Photo: Tomas Jurco is among the few Red Wings prospects to see an extensive post-season. (Brace Hemmelgarn/Icon SMI)
Success in Hockeytown is measured in Stanley Cups, but unfortunately, the Detroit Red Wings and their local affiliates came up well short of their intended goals this past season. The Red Wings made the playoffs but failed to advance past the division rival Nashville Predators in the first round. The AHL's Grand Rapids Griffins missed the playoffs altogether. They won just three of their final 10 games down the stretch and missed the playoffs by nine points. At the ECHL level, the Toledo Walleye posted the third-worst record in the league as they were unable to clinch a postseason berth for the second straight season. It was a disappointing spring for most Red Wings prospects abroad as well, though there were several notable exceptions.
Photo: Forward John Huberdeau is the top prospect for the Florida Panthers and one of the top forwards not currently playing hockey at the professional level. (Cliff Welch/Icon SMI)
Below is the final part of Hockey's Future's 2012 Spring Organizational Rankings. The rankings were determined by taking each NHL team's entire prospect pool into consideration as well as the likelihood those prospects are to meet their maximum potential. For reference, each team's top five prospects are included, as well as the players they have graduated, traded, or added to their pool over the 2011-12 season. To be eligible, a player must meet HF's prospect criteria. The rankings are done twice each season, in the fall and spring.
Photo: Detroit Red Wings prospect Tomas Tatar is playing for the Slovakian squad at the 2012 World Championship that upset Canada in the playoff round (courtesy of
Tony Ding/Icon SMI)
Forward Thomas Tatar is no stranger to putting on a big performance for his native Slovakia at international tournaments. He was one of the big stars for an upstart Slovakian team at the 2008 WJC in Canada. Thus, it shouldn’t be a surprise that he was right in the middle of things here in Helsinki for Slovakia’s huge quarterfinal victory over Canada.
Photo: A first round pick in 2010, forward Riley Sheahan has recently left Notre Dame and joined the Red Wings AHL affiliate in Grand Rapids. Sheahan projects as a strong two-way forward who can contribute timely offense. (Photo courtesy of Zuma Press/Icon SMI)
The Red Wings have 11 prospects playing in Europe and the NCAA, which accounts for just under a third of their total number of prospects. In Europe, forwards Calle Jarnkrok and Teemu Pulkkinen are players who show a lot of potential for the future, especially in terms of the offense they can bring. On the back-end, Adam Almqvist, Mattias Backman, and Alexei Marchenko have all showed signs of being potential NHL defenders one day.
Photo: Defenseman Brendan Smith (Right) has gradually developed into one of the more promising puck-moving defensemen in the AHL. Smith is expected to battle for a spot in the NHL top seven as soon as the 2012-13 season. (Photo courtesy of Tony Ding/Icon SMI)
Despite continually drafting in the bottom 20 of the NHL draft, the Detroit Red Wings have managed to maintain an impressive group of prospects over the years. A number of players have stepped up this season, including Brendan Smith, Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Jurco, Xavier Ouellet, and Petr Mrazek. With young players becoming increasingly more important in the salary cap era, it is vital that the Red Wings' prospects continue to break-out if the team is to maintain their long reign of success in the NHL.
1. (1) Brendan Smith, D, 8C
Drafted 1st round, 27th overall, 2007