The Detroit Red Wings came into the 2012 NHL Entry Draft in Pittsburgh with only six picks, including no first-rounder, and elected to see those picks through without making any moves. The Wings 2012 draft class had a familiar flavor to it as well. Their first selection was highly skilled Czech Martin Frk from Halifax (QMJHL) and their last selection was an enormous Swede that only Hakan Andersson could spot.
Martin Frk, RW – Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)
2nd round, 49th overall
Height: 6'0 Weight: 193 lbs
In typical Detroit fashion, the Wings selected a highly-skilled European forward that was sliding a bit on the second day of the draft. Martin Frk is a Czech import of the Halifax Mooseheads. He managed just 16 goals and 29 points in 34 games for Halifax this year though as he was sidelined for the first half of the season with a serious concussion. The injury had a lasting effect on him as he was unable to come into season in top physical shape and his stamina was negatively affected. With a full offseason, training camp, and preseason to ready himself for his next season he bares the team's next challenge: getting Halifax to the Memorial Cup.
Frk is an easily excitable player that has a showman's flair but also a fiery temper. He has magnificent hands and a tremendous shot. He can make a lot of offense happen on the rink at any time. He's still maturing, so he'll eventually learn when he can and cannot take on a player one-on-one, which he has a habit of doing too much. Given how much he has the puck on his stick, he is prone to turnovers and, to compound the problem, he's not much of a backchecker. Defensively he may never develop into anything more than passable. Offensively he can shoot from anywhere and score, he can play the point of the power play, and has the hands to make a big impact if his energy is channeled correctly. His skating is very rough and needs a lot of work. He's going to have to gain quickness and agility if he wants to pull off fancy moves at the NHL level without getting obliterated. He can play with some physicality, but is prone to ill-timed, selfish penalties.
He will get a chance to improve the weak aspects of his game with another year in juniors as he is already about as advanced as a player can get skill wise at his current playing level.
It's been a rather rare sight to see the Red Wings draft a goaltender but they acquired one from their own backyard when they used their second selection on Jake Paterson from Saginaw (OHL). Paterson was a first-year OHLer when he put together a .500 record with a 3.42 goals against average, .904 save percentage and one shutout in 42 games. Paterson finished very strong down the stretch and was awarded the starting job in the playoffs. He performed very well in the postseason and when he knocked out the talented Sarnia Sting in the first round, he became the only '94 born goaltender to advance to the next round. He then faced the eventual OHL champion in London and nearly stole that series as well. While he's still very inconsistent, he's shown the ability to put the team on his back and give them a chance to win in a difficult situation.
Paterson is a positionally sound goaltender that tries to model his game after Carey Price. He's calm and cool in the net and doesn't appear to get easily rattled. He still has a long way to go technically, as almost any 18-year-old goalie might. He pushes off well and displays good lateral movement but sometimes commits too quickly to going post-to-post and takes himself out of the play. He still could work on using his stick better when shooters bear down on him and not collapsing so much when he slides across the crease. He challenges well and is a good first-shot stopper. His rebound control is still a work in progress, which is to be expected. The Wings do not have a history of rushing their goaltenders at all and Paterson will get to take his time and make the improvements he needs to make to get to the professional level.
Andreas Athanasiou, LW – London Knights (OHL)
4th round, 110th overall
Height: 6' Weight: 177 lbs
London forward Andreas Athanasiou fell out of the top-100 on the second day of the draft to Detroit in the fourth round. Known primarily for his speed and hands, Athanasiou didn't see a marked improvement in his offensive numbers in his second year in the OHL. He scored 22 goals and 15 assists in 63 games but scored just two goals in 14 playoff games for the Knights. He was such a disappointment in the playoffs that he ended up being scratched at times but did return for the Memorial Cup with some more vim and vigor. He was named to the second all-rookie team in 2011, but by most accounts his 2012 season was a letdown based on expectations.
Athanasiou was one of the fastest players available in the 2012 NHL Draft and has a nice pair of mitts to match. His technical skill can best be described as creative, crafty, and imaginative. He keeps his feet moving well in corners and along the boards and despite his slight frame, he can build up enough inertia to clobber some defensemen on the forecheck. He's still something of a one-trick pony and that one trick isn't blowing away a junior league at the moment it seems. He creates offense almost exclusively on speed and has below average vision on the ice. He's not a very good passer nor does he have elite level finishing skills – he doesn't score many goals with a snappy wristshot from out high, for instance. His defensive game is lacking enough to get him sat during the playoffs, so that will need to be improved, but it appears as if any improvement will just be based on work rate as opposed to anticipation ability.
He really could stand to mature his game in almost every facet. He's a long-term project certainly and is trying to find a toolbox for his tools. Right now, it's not unfair to get a little Rico Fata (with better hands) or Jeff Heerema vibe from Athanasiou, but he could also turn out to be the steal of the draft if it all comes together for him.
Mike McKee, D – Lincoln Stars (USHL)
5th round, 140th overall
Height: 6'5 Weight: 229 lbs
The first defenseman that the Wings selected in 2012 was passed over in 2011 before moving to the USHL. Already of pro size at 6'5 and 229 pounds, Mike McKee plays a physical brand of hockey that can be devastating to the opposition. He spent the year in Lincoln with the Stars where he notched just two goals and 19 points in 59 games; however, he found himself in the penalty box more than any other player in the league. At 237 penalty minutes plus another 44 in the playoffs, McKee found himself confined to the sin bin for an alarming amount of time. While some of it may be mildly attributable to being so much bigger than his peers, still a sizeable portion of that number is brought upon himself by racking up a ton of fighting majors.
McKee can move pretty well for such a big player which will allow him to progress as a defensive defenseman. He was a forward up until a few years ago, but no one would guess that based on his puck skills which are safe and simple. He's a very raw prospect that will need a lot of work on the defensive side of the game so that he can bring a net positive to a 5-on-5 shift at the NHL level, as opposed to being pigeon-holed as an enforcer. McKee will join Western Michigan University either this fall or the following fall, which should be interesting as fighting is not permitted at the collegiate level.
James De Haas, D – Toronto Lakeshore Patriots (OJHL)
6th round, 170th overall
Height: 6'3 Weight: 197 lbs
Detroit followed up with another defenseman from the second-tier of junior hockey in North America with James De Haas from the OJHL. De Haas put up impressive numbers with Toronto: 10 goals and 19 assists in 45 games, and had an excellent playoffs that saw him notch five goals and 12 points in 21 games. Along with his penchant for scoring at the OJHL level, De Haas was very good defensively and, for his efforts, was named First-Team All-Prospect in the OJHL.
De Haas has a big frame that still needs to be filled out, but under it is a great skating base. He moves the puck rather well and can find the right time to sneak in from the point to gather goals. He probably isn't destined to be a power play quarterback by any means and will be more of a secondary distributor as he rises up the hockey ranks. De Haas will likely settle in as a fine, defensive-minded, two-way defenseman that can play in most situations. He sees the game well and just needs to continue to grow as a player on both sides of the puck as he faces more and more stringent competition. He's off to Penticton to play in the BCHL for the Vees and then committed to Clarkson University in 2013-14.
Rasmus Bodin, C/LW – Ostersunds IK J18 (J18 Elit – Swe. Jr.)
7th round, 200th overall
Height: 6'6 Weight: 207 lbs
Finally at the 200th pick of the draft, the Red Wings select a player out of Europe. A typical Hakan Andersson pick from deep in the heart of Sweden, Rasmus Bodin is 6'6 and skates very well. The big-framed forward spent most of the season in the second-tier of an under-18 junior league in Ostersunds where he registered 26 points and 94 penalty minutes in 29 games. He also played in a third-tier pro league where he notched 10 points in 20 games. He grabbed the attention of HV71 (a highly ranked team in Sweden) brass after a two-day tryout with the club and was given a contract that starts in time for the 2012-13 season. He will likely jump all the way up to the top under-20 junior league in the nation this season.
Bodin is both massive and relatively fleet of foot which is a great combination. He has a physical edge to his game that can get him into a bit of trouble due to the nature of his size. A good shooter with overall sound offensive instincts, Bodin isn't expected to bring any spectacular offensive gifts to the table. He's an industrious forward that is still finding his game and his identity on the rink. Bodin is a raw, long-term project in every sense of the word.