The Red Wings are widely regarded as one of the premier franchises in the NHL, in part because of their remarkable streak of 24 consecutive appearances in the playoffs. Another reason the Wings are regarded so highly is their commitment to slowly developing their prospects.
Detroit takes their time with prospects allowing them to develop in junior and the AHL until there is no question they are ready to compete in the NHL.
That philosophy coupled with an outstanding draft record has allowed the Red Wings to maintain their competitive edge and the pipeline has continued to produce and replenish the roster.
1. Dylan Larkin: Centre – 6’1” / 190 lbs
Drafted: Fifteenth overall in the first round of the 2014 draft by the Detroit Red Wings.
Larkin had a monster season scoring 47 points in 35 games with Michigan in the Big Ten. Larkin was also impressive in international hockey when he represented USA at the WJC scoring five goals and seven points in five games. He made the USA WC roster and looked very impressive playing against NHL talent despite his modest scoring results of one assist in ten games. Larkin will turn pro and given the Wings M.O., will probably be headed to Grand Rapids for the upcoming season before working his way up the depth chart. Larkin is a key piece to the Red Wings future and has first line potential. Keep an eye on Larkin, he could arrive sooner than later.
“Larkin has shown he can be an elite-level power forward in addition to showing a high level of offensive ability. His ability to take the puck hard to the net allows for unique scoring chances most players would not be able get because of a lack of size and strength.” Aaron Vickers – Future Considerations
2. Anthony Mantha: Right/Left Wing – 6’5” / 214 lbs
Drafted: Twentieth overall in the first round of the 2013 draft by the Detroit Red Wings.
Following his impressive draft year in which Mantha scored 50 goals, he returned to junior and scored at a goal per game pace through the regular season and playoffs all the way to the Memorial Cup, earning a spot on the Canadian WJC team as well. After a dominant final season in junior, and with NHL size, there was even thought he could walk right onto a top six roster spot with the big club. But a broken leg at training camp derailed that notion. Mantha was underwhelming in his rookie AHL season scoring 15 goals and 33 points in 62 games and was described as “Very, Very, very disappointing” by Jim Devellano the Wings Senior Vice President. Despite disappointing some more in 16 playoff games scoring only two goals and four points, expectations are still high for Mantha to establish his goal scoring prowess at the pro level and quickly establish himself as a top six scoring winger with Detroit.
Mantha is purely and simply a goal scorer. He has a great frame that he uses to fight through traffic, solid puck awareness and offensive positioning, all topped with a heavy wrister that he can fire quickly and smoothly. For a player of his size, he skates very well but he needs to keep his feet moving and work hard on both sides of the puck. Mantha is does not mind physical play and will willingly engage in battles, but can sometimes be goaded into undisciplined penalties. – Hockeys Future
3. Evgeni Svechnikov: Left Wing – 6’2” / 199 lbs
Drafted: Nineteenth overall in the 2015 draft by Detroit.
Svechnikov had an impressive North American debut, playing for the Screaming Eagles scoring 78 points in 55 games. Considered to be a one dimensional scoring player, he really excels at that one dimension. He has good size, but he could be more aggressive. Svechnikov will be returning to Cape Breton for another year in junior and after that expect Detroit to season him some more in Grand Rapids to allow him to develop at the pro level.
Incredibly skilled offensive winger. Has a remarkably accurate shot to go along with some magic hands. Could be better defensively, but his game is based around his acute sense of what is happening on the ice in the offensive zone. All-in-all, a deadly player who possesses good size, elite-level skill, and smooth skating – Elite Prospects
4. Alexey Marchenko: Defence – 6’3” / 210 lbs
Drafted: 205th in the seventh round in the 2011 draft by Detroit.
Marchenko was called up twice in the season, playing a combined 13 games and scoring his first NHL goal. Marchenko also saw some playoff games and played almost 17 minutes a game. While his offensive and fantasy upside may have a lower ceiling than some of the other Wings prospects, he is on the verge of becoming an NHL regular who is solid defensively and should eventually settle into a middle pairing role.
Marchenko is a very aggressive player, a strong skater, and one who projects long term as more of a defensive defenseman. He put up points in the lower levels, however his style of play is more suited to a shut down, physical role than one of a player who will excel offensively. There is some scoring ability, as evidence by his MHL totals, but it’s not the defining trait of his game. Has shown an increased ability to read plays and make breakout passes from his own zone. Hockeys Future
5. Landon Ferraro: Right Wing – 6’0” / 186 lbs
Drafted: 32nd overall in the second round of the 2009 draft by Detroit.
Ferraro played in his fourth season in the AHL and his scoring totals have been rather consistent, reaching a career highs in goals with 27, a plus -14 and 61 PIM’s. He also played in three NHL regular season games, notching his first NHL goal. He played in all seven playoff games, seeing just oven ten minutes a game on average. He has a legit chance to make the Wings out of training camp as he has nothing left to prove or learn at the AHL level.
Ferraro plays a mature game. He is a trustworthy forward who can contribute in all three zones. In many ways, the consummate Red Wings forward, like a young Dan Cleary, or more recently Darren Helm or Justin Abdelkader. Could probably contribute in the NHL right now and seems likely to force himself into the lineup by the start of next season. – Hockey Prospectus
6. Xavier Ouellet: Defence – 6’1” / 200 lbs
Drafted: 48th overall in the second round of the 2011 draft by Detroit.
Ouellett barely makes this list as he has played exactly 25 career NHL games which is the cut off. Last season he played in 21 NHL games and scored his first two goals. With only two seasons of AHL seasoning under his belt, he will probably see some time split between the two leagues along with Ryan Sproul, and Marchenko. Ouellet is arguably the best puck mover of the three and has the best fantasy upside.
Ouellet is an offensively talented blue liner who is attentive to his defensive game in his own zone. He is poised at both ends of the ice and has the ability to quarterback a power play. He plays a mature game and was trusted with a big role on a veteran team. Ouellet is just scratching the surface of his potential and should continue to improve as he gets stronger and improves his skating. – Hockeys Future
7. Andreas Athanasiou: Centre – 6’2” / 192 lbs
Drafted: 110th overall in the fourth round of the 2012 draft by Detroit.
I have long been a fan of AA as he has blazing speed and silky soft hands. He can combine the two attributes to handle the puck while at top speed. He also has jaw dropping moves in the shootout. In his rookie AHL season he was impressive scoring 32 points and was used in a variety of situations, on the PK, PP and in crucial situations. AA needs some more seasoning in the AHL, but he is trending quickly in the right direction.
Fantastic skating, big offensive talent, massively naturally talented and strong, big ego–right on the edge between incredibly confident in himself and incredibly full of himself–and Ken Holland and Jiri Fischer hit the nail on the head in pointing out that he skates like Darren Helm, but he has the talent to be a much more offensively impactful player… Kuklas Korner
8. Tyler Bertuzzi: Left Wing – 6’0” / 178 lbs
Drafted: 58th overall in the second round of the 2013 draft by Detroit
The nephew of former Red Wing Todd Bertuzzi, Tyler had a slow start to his OHL career partially due to injuries, but had a breakout 98 point final season in 68 games. He then made his pro debut in Grand Rapids final two games where he scored his first pro goal. Bertuzzi impressed further in the playoffs where he scored 12 points in 14 games and did not look out of place. He will get a full season in the AHL, but if this preview is a sign of things to come, he has a very bright future in the NHL.
Although injuries marred his draft +1 season, Bertuzzi returned before Guelph’s playoff run in 2014, putting up a point per game during the OHL playoffs and Memorial Cup. Fully healthy now, the former second round pick has taken his game to the next level, replacing the offense lost to the graduations of Kerby Rychel, Scott Kosmachuk and Brock McGinn, as well as some of the lost leadership, sporting an ‘A’ on his chest for the Storm. Signed to an ELC by Detroit early this season, Bertuzzi looks ready for the next challenge. His intelligence puts him a cut above at the OHL level, where mid-way through his fourth season in the circuit, he has already established career highs in goals, assists and points while cutting down on the rough-housing. While he would receive an NHL cameo earlier in another organization, will be well-served with the Wings’ slow approach to development. Could use 1.5 seasons in the AHL to adjust his game to situations wherein he is smaller by comparison and where his intelligence is not as remarkable. Future ceiling as second line winger. – Hockey Prospectus
9. Axel Holmstrom: Centre – 6’0 / 198 lbs
Drafted: 196th overall in the seventh round of the 2014 draft by Detroit
Holmstrom had a strong season in his first pro year; while he only scored 20 points in 44 regular season games with Skelleftea, he had a monster playoff scoring 18 points in 15 games. Holmstrom was also impressive at the WJC scoring seven points in seven games. Since being drafted his stock has skyrocketed as he was a relatively unknown. While he may turn out to be a huge steal in the seventh round, his ceiling is probably as a third line centre.
For a projected 3rd line center/winger in the NHL, Axel Holmstrom has received a lot of international praise in the last year. He’s a gritty player who seems to enjoy playing a grinding game and going to the dirty areas of the ice and going to the front of the net. The smart, skilled, gritty center has good hands and hockey sense and his stock continues to rise. – Winging it in Motown
10. Tomas Nosek: Left Wing – 6’3” / 210 lbs
Acquired: Signed as a undrafted free agent in 2014
An injury limited Nosek to 55 games in his AHL rookie season, but he still managed to produce 34 points despite any lingering effects of the hand injury. Nosek improved offensively in the post season scoring seven points in 12 games. Nosek may not have a high offensive ceiling, but he is a versatile player that is defensively responsible with good size. He is already 23 and close should get a look at the NHL this season and just may stick in a depth role.
Nosek is a versatile forward from the Czech Republic who can play on both the penalty kill and power play. Hampered by injuries early in his junior career, he has steadily improved and plays a strong two-way game. Nosek has a good work ethic and is willing to go into the corners and more difficult areas of the ice to create scoring opportunities. – Hockeys Future
Recent Roster Graduations: Teemu Pulkkinen, Petr Mrazek, Tomas Jurco, Gustav Nyquist, Riley SheahanTomas Tatar
Honorable Mention: Joe Hicketts, Dominic Turgeon, Ryan Sproul, Zach Nastasiuk
Players under 25 years old and with less than 25 career NHL games played qualify as a prospect for purpose of this list.
Written by Peter Harling, who can be found on twitter @pharling