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: Portland Winterhawks forward and Columbus Blue Jackets prospect Oliver Bjorkstrand was one of just three WHL players to hit the 50-goal mark in the 2013-14 regular season (courtesy of Marissa Baecker/Getty Images)
In the 2013-14 season regular season, the WHL featured a talented variety of wingers that are currently NHL prospects. The focus of this article is on the those WHL wingers that are currently property of a National Hockey League team, six of whom have signed NHL contracts. Our ranking consists of seven Canadians and three imports. Seven toiled in the WHL’s Western Conference, and our ranking contains a couple sets of teammates.
Photo: Tomas Jurco, playing in his second professional season, earned his first call-up to the NHL on December 15th (courtesy of Tony Ding/Icon SMI)
The drive from Grand Rapids to Detroit is rather unremarkable. Flat land and clusters of trees pockmark the edge of the highway.
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: The MVP of the 2013 Calder Cup Playoffs, Tomas Tatar has his sights set on sticking in the NHL for the 2013-14 season (courtesy of Barry Chin/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
Procuring talent has not been difficult for the Detroit Red Wings over the past two decades, but the way in which they acquire their talent has certainly changed. A prospect pipeline that was once virtually dry is now overflowing with talented players ready to make their mark in the hockey world.