The Detroit Red Wings drafted Ryan Sproul as an offensive defenseman, but it’s his defensive play that’s been most notable so far this season.
The 18-year-old has turned his plus-minus upside-down, going from one of the worst on the Sault Ste-Marie Greyhounds at minus-15 last season to a team-leading plus-18.
That’s notable because the Greyounds are a sub-.500 club with just two other players better than plus-5.
“I think I’ve made a huge improvement defensively,” Sproul told the Sault Star this week. “I was a minus-15 a year ago and defense is one of the things I’ve wanted to turn around.”
Sproul’s offense hasn’t suffered much. He already has eight goals — a pace for 16, two more than last season — and 16 assists for 24 points in 33 games. That’s tops among all blueliners on his team and fifth in the OHL.
If Sproul continues to strengthen his defensive game, the Red Wings might have gotten a gem in the second round, 55th overall, of the 2011 draft.
The six-foot-three 176-pounder is known for his booming shot and ability to run a power play. He also has good vision and moves the puck well, so there’s no shortage of upside.
Red Wings director of amateur scouting said at the draft “the sky’s the limit, once he fills out,” while Greyhounds general manager Kyle Dubas told the Sault Star this week Sproul’s play has been outstanding, yet he still has “so much more room to grow.”
The Red Wings have until June 1, 2013, to sign Sproul to a contract.
NOTES: Center Louis-Marc Aubry (Grand Rapids, AHL) is coming along nicely. In his past 10 games he has three goals and three assists — not bad for a six-foot-four pro rookie who just turned 20 last month and still has major junior eligibility … Winger Tomas Jurco (Saint John, QMJHL) has climbed to 11th in league scoring, stepping up in a big way with Jonathan Huberdeau out of the Sea Dogs’ lineup. He has 13 goals and 12 assists during a torrid 15-game stretch … Center Calle Jarnkrok (Brynas, SEL) has slowed down after an excellent start. He has just two goals and three assists in his past 13 games after putting up 15 points in his first 18 outings.
Following is this week’s statistical report.
SKATERS: REGULAR-SEASON REPORT
|Coetzee, Willie||Grand Rapids||PRO||AHL||24||5||4||9||5||-4||56|
|Ferraro, Landon||Grand Rapids||PRO||AHL||19||4||4||8||21||-2||22|
|Nyquist, Gustav||Grand Rapids||PRO||AHL||25||9||18||27||6||+1||72|
|Tatar, Tomas||Grand Rapids||PRO||AHL||25||7||13||20||17||+1||81|
|Andersson, Joakim||Grand Rapids||PRO||AHL||25||7||9||16||16||+1||53|
|Aubry, Louis-Marc||Grand Rapids||PRO||AHL||18||3||3||6||8||-4||33|
|Callahan, Mitchell||Grand Rapids||PRO||AHL||16||1||0||1||53||-3||16|
|Ehrhardt, Travis||Grand Rapids||PRO||AHL||3||0||0||0||9||-1||5|
|Lashoff, Brian||Grand Rapids||PRO||AHL||25||2||2||4||11||-11||31|
|Pare, Francis||Grand Rapids||PRO||AHL||25||3||9||12||6||-3||57|
|Parkes, Trevor||Grand Rapids||PRO||AHL||16||0||1||1||2||0||23|
|Raedeke, Brent||Grand Rapids||PRO||AHL||22||2||2||4||14||-5||23|
|Smith, Brendan||Grand Rapids||PRO||AHL||19||3||10||13||41||+2||46|
|Piche, Sebastien||Grand Rapids||PRO||AHL||13||0||2||2||7||-4||11|
|Pyett, Logan||Grand Rapids||PRO||AHL||25||0||12||12||14||+2||70|
|Nestrasil, Andrej||Grand Rapids||PRO||AHL||11||2||1||3||2||-1||17|
|Fournier, Gleason||Grand Rapids||PRO||AHL||3||1||1||2||2||0||1|
|Nedomlel, Richard||Swift Current||JR||WHL||34||3||12||15||43||-17||N/A|
|Sproul, Ryan||Sault Ste. Marie||JR||OHL||33||8||16||20||33||+17||N/A|
|Jurco, Tomas||Saint John||JR||QMJHL||30||21||24||45||25||+28||125|
|Jensen, Nick||St. Cloud State||COL||NCAA||18||1||10||11||2||+3||27|
|Nicastro, Max||Boston U.||COL||NCAA||15||1||3||4||16||0||21|
|Sheahan, Riley||Notre Dame||COL||NCAA||18||5||13||18||14||+1||58|
|Marchenko, Alexey||CSKA Moscow||EUR||KHL||4||0||0||0||2||-3||2|
GOALIES: REGULAR SEASON REPORT
|Pearce, Jordan||Grand Rapids||AHL||10||1||5||1||1||3.54||.876|
|McCollum, Thomas||Grand Rapids||AHL||7||4||3||0||0||3.17||.896|