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: Speedy winger Andreas Athanasiou had a breakout season for the Barrie Colts, leading the team all the way to the OHL finals (courtesy of Terry Wilson/OHL Images)
Detroit's run through the first round of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs was surprising to many. Perhaps more surprising is depth of talent they have in their pipeline. The Detroit Red Wings boast some exceptional prospects who have the potential to be future stars in the NHL. The following awards feature the Red Wings prospects who stood out above the rest. The fact that no player won multiple awards is indicative of the depth of Detroit's talent pool.
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.
Photo: Defenseman Brendan Smith has been developing steadily in the AHL and may now be ready for full-time NHL duty with the Detroit Red Wings (courtesy of Rocky Widner/Getty Images)
After an offseason of unprecedented change, the Detroit Red Wings' prospects will be relied upon more than they have been in over a decade to have an impact at the NHL level.