Playoff success may be the Detroit Red Wings' calling card, but this season it was not just the NHL club that experienced an extended postseason run. The Red Wings took the Chicago Blackhaws to seven games before bowing out in the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and this may have been a blessing in disguise for Detroit. A number of players were able to be sent down to the AHL's Grand Rapids Griffins, who are having the most notable playoff run in the organization; they are currently battling the Syracuse Crunch for the Calder Cup and hold a 2-0 series advantage after a pair of road victories to begin the series. Red Wings prospects also had significant success in the NCAA Tournament and the Mastercard Memorial Cup tournament.
Gustav Nyquist played like an NHL veteran during the Stanley Cup Playoffs. He netted the game-winning goal in overtime of game two of Detroit's first round series with Anaheim and continued his stellar play in the second round against Chicago. Nyquist played in only 22 regular season games but became a bigger cog in Detroit's offense as the playoffs wore on. This was evident not only by his five points (one less than his regular season total), but also in being utilized in all 14 of Detroit's playoff contests.
Joakim Andersson made the kind of contributions that pay dividends in the playoffs, excelling in the faceoff circle. Andersson won 55.9 percent of the 177 draws he took. Andersson's five points (like Nyquist, close to his regular season total of eight) were beneficial to a team that did not expect Andersson to make the NHL roster this season.
Brendan Smith was a more polarizing figure, as he was able to contribute on the offensive end but struggled repeatedly defensively. Smith scored his only two goals of the season during Detroit's playoff run, but he also was frequently caught out of position in front of the net.
Petr Mrazek has continued to be the lynchpin in Grand Rapid's success. Mrazek has been outstanding in the Calder Cup Playoffs, posting a goals against average of 2.21 and a .921 save percentage.
Tomas Tatar has seen his torrid scoring pace carry over from regular season to postseason, as Tatar has scored 17 points in 20 playoff games.
Tomas Jurco has shown growth in his game, as it appears he has finally settled in at the AHL level. Jurco has eight goals in 20 playoff games, including an outstanding series-clinching goal in game seven of the Western Conference Finals that sent the Griffins to the Calder Cup Finals.
Riley Sheahan and Landon Ferraro have also been keys to Grand Rapids' Calder Cup run, with each contributing a great deal offensively. Sheahan has 15 points in 20 games, including 12 assists and an impressive plus-seven plus/minus rating. Ferraro has 13 points in 20 playoff games, including a more evenly distributed five goals and eight assists. Ferraro's offensive prowess has carried over from the regular season and puts to rest speculation that his game was trending downwards.
The Toledo Walleye fell to the Cincinnatti Cyclones in the first round of the ECHL playoffs. William Coetzee, a 2013 ECHL All-Star, contributed four points (all assists) in six playoff games. Although no longer considered a prospect at 26 years old, goaltender Jordan Pearce had a very solid playoff series, recording a 2-0-1 record to go with a goals allowed average of 1.95 and a .936 save percentage.
Andreas Athanasiou may have been a healthy scracth at times during London's 2011-12 OHL championship run, but there was absolutely no way that would happen again. Athanasiou scored 12 goals and had 13 assists in 22 playoff games for the OHL's Barrie Colts. The Colts took Athanasiou's former London team to a seventh game in the OHL Championship, but fell short of reaching the Mastercard Memorial Cup.
Martin Frk also had a high-scoring playoff run, using his talented teammates and big shot to generate 13 goals and 20 assists in only 17 playoff games. Frk's Halifax Mooseheads not only advanced to the Mastercard Memorial Cup but defeated the Portland Winterhawks to capture the championship. Frk added five goals and four assists in four Memorial Cup games.
Speedy defenseman Ben Marshall and his University of Minnesota team was upset in the first round of the NCAA Tournament by eventual National Champion Yale. Marshall recorded no points and was a minus-one in Minnesota's lone tournament game.
St. Cloud State defenseman Nick Jensen had only one assist during his team's NCAA Tournament run, but his solid defensive play helped SCSU advance to the Frozen Four. Jensen signed a two-year entry-level contract with the Red Wings after his collegiate season finished.
Jared Coreau signed a three-year entry-level contract with the Red Wings. He has not seen game action since his season ended with the CCHA's Northern Michigan Wildcats, but he will likely spend the 2013-14 season with the Grand Rapids Griffins.
Detroit signed another, and perhaps the most highly sought after, college free agent when Western Michigan's Dan DeKeyser signed a two-year entry-level contract with the Red Wings. DeKeyser stepped in and immediately helped solidify Detroit's defense before suffering a broken thumb during the Red Wings' first round series against Anaheim. DeKeyser has recovered and has now joined the Grand Rapids Griffins.