Red Wings Central RSS

Blueline depth gets shot in the arm

Published Tuesday, April 3, 2012, 10:14 p.m. under 2011-12 RWC Reports
Ryan Sproul

Ryan Sproul (Credit: Aaron Bell/OHL Images)

Last season, the Detroit Red Wings were paper thin in organizational defensive depth. Now, their blueline is quietly becoming a position of strength.

The savvy draft selections of Xavier Ouellet, Ryan Sproul and Mattias Backman, combined with the steady development of Nick Jensen, Adam Almquist and Brian Lashoff, gives the Red Wings a half-dozen prospects with a shot at becoming NHL defensemen.

It’s those blueliners who are fighting to be the Red Wings’ top defense prospect with Brendan Smith on the verge of official graduation to the NHL.

Ouellet holds that title in Red Wings Central’s mid-season ranking, checking in at No. 10, while it’s Sproul who got the nod from The Hockey News, taking the No. 10 spot on that list. Both were second-rounders in last June’s draft — Ouellet at No. 48 and Sproul at No. 55 —both enjoyed tremendous campaigns, and both signed three-year entry-level contracts last week.

Ouellet is one of three finalists for the QMJHL’s Emile Bouchard Trophy as the league’s top defenseman after recording 21 goals and 39 assists for 60 points in 63 games, including 44 points in his final 35 games while captaining the surprising Blainville-Boisbriand Armada to the QMJHL’s third playoff seed.

Sproul scored an OHL-best 23 goals this season while finishing third with 54 points in 61 games with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds. More importantly, he made strides in his defensive game, improving last season’s plus-minus by a whopping 31 slots to plus-16.

The 6-foot Ouellet is considered a slightly more polished two-way defenseman, while the 6-foot-3 Sproul is more of a raw, high-upside project with a cannon of a shot from the point.

The 6-foot-2 Backman, meanwhile, established himself as a Swedish Elite League regular at age 19 and ended up logging top-four minutes for Sweden en route to a gold medal at the IIHF world junior championship in January.

The wildcard of the group might be the 6-foot-1 Jensen, who doesn’t get the attention of prospects but had a tremendous NCAA sophomore season at St. Cloud State. He’s the best skater of the bunch by a country mile and had 32 points in 39 games, including 21 in his final 21 contests.

Almquist, an undersized power-play quarterback, and Lashoff, a Brad Stuart defensive type, have been working hard to establish themselves at higher professional levels.

The Red Wings had several other strong seasons from defensemen, including Ben Marshall with the Minnesota Golden Gophers and Richard Nedomlel with the Swift Current Broncos. Meanwhile, Alexey Marchenko of CSKA Moscow is a favorite of the Red Wings scouts but barely played because of injuries.

NOTES: Forward Calle Jarnkrok (Brynas, SEL) is tied for sixth in playoff scoring with 10 points in 11 games to help his team qualify for the league final. He’s also second in the league with a plus-10 rating … Defenseman Adam Almquist (Grand Rapids, AHL) joined the Griffins after finishing his Swedish Elite League season with HV-71. He’s played in two AHL games … Forward Riley Sheahan (Grand Rapids, AHL) has a goal and an assist in his first six professional games … Forward Francis Pare (Grand Rapids, AHL) was named was named the Griffins’ Man of the Year for his contributions to the community … Goaltender Petr Mrazek (Ottawa, OHL) helped his team get out of the first round of the playoffs with a .934 save percentage while facing close to 38 shots per game. Ouellet and winger Tomas Jurco (Saint John, QMJHL) are the only other junior players still alive in the chase for the Memorial Cup … The aforementioned Marshall is vying for an NCAA championship at the Frozen Four in Tampa, Fla., this weekend.

Following is this week’s statistical report.

SKATERS: REGULAR-SEASON REPORT

NAME TEAM LEVEL LEAGUE GP G A P PIM +/- SOG
Coetzee, Willie Grand Rapids PRO AHL 54 9 11 20 23 -5 125
Ferraro, Landon Grand Rapids PRO AHL 56 9 11 20 47 -6 87
Nyquist, Gustav Grand Rapids PRO AHL 56 22 36 58 18 +7 152
Tatar, Tomas Grand Rapids PRO AHL 69 19 30 49 39 +2 199
Andersson, Joakim Grand Rapids PRO AHL 66 18 26 44 28 +4 130
Aubry, Louis-Marc Grand Rapids PRO AHL 55 5 9 14 32 -6 85
Callahan, Mitchell Grand Rapids PRO AHL 48 6 3 9 103 -3 58
Ehrhardt, Travis Grand Rapids PRO AHL 34 1 4 5 19 +8 37
Lashoff, Brian Grand Rapids PRO AHL 69 7 11 18 37 -9 96
Pare, Francis Grand Rapids PRO AHL 68 14 28 42 14 -6 157
Parkes, Trevor Grand Rapids PRO AHL 44 2 6 8 23 0 66
Raedeke, Brent Grand Rapids PRO AHL 57 11 7 18 28 0 94
Smith, Brendan Grand Rapids PRO AHL 50 10 24 34 78 +5 101
Pyett, Logan Grand Rapids PRO AHL 66 2 21 23 48 -4 149
Nestrasil, Andrej Grand Rapids PRO AHL 18 2 1 3 2 -4 20
Fournier, Gleason Grand Rapids PRO AHL 13 1 3 4 14 0 4
Sheahan, Riley Grand Rapids PRO AHL 6 1 1 2 0 -2 5
Almquist, Adam Grand Rapids PRO AHL 2 0 0 0 0 -1 0
Fournier, Gleason Toledo PRO ECHL 55 2 16 18 32 -9 101
Nestrasil, Andrej Toledo PRO ECHL 51 7 22 29 20 -10 88
Parkes, Trevor Toledo PRO ECHL 4 4 0 4 2 +1 17
Ouellet, Xavier B.-Boisbriand JR QMJHL 63 21 39 60 67 +16 202
Macek, Brooks Calgary JR WHL 54 14 24 38 19 +8 N/A
Nedomlel, Richard Swift Current JR WHL 72 10 36 46 83 -35 N/A
Tvrdon, Marek Vancouver JR WHL 60 31 43 74 62 +1 N/A
Sproul, Ryan Sault Ste. Marie JR OHL 61 23 31 54 53 +16 N/A
Quine, Alan Peterborough JR OHL 65 30 40 70 21 -19 N/A
Jurco, Tomas Saint John JR QMJHL 48 30 38 68 37 +46 186
Hudon, Philippe Victoriaville JR QMJHL 34 3 2 5 29 -3 65
Jensen, Nick St. Cloud State COL NCAA 39 6 26 32 4 +14 68
Nicastro, Max Boston U. COL NCAA 27 3 6 9 32 -2 41
Cayer, Julien Clarkson COL NCAA 30 6 4 10 30 -4 50
Marshall, Ben Minnesota COL NCAA 40 4 9 13 31 +14 76
Sheahan, Riley Notre Dame COL NCAA 37 9 16 25 24 0 118
Pulkkinen, Teemu Jokerit EUR FIN 56 16 21 37 41 0 235
Almquist, Adam HV-71 EUR SEL 42 3 8 11 26 +16 66
Axelsson, Dick MoDo EUR SEL 36 9 11 20 59 -7 79
Jarnkrok, Calle Brynas EUR SEL 50 16 23 39 22 -3 109
Backman, Mattias Linkoping EUR SEL 42 1 7 8 14 +7 60
Marchenko, Alexey CSKA Moscow EUR KHL 6 0 0 0 2 -4 3
Marchenko, Alexey CSKA Moscow EUR-JR MHL 5 2 4 6 10 +2 7

GOALIES: REGULAR SEASON REPORT

NAME TEAM LEAGUE GP W L O/S SO GAA SV%
Mrazek, Petr Ottawa OHL 50 30 13 6 3 2.84 .917
Pearce, Jordan Grand Rapids AHL 17 3 7 1 1 3.53 .874
McCollum, Thomas Grand Rapids AHL 22 9 12 0 0 3.48 .893
McCollum, Thomas Toledo ECHL 15 6 6 2 0 2.62 .909
Pearce, Jordan Toledo ECHL 2 1 1 0 0 4.05 .879

SKATERS: PLAYOFF REPORT

NAME TEAM LEVEL LEAGUE GP G A P PIM +/- SOG
Marchenko, Alexey CSKA Moscow EUR KHL 5 0 0 0 4 -1 8
Axelsson, Dick MoDo EUR SEL 6 2 1 3 18 -1 13
Jarnkrok, Calle Brynas EUR SEL 11 4 6 10 10 +10 29
Almquist, Adam HV-71 EUR SEL 3 0 1 1 4 +3 2
Ouellet, Xavier Blainville-Boisbriand JR QMJHL 4 1 3 4 4 +6 13
Jurco, Tomas Saint John JR QMJHL 4 3 8 11 2 +6 11
Hudon, Philippe Victoriaville JR QMJHL 4 0 0 0 2 -2 4
Macek, Brooks Calgary JR WHL 5 1 2 3 0 0 N/A
Tvrdon, Marek Vancouver JR WHL 6 3 3 6 0 -4 N/A

GOALIES: PLAYOFF REPORT

NAME TEAM LEAGUE GP W L SO GAA SV%
Mrazek, Petr Ottawa OHL 6 4 2 0 2.43 .934
10 Comments
  1. Wes Nichols says:

    great article looking forward to the next one

  2. Joakim says:

    Great article as always. This group of prospects is simple phenomenal, 10-20 young quality hockey players, well-rounded with both depth and high-end skill.

    Calle Järnkrok is having a tremendous postseason in Sweden. He’s one of the most valuable forwards in the SEL, and all the rage among Sweden’s hockey-writers. If he continues to develop, he could well be the league MVP next season.

  3. Mike Suggs says:

    Holy crap. Jurco is averaging like 3 points per game in the playoffs for Saint John. I’ve been following them all season, so I know they’re setting all kinds of scoring records this post-season (i.e. its’ not just Jurco), but still pretty damn impressive. That team is STACKED offensively (Jurco, Huberdeau, Coyle, Phillips).

    Same goes for Jarnkrok. About a point per game in the SEL, and he improved his regular season numbers on top of it. Now if he could just keep bulking up. Too bad Jokerit didn’t make the playoffs in Finland; I wanted to see what Pulkkinen could do in the post-season.

    Ouellet and Sproul are a couple of guys to get excited about as well.

    Lastly, someone posted in the forum that Sproul, Quine, and Nedomlel all joined the Griffins along with Almqvist. None of these guys are 20, so don’t they have to go back to their respective CHL teams after the season is over? Or do they have the same late birthday situation as Jurco?

  4. Beastman says:

    Hey Mike,

    Quine and Nedomlel will have to go back to their CHL teams, but Almqvist can stay since he was playing overseas. Will be nice to see how he does with some quality playing time.

    Jokerit also made the playoffs and start into their second round today. Pulkkinen didn’t play at all in the first series, but I thought I saw him playing in the minors which I don’t really understand. Can anyone shed some light on that?

    Thanks,
    Beast

  5. rich says:

    Thanks for the new RWC!

  6. Mike Suggs says:

    Beast,

    Thanks for the update. I just assumed Jokerit didn’t make it since I didn’t see any playoff stats for Pulkkinen on any of the stats sites. I hope he isn’t hurt or got demoted for some strange reason. I know his scoring was down from last season, but from what I hear the whole team struggled this year.

    Yea I figured Almqvist would stay since he was playing in Europe which is good. I was just curious because since the other guys can’t play, are they sort of like the Griffins’ black aces or something? I can’t remember the Wings having guys go to GR like that before, though we haven’t had this good of a farm system in a while either.

  7. Joe says:

    Pulkkinen apparently has some sort of leg injury, I guess he was sent to juniors to see if he could play through it but he wasn’t able to. Not sure when he’ll be back.

  8. Samuel says:

    Just wanted to show you guys a clip of Järnkroks niffty move from Brynäs last game against färjestad http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oc9j3pDZgYU watch from 1:48

    I’m convinced that Järnkrok will become a great NHL-player one of these days!

  9. Lbones7 says:

    Anyone notice how mike Babcock really goes out of his way to talk about the teams lack of size? Rift b/n him and Holland?

  10. tcornell says:

    I would like to know the rules other than contract when a player can leave t

    he ohl,qmjmlor whl.also part of the reason I’m to big on signing Parise is because of his size Red Wings don’t need another 5’11” forward to get pushed around.



CapGeek.com Quick Launch

» Cap Chart » Reserve List » Depth Chart



  • Archives

  • Categories

  • Media Watch

    Red Wings 5, Kings 2: Gustav Nyquist s ...
    www.mlive.com | Yesterday 10:08 pm
    Pavel Datsyuk has scored at least one goal in three consecutive games and has eight points in five games as the Red Wing ... More »

    Second-period analysis: Red Wings 4, K ...
    www.mlive.com | Yesterday 9:16 pm
    The Kings scored the only goal of the period after Jimmy Howard thought he had frozen the puck following a save on Mike ... More »

    First-period analysis: Red Wings 4, Ki ...
    www.mlive.com | Yesterday 8:21 pm
    Gustav Nyquist scored a pair of power-play goals as the Red Wings tallied four times on their first 11 shots.… ... More »

    Live updates: Detroit Red Wings vs. Lo ...
    www.mlive.com | Yesterday 6:30 pm
    The Red Wings are 18-4-1 at home against Los Angeles over the past 13 seasons and have won eight of the last nine meetin ... More »

    Detroit Red Wings Gameday: Tough early ...
    www.mlive.com | Yesterday 3:03 pm
    The eight teams the Red Wings have played this season have a combined record of 46-26-9, include both conference leaders ... More »

    Red Wings prepared for 'human eraser' ...
    www.mlive.com | Yesterday 12:49 pm
    The Red Wings are 7-2-0 in their past nine games against the Kings, who've won the Stanley Cup in two of the past t ... More »

    Red Wings will place Stephen Weiss on ...
    www.mlive.com | Yesterday 11:55 am
    Coach Mike Babcock said Weiss, out with a groin pull, can't become "mental mush" because of his issues th ... More »

    Ask Ansar: On improving the Red Wings' ...
    www.mlive.com | Yesterday 6:05 am
    Could Anthony Mantha help boost the Red Wings' offense in the second half of the season?… ... More »

    Red Wings ready for Stanley Cup champi ...
    www.mlive.com | Thursday, October 30 11:30 pm
    Red Wings have had success vs. Los Angeles, winning seven of their last nine meetings and going 18-4-1 in their past 23 ... More »

    Coaches challenge system? Expanded vid ...
    www.mlive.com | Thursday, October 30 7:03 pm
    An obvious blown call didn't cost the Red Wings on Wednesday but they've felt burned by other instances.&helli ... More »