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 Tim Erixon, shown here with the Rangers, is now among the top prospects in the Columbus Blue Jackets' system. (courtesy of Rich Kane/Icon SMI)
The Fall edition of Hockey's Future's Top 50 NHL prospect rankings has been released, but there are always talented prospects who did not make the cut. Whether through recent sub-par performances or the lack of high-end potential compared to some of their peers, these players were considered for the ranking but did not ultimately crack the Top 50.
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.
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: Tomas Jurco (DET) is one of many drafted players on the Saint John Sea Dogs roster. Jurco managed 30 goals in only 48 regular season games in 2011-12. (Photo courtesy of Dave Connell/HF)
There are plenty of reasons why the Saint John Sea Dogs are the favorite to repeat not just as QMJHL champions this year, but also to successfully defend their Memorial Cup win from last season.
First and foremost, the Sea Dogs were the top team in the regular season for a record-setting third consecutive year. They've followed that momentum into the playoffs, where they are currently in the third round and so far have out-scored their opponents by a combined total of 79-28.
All this offensive firepower is thanks to the depth of the Sea Dogs roster and no where is that depth more noticeable than when you consider the forwards on Saint John's roster in the context of the top forwards in the QMJHL.