Photo: Puck-moving defenseman Xavier Ouellet was taken in the second round of the 2011 NHL Draft. (Photo courtesy of Ken McKenna/HF)
Despite all of their playoff and regular season success over the past number of years, the Detroit Red Wings have still managed to draft some talented prospects. While none of the players will stand out as blue-chip prospects, Detroit does have notable depth – especially at the forward position.
The Red Wings are probably strongest at the left wing in terms of pure talent, even though it has the lowest number of prospects among the forwards ranks. Right wing and center are fairly strong as well, boasting talent, grit, and defensive savvy.
On the blue line, Detroit will be looking to some 2011 draftees – Xavier Ouellet and Ryan Sproul – to bolster a pool of prospects that has not met expectations. While there is surely talent on amongst the defense corps, there are also several question marks. The Red Wings' goaltending depth is in a similar situation as well, with several prospects not meeting their expected potential.
Photo: Tomas Jurco has all of the tools to one day develop into a top-six sniper for the Red Wings. (Photo courtesy of Ken McKenna/HF)
Brendan Smith remains the highest ranked prospects in the Red Wings system, and new additions to the list include Tomas Jurco, Xavier Ouellet, and Ryan Sproul. Goaltender Daniel Larsson has made the most significant move, falling off the top 20 list completely.
1. (1) Brendan Smith, D, 8.0C
Drafted 1st round, 27th overall, 2007
Photo: Philippe Hudon will be attending Cornell University in the fall. (Photo courtesy of DJ Powers/HF)
The Red Wings maintained their recent trend of looking towards the CHL with their early picks and adding depth later in the draft with prospects playing overseas. The team's first five selections all came from Canadian Major Junior leagues, with six total CHL picks in the 2011 draft class equally distributed among the QMJHL, OHL, and WHL.
Detroit made nine total selections in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft and came away with five defensemen and four forwards. The club traded their first round pick (24th overall) to Ottawa in exchange for a pair of second round picks at 35th and 48th, and the team still came away with a prospect considered by many a first round talent. With the blue line a hot topic of debate in Detroit after the retirement of Brian Rafalski, the team added a pair of high-end defensive prospects in the second round. Three more defensemen were added late in the draft, strengthening one of the system's weaker positions.
Regardless of where they pick in the NHL Draft, the Detroit Red Wings always seem able to find NHL-caliber players to populate the team's talent pipeline. With that in mind, we preview the Wings' 2011 NHL Draft.
Top 10 prospects:
1. Brendan Smith, D
2. Tomas Tatar, C
3. Jan Mursak, LW
4. Gustav Nyquist, C
5. Teemu Pulkkinen, LW
6. Riley Sheahan, C
7. Calle Jarnkrok, C
8. Andrej Nestrasil, C
9. Landon Ferraro, C
10. Mitchell Callahan, RW