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: 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.
Photo: Defenseman Brendon Dillon (right) is among the top rookie defensemen in the NHL this season. Dillon was signed by the Stars as an undrafted free agent in March 2011. (courtesy of Rich Lam/Getty Images)
Welcome to the February 2013 edition of On the Rush, a monthly column featuring prospects at various competition levels who are either exceeding expectations or falling a little behind. This edition features a number of defensemen who have asserted themselves recently, both offensively and in their own zone. We also check in on a pair of WCHA netminders who are experiencing opposite fortunes as their season winds down.
Photo: Swedish forward Calle Jarnkrok, currently playing with Brynas in the SEL, is the cream of the crop at center for the Detroit Red Wings prospect pool. (courtesy of Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
A paradigm shift occurred for the Detroit Red Wings after the 2004-05 NHL lockout. Gone were the days where Detroit would readily hand out early-round draft picks in exchange for veteran NHL talent. Instead, Detroit decided that they would need to hold on to their draft choices in order to build a prospect pool with skill and size that would help them compete in the new-look NHL.
Photo: Defenseman Brendan Smith has been developing steadily in the AHL and may now be ready for full-time NHL duty with the Detroit Red Wings (courtesy of Rocky Widner/Getty Images)
After an offseason of unprecedented change, the Detroit Red Wings' prospects will be relied upon more than they have been in over a decade to have an impact at the NHL level.