Photo: Calle Jarnkrok, playing in his first AHL season out of Sweden, joined a deep and talented pool of forwards developing with Detroit’s AHL affiliate, the Grand Rapids Griffins (courtesy of Jeanine Leech/Icon SMI)
It has been a gradual change, but most things associated with the Detroit Red Wings work that way. In a salary-cap constrained hockey landscape, Detroit can no longer simply outspend other franchises; Detroit knew this eight seasons ago and began to stockpile talent through the NHL Draft.
Photo: Gustav Nyquist is poised for full-time duty in Detroit after strong playoff runs in both the NHL and in Grand Rapids, which won the 2013 Calder Cup (courtesy of Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images)
They are not prominent, but if you pay close attention the signs are all there. Cars left out overnight have dew on the windows, a few leaves are scattered beneath certain trees, and school supplies are pushed to the front of most stores; Fall is just around the corner. With Fall comes another hockey season, this time for every level of hockey (NHL included).
Photo: Rookie goaltender Petr Mrazek has made a great first impression at the pro level, taking the reins in AHL Grand Rapids and even earning a call-up to Detroit (courtesy of Brad Rempel/Icon SMI)
Spring is just around the corner, and as the weather heats up so too does the on-ice action in leagues around the world. As we reach the end of the season in junior hockey and the stretch run in professional hockey we pause to look back at how prospects in the Detroit Red Wings organization have progressed since the puck first dropped last fall.
Photo: The Detroit Red Wings have several minor league prospects who are likely to crack the NHL lineup out of training camp, including Slovakian winger Tomas Tatar. (courtesy of Jeanine Leech/Icon SMI)
The beginning of the 2012-13 AHL season was not kind to the Grand Rapids Griffins. On November 2nd they were 2-4-1-1 and languishing, lacking strong defensive play and goaltending. Enter Petr Mrazek, who ripped off six consecutive wins and seemed to right the ship for the Griffins. As of January 7th, Grand Rapids was 20-10-1-2 and atop the Midwest division.
Photo: Swedish forward Calle Jarnkrok, currently playing with Brynas in the SEL, is the cream of the crop at center for the Detroit Red Wings prospect pool. (courtesy of Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
A paradigm shift occurred for the Detroit Red Wings after the 2004-05 NHL lockout. Gone were the days where Detroit would readily hand out early-round draft picks in exchange for veteran NHL talent. Instead, Detroit decided that they would need to hold on to their draft choices in order to build a prospect pool with skill and size that would help them compete in the new-look NHL.