Red Wings 2008-09 junior prospect update

By Brandon Peleshok

The Red Wings have a total of seven prospects at the junior league level, four forwards, two defensemen and one goaltender.

Randy Cameron, C – Moncton Wildcats (QMJHL)

Acquired: 5th round, 148th overall, 2007
5’11, 175 lbs.

Cameron was a nice surprise in the fifth round for the Red Wings. The Cornwall, PEI native is known as a solid two-way forward with above average face-off skills.

In his third season with the Moncton Wildcats, Cameron has pushed to take on a more prominent role. After missing the playoffs in the 2007-08 season, Cameron and the Wildcats have turned things around and currently sit at second overall in the QMJHL.

After having back-to-back 39-point seasons, Cameron has seen a boost in his offensive numbers. He is currently tied for third on his team with 20 points in 20 games. Projected as a role player, Cameron is now looking to bring his offensive game up to par with his defensive game.

Zach Torquato, C – Eric Otters (OHL)

Acquired: 6th round, 178th overall, 2007
6’0, 195 lbs.

Also taken in the 2007 draft was Torquato. He possesses great hands and is dangerous both as a goal scorer and a playmaker. He is the Red Wings most productive current junior player.

Torquato is in his fourth year in the OHL. After playing with the high-flying Saginaw Spirit, he was traded to the cellar-dwelling Erie Otters a couple years ago. Though, his high numbers or positive attitude did not change. Last year he finished a full year with the Otters who once again missed the playoffs, allowing Torquato to play for the Grand Rapids Griffins under an amateur contract. His Otters continue to trail this year, at one game under .500.

His torrid point-per-game pace has nearly continued this season. In 2007-08, Torquato scored 67 points in 66 games. He is tied for fourth overall on the team with 18 points in 22 games. Torquato will look to improve his numbers and is likely off to Grand Rapids next season.

Stephen Johnston, LW – Belleville Bulls (OHL)

Acquired: 6th round, 181st overall, 2008
6’1, 175 lbs.

Johnston could prove to be yet another steal for the Red Wings at the draft table. Once known strictly as a role player, Johnston has evolved into an offensive threat. The man known as “Mini-Matthias” (after the ex-Wings’ prospect Shawn Matthias) is strong defensively and is now showing his offensive instincts as well.

In his first season as a Belleville Bull last year, Johnston’s team pushed the Kitchener Rangers to the limit in the OHL finals, but ultimately lost. While he was a role player then, he is now a larger piece of the puzzle for the Bulls. They currently sit in third place behind the always impressive London Knights and Windsor Spitfires.

In his rookie year with the Bulls, Johnston was only able to post nine points in 56 games. In his larger role, Johnston has shown that he can produce offensively. With 17 points in 22 games, he is currently tied for sixth on a deep Belleville team. 

Brent Raedeke, C – Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL)

Acquired: Undrafted, Signed as a free agent in 2008
6’0, 197 lbs.

Raedeke went undrafted in 2008, but that does not mean the Wings did not have their eye on him. With the Wings close to the 50-contract limit, it was not thought that they would sign any training camp try-outs, but Raedeke along with Brian Lashoff were able to convince the Wings to hand out two entry-level contracts. Raedeke’s speed and face-off skills serve as assets that the Wings covet.

Raedeke’s Oil Kings failed to make the post-season in 2007-08. Their woes continue this season as they are playing three games under .500. Though, Raedeke’s larger role with the team has allowed his offensive side to show.

In his first season with the Oil Kings, Raedeke put up 31 points in 72 games. This season he has already scored 24 points in only 27 games. This pace has allowed Raedeke to shed his role player label.

Brian Lashoff, D – Barrie Colts (OHL)

Acquired: Undrafted, Signed as a free agent in 2008
6’3, 190 lbs.

Lashoff came into Detroit’s training camp looking to impress, and was convincing enough to earn himself an entry-level contract with the club. Lashoff’s size, mobility and shot are cited as his positives. If he is able to put on some size and transition his game, he could be a third-pairing defenseman for Detroit in the future.

Last year Lashoff and his Colts were able to make it to the second round of the post-season before being swept by the Belleville Bulls. This year the club sits three games below .500 with a .440 win percentage.

Lashoff posted 20 points in 50 games last season with the Colts. This year he is carrying a similar pace with 12 points in 23 games. In his third year, Lashoff will look post better offensive numbers and continue to improve his defensive game.

Max Nicastro, D – Chicago Steel (USHL)

Acquired: 3rd round, 91st overall, 2008
6’2, 189 lbs.

Nicastro is the lone Wings prospect in American junior hockey. The 18-year-old defenseman from Thousand Oaks, California is going to take awhile to develop. He is praised for his all-around game, possessing good instincts on the offensive and defensive sides of the game. While his skills are a bit raw, the Wings brass saw something in Nicastro and plan to spend some time on the project player.

Nicastro’s Chicago Steel were able to upset the Indiana Ice in the first round of the 2007-08 playoffs before falling to the Waterloo Black Hawks. He logged top ice time with the team and was a cornerstone to their defensive corps. This year the Steel are fifth in an ultra competitive east division, but sixth overall in the league.

In 58 games last season, Nicastro was able to post 20 points, good for second on the team. This season he has nine points in 14 games, well ahead his pace from last year. Nicastro will look to finish his USHL career strong, as he heads to Boston University in the fall of 2009.

Thomas McCollum, G – Guelph Storm (OHL)

Acquired: 1st round, 30th overall, 2008
6’1, 205 lbs.

The highest-ranked Red Wings prospect in the CHL is McCollum. He impressed the brass during the Traverse City training camp and was given his entry-level contract shortly after. He hardly looked out of place amid prospects Jimmy Howard and Daniel Larsson. Known for his excellent positioning and quick reflexes, McCollum projects as a starter in the NHL.

McCollum’s Guelph Storm were able to make it to the second round of the playoffs last season. This year the Storm are in sixth overall in the OHL standings, a big part of their success coming from McCollum’s play in net. The Storm have a division low 66 goals against with McCollum in net for 21 of the 25 games played.

McCollum is currently ranked as the second best goaltender in the OHL. His 2.20 GAA and .928 save percentage are only behind the Belleville Bulls’ Mike Murphy. The numbers are also the best McCollum has posted in his three years with the Storm. If he can continue to maintain his success, McCollum will surely backstop a team in the NHL one day.