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.
Photo: Detroit’s signing of Western Michigan defenseman Dan DeKeyser has improved the team’s breakout and transition game (courtesy of Steven King/Icon SMI)
Below is the middle section of the Hockey's Future Spring NHL Team Rankings, the staff's ranking of each NHL team's system based on the strength of the entire prospect pool. For reference, just the top five prospects are listed. To be eligible, a prospect must meet HF's prospect criteria. The ranking is done twice a year, with this edition being an update to the Fall ranking.
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.