Photo: The Red Wings traded down from 18th to 20th overall and still added a talented goal-scorer to the coffers in Val-d’Or winger Anthony Mantha (courtesy of Rich Graessle/Icon SMI)
The Detroit Red Wings entered the 2013 NHL Draft with the 18th overall selection, their earliest first round pick since the beginning of the 1990s. This understandably led to high expectations in the Motor City and the Red Wings did not disappoint, dealing their first round pick to San Jose for the 20th and 58th overall picks. Detroit then wasted no time in selecting the draft's lone 50 goal-scorer in Anthony Mantha before bolstering the system with gritty, skilled two-way forwards and hulking defensemen.
Photo: Detroit’s 21st overall pick in 2010, used to select Riley Sheahan, was the team’s only first round draft choice in the past four years (courtesy of Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images)
The Detroit Red Wings 2013 NHL Draft position should pique the interest of even the most jaded Wings fan. Detroit holds the 18th overall selection, their highest pick since the organization took Martin Lapointe with the 10th overall in the 1991 NHL Entry Draft. Considering that the Red Wings did not have a first round selection in the 2009, 2011, and 2012 NHL Drafts, having the 18th overall pick in a year that features what is generally considered to be a very deep draft class is cause for excitement.
Photo: Center Joakim Andersson was a steady presence for the Red Wings during the Stanley Cup Playoffs and has since rejoined Grand Rapids in the Calder Cup Finals (courtesy of Tony Ding/Icon SMI)
Playoff success may be the Detroit Red Wings' calling card, but this season it was not just the NHL club that experienced an extended postseason run. The Red Wings took the Chicago Blackhaws to seven games before bowing out in the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and this may have been a blessing in disguise for Detroit. A number of players were able to be sent down to the AHL's Grand Rapids Griffins, who are having the most notable playoff run in the organization; they are currently battling the Syracuse Crunch for the Calder Cup and hold a 2-0 series advantage after a pair of road victories to begin the series. Red Wings prospects also had significant success in the NCAA Tournament and the Mastercard Memorial Cup tournament.
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: St. Cloud State defenseman Nick Jensen, the WCHA Defensive Player of the Year, helped lead his team to it’s first Frozen Four appearance in school history (courtesy of Jeanine Leech/Icon SMI)
Any team that loses three of its top six defensemen over the course of two seasons is bound to experience some growing pains as the organization looks to reload. While the current Detroit Red Wings roster may feature a blue line in flux, the future looks bright for Detroit's defensive depth. The Red Wings have a number of defensemen in their system that have developed their game a great deal during the 2012-13 season, including some who have already joined the NHL club. Detroit may have fewer forwards playing in the NCAA or Europe than defensemen but that is not an indictment of their quality, as that group features at least two players who appear to be future NHL players.