When the puck is on his stick, there are few junior-aged defense prospects in the world with more upside than Ryan Sproul.
The just-turned 20-year-old has taken another step forward with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds in the Ontario Hockey League, scoring at a scintillating clip with 14 goals and 22 assists for 36 points in just 29 games.
Despite missing six weeks with a broken arm, Sproul’s 1.24 points-per-game average ranks second only to Boston Bruins rookie Dougie Hamilton (1.28) among Canadian Hockey League blueliners and he is rapidly closing in on Cody Ceci for the OHL defense scoring lead.
“He’s a dominant go-to offensive power-play guy who I think is offensively as good as anyone in major junior hockey,” said Red Wings director of player development Jiri Fischer, prior to the end of the lockout.
Sproul, who is measured at 6-foot-3 and 186 pounds, is known for his cannon of a point shot but also has tremendous vision. He is a devastating presence on the power-play point, with eight goals and eight assists while his team has the advantage.
A late cut from Canada’s world junior team, Sproul is still growing into his frame and might not realize how good he can be yet. And as he heads to the pro level next season with a three-year contract already signed, Sproul — a second-round pick in 2011 — is going to have to step it up in his own zone to earn the trust of American Hockey League coaches.
“He still has a lot of work to do in the D-zone and all-around game and how to be a little harder to play against, against the best players in the league,” Fischer said.
NOTES: Forward Riley Sheahan (Grand Rapids, AHL) told MLive.com he is trying “to be a good person off the ice” after being arrested for drunken driving in October. On the ice, he has seven goals and three assists in his past 14 games as an AHL rookie … Forward Joakim Andersson (Grand Rapids, AHL) is battling with Tomas Tatar for the right to be the first forward recalled from Grand Rapids, and he had two goals and five assists in two games to win AHL player of the week honours … Goaltender Petr Mrazek (Grand Rapids, AHL) is being rewarded for his outstanding rookie season with a spot in the AHL all-star team on the Western Conference roster … Defenseman Brian Lashoff (Grand Rapids, AHL) has taken advantage of the injury-depleted blue line in Detroit. Although he has battled injuries and struggled to find his footing on the Griffins’ second and third pairings over the past few seasons, he’s earned the trust of Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock in two games since his call-up. “Actually, I thought he was better here than in the American League, maybe because the game’s more organized,” Babcock told MLive.com. “But he made good decisions. He’s a big man, he showed good hands, was great on the penalty kill — four-on-three penalty with him, Pav (Datsyuk) and (Henrik Zetterberg) on it, he did a heck of a job.” … Defenseman Xavier Ouellet represented Canada at the world junior championship earlier this month and had a goal, two assists, 18 shots and an even plus-minus rating in six games. Goaltender Jake Paterson served as the third-stringer and did not play. Right-winger Martin Frk played for the Czech Republic and had three goals, an assist, 18 shots and a minus-1 in six games … Forward Alan Quine was involved in an OHL trade earlier this month, dealt from Peterborough to Belleville for three second-round draft picks.
Following is this week’s statistical report.
SKATERS: REGULAR-SEASON REPORT
|Ferraro, Landon||Grand Rapids||AHL||PRO||39||16||16||32||29||+4||87|
|Andersson, Joakim||Grand Rapids||AHL||PRO||30||10||14||24||49||0||70|
|Parkes, Trevor||Grand Rapids||AHL||PRO||25||3||4||7||26||+4||23|
|Lashoff, Brian||Grand Rapids||AHL||PRO||36||2||4||6||23||+4||38|
|Tatar, Tomas||Grand Rapids||AHL||PRO||39||15||18||33||44||+9||133|
|Almqvist, Adam||Grand Rapids||AHL||PRO||36||4||11||15||22||+5||50|
|Nicastro, Max||Grand Rapids||AHL||PRO||9||1||1||2||5||+3||7|
|Raedeke, Brent||Grand Rapids||AHL||PRO||22||2||4||6||28||-2||17|
|Sheahan, Riley||Grand Rapids||AHL||PRO||37||12||7||19||21||+13||59|
|Aubry, Louis-Marc||Grand Rapids||AHL||PRO||36||1||4||5||33||-1||49|
|Callahan, Mitchell||Grand Rapids||AHL||PRO||34||5||4||9||61||+1||48|
|Jurco, Tomas||Grand Rapids||AHL||PRO||37||5||5||10||12||-5||45|
|Fournier, Gleason||Grand Rapids||AHL||PRO||8||1||1||2||21||-4||5|
|Jensen, Nick||St. Cloud State||WCHA||NCAA||24||3||16||19||10||+9||35|
|De Haas, James||Penticton||USHL/JR-A||BCHL||39||4||16||20||17||–||–|
|Sproul, Ryan||Sault Ste. Marie||CHL||OHL||29||14||22||36||31||+4||–|
|Nedomlel, Richard||Swift Current||CHL||WHL||48||2||17||19||77||-12||–|
|Marchenko, Alexei||CSKA Moscow||EUR||KHL||39||4||5||9||6||0||40|
GOALIES: REGULAR SEASON REPORT
|McCollum, Thomas||Grand Rapids||AHL||17||10||6||1||1||2.69||.899|
|Pearce, Jordan||Grand Rapids||AHL||3||0||3||0||0||4.38||.847|
|Mrazek, Petr||Grand Rapids||AHL||20||13||5||1||0||2.33||.913|