Photo: Riley Sheahan’s two-way play has earned him a spot in Detroit’s bottom-six forwards for the 2014-15 season (courtesy of Scott Grau/Icon Sportswire)
It has been a gradual change, but the draft picks that have been laying in wait for the Detroit Red Wings have started to make their impact on the team’s NHL roster. As some graduate to the NHL others have filled their spots in the AHL, leaving Detroit’s system very top-heavy with prospects playing professionally.
Photo: Anthony Mantha scored 120 points in 2013-14, his final QMJHL season. He was selected in the first round of the 2013 NHL Draft. (courtesy of Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
The Fall 2014 edition of the Detroit Red Wings Top 20 contains a few new names, but offensive dynamo Anthony Mantha and unorthodox but effective goaltender Petr Mrazek retain their spots atop the list. Additionally, four players make their first ever appearance in the Top 20.
Photo: Zach Nastasiuk, Detroit’s 48th overall pick in 2013, served as captain for the OHL’s Owen Sound Attack in 2013-14 and then finished the year by making his pro debut with Grand Rapids (courtesy of Terry Wilson/OHL Images)
Most organizations choose to either retool through free agency or rebuild through the draft. The Detroit Red Wings, however, chose to take the path least often employed and mixed retooling and rebuilding to continue their 23-year-long playoff streak.
Photo: Andreas Athanasiou led the Barrie Colts in goals (49) and points (95) during his fourth season of junior hockey in the OHL (courtesy of Terry Wilson/OHL Images)
The Detroit Red Wings have already graduated their first true wave of prospects in a number of years to the NHL, and there is a second wave that may be following quickly at their heels.
Photo: Erie Otters forward and Washington Capitals prospect Andre Burakovsky has had a smooth transition to the North American game, notching 87 points in 57 games in 2013-14 (courtesy of Terry Wilson/OHL Images)
The top 10 NHL-drafted wingers currently playing in the OHL aren’t overly large (a couple of notable exceptions, of course), but this year’s crop represents a collection of players who generally are solid defensively (or at least have shown that capability when they put their minds to it), and have the hands to chip in once in a while.