Calle Jarnkork is Red Wings Central’s new No. 1 prospect.
The 21-year-old center for Brynas of the Swedish Elite League takes over top spot in the preliminary 2012-13 ranking, moving up after the unofficial graduation of prospects Nos. 1 and 2 — defenseman Brendan Smith and left-winger Gustav Nyquist.
Jarnkrok, the 51st overall selection in the 2010 NHL draft, continues to look like the second coming of Henrik Zetterberg, fifth in SEL scoring with 10 goals and 18 assists for 28 points in 32 games.
His combination of high skill and a non-stop motor is unmatched in the Red Wings’ system.
“He’s probably the best prospect in our organization overall,” said Red Wings director of player development Jiri Fischer. “Whenever he makes the transition overseas, he’s going to be really exciting to watch at the NHL level.”
Although Smith and Nyquist are still playing for the American Hockey League’s Grand Rapids Griffins due to the NHL lockout, they’re both expected to be regulars with the Red Wings whenever the labor dispute ends and are no longer on the RWC list.
Following is a detailed look at the preliminary 2012-13 ranking.
1. C Calle Jarnkrok (+2), Brynas (SEL), 32-10-18-28-6, -1, 89 SOG. See above.
2. G Petr Mrazek (+2), Grand Rapids (AHL), 7-2-0, 2.42 GAA, .912 SV%. Long a favorite of RWC, Mrazek — fresh out of junior — has been sensational as an AHL rookie. He looks like the potential No. 1 NHL goaltender the Red Wings hoped Thomas McCollum would be.
3. LW Tomas Tatar (+2), Grand Rapids (AHL), 22-11-10-21-19, +5, 63 SOG. Already in his fourth AHL season, Tatar is only 22. Showcasing his offensive ability and a maturing all-around game, he’s proving during the lockout he’s ready for an NHL job.
4. C Riley Sheahan (+2), Grand Rapids (AHL), 20-4-4-8-14, +7, 28 SOG. Sheahan is adjusting well to the AHL, but another off-ice incident — charged in November with driving with blood-alcohol content of .17 or higher — is a sign he needs to get his act together.
5. RW Tomas Jurco (+2), Grand Rapids (AHL), 22-4-3-7-10, -3, 31 SOG. Jurco won’t turn 20 until the end of December, so he’s an extremely young AHL rookie who is finding his bearings. With patience, he has the look of a high-scoring pro with top-six upside.
6. D Ryan Sproul (+2), Sault Ste. Marie (OHL), 16-5-16-21-23, even. A late cut from Canada’s world junior team, the 6-foot-3 Sproul has recovered from a broken arm and is one of the best offensive defensemen in the entire Canadian Hockey League.
7. D Xavier Ouellet (+3), Blainville-B’briand (QMJHL), 26-5-20-25-30, +9, 94 SOG. Ouellet continues to improve each season. An offensive force who will play for the Canadian world junior team, the Red Wings see him as a two-way top-four NHL defender.
8. C Landon Ferraro (+10), Grand Rapids (AHL), 22-8-9-17-23, +6, 51 SOG. RWC’s highest riser has developed into an excellent two-way pro after finishing his junior career with two awful seasons. He’s posting breakout numbers and is killing penalties with aplomb.
9. C Joakim Andersson (–), Grand Rapids (AHL), 21-6-7-13-45, -2, 49 SOG. The book has always been the same on Andersson. He’s going to play in the NHL, but is he a career fourth-liner or is there more upside? We won’t know until he gets there.
10. RW Martin Frk (NR), Halifax (QMJHL), 28-13-25-38-52, +9, 87 SOG. Everyone loves Frk’s intimidating slap shot and above-average skills. But he needs to work on skating and maturity, while his habit of taking dumb penalties might be getting worse rather than better.
11. G Jake Paterson (NR), Saginaw (OHL), 11-12-2-1, 1 SO, 3.49 GAA, .901 SV%. Although his statistics aren’t eye-popping, Paterson is playing excellent hockey on a below average team. He’s in the spotlight now that he’s made Canada’s world junior team.
12. LW Teemu Pulkkinen (-1), Jokerit (FIN), 31-6-6-12-41, even, 138 SOG. Pulkkinen’s offensive numbers have mysteriously vanished but he clearly has the ability to produce more. He’s earned the benefit of the doubt for now, but he’ll need to find his scoring touch.
14. D Mattias Backman (+3), Frolunda (SEL), 31-0-14-14-20, +3, 35 SOG. A smooth two-way defender, Backman is only 20 years old and is constantly improving. Already a top-four blueliner in the Swedish Elite League, he still has room to grow.
15. D Nick Jensen (-3), St. Cloud State (NCAA), 16-1-11-12-8, +3, 26 SOG. The swift-skating defenseman is having another good year, although he has untapped offensive upside. His true breakout season might not come until he is a senior in 2013-14.
16. LW Marek Tvrdon (-3), Vancouver (WHL), 18-8-14-22-16, +2. A blood clot has ended Tvrdon’s season, but the Red Wings have already signed the big, skilled Slovak. He has tremendous upside but needs to pick up his work ethic and consistency.
17. LW Andreas Athanasiou (NR), Barrie (OHL), 30-15-18-33-18, +9. The Red Wings are convinced the blazing fast Athanasiou will play in the NHL, and he’s certainly showing the right this stuff. He has broken out since a much-needed trade from London.
19. C Alan Quine (–), Peterborough (OHL), 18-8-11-19-10, -12. Quine has returned from mononucleosis and hasn’t missed a beat. That’s great to see, and if he can build off his strong start, he should have a line on a contract before his June 1 signing deadline.
20. D Alexei Marchenko (–), CSKA Moscow (KHL), 31-4-3-7-4, +1, 27 SOG. Marchenko is a darkhorse prospect with tremendous upside. He’s a KHL regular now and it might not be long before he’s moving quickly up this chart now that he’s finally healthy.