his offensive production. He hasn´t improved much from the last two
seasons and it looks like he has hit a wall in his development.


Bäcker’s skating ability is still the same,
which isn´t positive as he lacks both speed and power in his stride. His shot
is also mediocre at best as he lacks power and accuracy.


His lack of development and icetime goes hand in hand
and has also resulted in Bäckers absence from the Swedish National team.


For now the 21-year-old center looks like a long shot
to make the NHL one day.


Kopecky still on the injury list


Tomas Kopecky is
in his second season with the Grand Rapids Griffins of the AHL and was hoping
to build on a solid rookie season in which he had 38 points in 70 games.


Unfortunately the gritty center suffered a rib injury in the second game of the season and has been on the
injury list since.


Kopecky will have to bounce back and
have a strong end to the season in order to keep his No. 5 spot on the depth
chart as players like Tomas Fleichmann are making strong bids to move into the
top 5.



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