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: Finishing the season with an OHL championship and an appearance at the Memorial Cup, defenseman Scott Harrington easily saw the most post-season success of any Penguin prospect. (Aaron Bell/CHL Images)
Only two years ago an extended run in the NHL post-season was a seeming right of passage for the Pittsburgh Penguins organization and their rabid fanbase. But after two consecutive appearances in the Stanley Cup Finals in 2008 and 2009, the Penguins have experienced dramatic early post-season upsets, the first in 2011 against the Tampa Bay Lightning and most recently in 2012 to the Philadelphia Flyers.
President/GM: Larry Kish
Coach: Terry Christensen
Southern Conference/Southeast Division
Last Season: 27-34-9
Leading Scorer: Brett Punchard 26-38- 64
Key Players: Matt Oates, Alexi Krovopuskov, Jeff McLean, Kimbi Daniels and Wes Swinson
Outlook: Injuries hurt the Tiger Sharks last year. Along with failed trades, an assistant coach leaving the team and the General Manager leaving before the season was over. Larry Kish brought his affiliations with the Montreal Canadiens and the Edmonton Oilers with him. Terry Christensen is back behind the Tiger Sharks bench, after coaching the Miami Matadors last season. If Kish is able to secure quality players from the Habs and Oilers, the Tiger Sharks should make the playoffs.
Up Front: The only player in camp with a contract is Matt Oates (24-74-81 with Columbus 10th in the ECHL), if Jeff McLean shows up (24-26-50 with South Carolina and Tallahassee), Alexi Krovopuskov (6-9-15), Kimbi Daniels (11-28-39 with New Orleans), play together and stay injury free, the numbers they put-up could be staggering.
Defense: With only three non rookies in camp the Tiger Sharks are going to need to rely heavily on Wes Swinson (4-29-33, with Miami and Tallahassee) and Alexandre LaPorte (3-15-18 with Augusta and Tallahassee) to lead the defensive corps, providing they make the team. If Swinson stays healthy, he can direct the power play while LaPorte plays his stay at home defensive game.