Nick Jensen generally flies under the radar, but he’s quietly developed into one of the Detroit Red Wings best defense prospects.
Not in the organization’s top 10 prospects as ranked by The Hockey News or Red Wings Central, Jensen was recently named Western Collegiate Hockey Association defensive player of the year and will represent the St. Cloud State Huskies at the Frozen Four in Pittsburgh next weekend.
His continued strong play, especially late in the year, is cause for optimism, especially when you factor in that the organization has several other outstanding defensive prospects: Ryan Sproul, Xavier Ouellet, Mattias Backman and Alexey Marchenko.
“Every game I’ve seen him, he was the hardest competitive guy (on the ice) and he’s got the heart of a lion,” said Red Wings director of player development Jiri Fischer. “He’s in people’s faces, he’s taking people’s space away thanks to his skating, and he makes great outlet passes. He’s had a great year and we’re really happy with his development.”
Jensen, a 6-foot-1, 193-pound junior, has four goals and 27 assists for 31 points in 41 games, tops among St. Cloud State’s blueliners, while recording a plus-22 rating and 73 shots.
He’s come a long way since being drafted in the fifth round (150th overall) in 2009 from the United States Hockey League’s Green Bay Gamblers. At the time, the Red Wings considered him a brilliant skater with raw offensive potential and weren’t sure how his all-around game would develop.
Fischer wouldn’t comment on whether Jensen would be signed to forego his senior season at St. Cloud State, but he’s turning 23 in September and has matured physically to the point where he could likely step into an American Hockey League lineup.
Another Red Wings defense prospect, Ben Marshall of the heavily favoured Minnesota Golden Gophers, saw his season come to an end last week short of the Frozen Four with a 3-2 overtime loss to the Yale Bulldogs.
Fischer said Marshall had a great second half after starting the year bouncing between defense and forward due to the Gophers’ incredible depth. The 5-foot-9, 183-pound sophomore has received significant power-play time since then and had eight goals and 11 assists for 19 points in 40 games along with a plus-eight rating and 73 shots.
“Ben really found a way to establish himself — he runs the power play, he’s making great plays, he’s a top-four defenseman every night,” Fischer said prior to the loss to Yale. “He’s finding ways to get acclimated to the college level and how to produce.”
Marshall will return to Minnesota for his junior season and the Red Wings will be looking for him to increase his production even more.
NOTES: Goaltender Jake Paterson (Saginaw, OHL) and defensemen Ryan Sproul (Sault Ste. Marie, OHL) and Richard Nedomlel (Swift Current, WHL) have all been eliminated from the CHL playoffs … Winger Teemu Pulkkinen (Jokerit, Finnish SM-Liiga) had a productive first round before his team was eliminated, with two goals and three assists in six games … Winger Philippe Hudon (Victoriaville, QMJHL) is a long-shot to earn a contract, but he did score five goals in five games in the Tigres’ first-round upset of the Moncton Wildcats … The Red Wings’ top minor-league affiliate, the Grand Rapids Grifins, lead the AHL’s Midwest Division with a 39-23-6 record Center Calle Jarnkrok (Grand Rapids, AHL) has no points in four games since coming over from Sweden … Winger Tomas Jurco (Grand Rapids, AHL) is on a good scoring run, with four goals and five assists in 14 games … Forward Louis-Marc Aubry (Grand Rapids, AHL) earned a one-game suspension for a check to the head last week. He was also suspended for six games earlier this season for leaving the bench to join an altercation … The Red Wings signed Western Michigan defenseman Danny DeKeyser to a two-year contract last week. DeKeyser was ranked as Red Line Report’s No. 1 college free agent, described by the publication as an NHL-ready “stay-at-home” defenseman who is a “strong all-compass skater.” “He’s physical and wins battles down low, keeps the crease clear and plays with a nasty edge,” the report reads. “Outstanding penalty killer who blocks a ton of shots.”
SKATERS: REGULAR-SEASON REPORT
|Jarnkrok, Calle||Grand Rapids||AHL||AHL||4||0||0||0||0||+2||4|
|Nyquist, Gustav||Grand Rapids||AHL||AHL||58||23||37||60||34||+10||169|
|Ferraro, Landon||Grand Rapids||AHL||AHL||65||19||19||38||44||+2||134|
|Andersson, Joakim||Grand Rapids||AHL||AHL||36||10||17||27||55||+1||84|
|Parkes, Trevor||Grand Rapids||AHL||AHL||34||3||6||9||35||+6||39|
|Lashoff, Brian||Grand Rapids||AHL||AHL||37||2||4||6||23||+6||40|
|Tatar, Tomas||Grand Rapids||AHL||AHL||54||22||24||46||48||+10||183|
|Almquist, Adam||Grand Rapids||AHL||AHL||61||9||19||28||32||+9||81|
|Nicastro, Max||Grand Rapids||AHL||AHL||23||1||2||3||10||0||17|
|Raedeke, Brent||Grand Rapids||AHL||AHL||35||3||6||9||41||+1||27|
|Sheahan, Riley||Grand Rapids||AHL||AHL||66||16||19||35||31||+7||100|
|Aubry, Louis-Marc||Grand Rapids||AHL||AHL||57||4||8||12||55||+2||72|
|Callahan, Mitchell||Grand Rapids||AHL||AHL||63||11||9||20||88||-2||122|
|Jurco, Tomas||Grand Rapids||AHL||AHL||66||11||12||23||20||+3||104|
|Fournier, Gleason||Grand Rapids||AHL||AHL||23||1||4||5||23||-2||17|
|Nestrasil, Andrej||Grand Rapids||AHL||AHL||21||3||3||6||2||+1||24|
|Coetzee, Willie||Grand Rapids||AHL||AHL||1||0||0||0||0||-1||0|
|Jensen, Nick||St. Cloud State||WCHA||NCAA||41||4||27||31||14||+22||73|
|De Haas, James||Penticton||BCHL||USHL/JR-A||53||5||19||24||19||–||–|
|Sproul, Ryan||Sault Ste. Marie||OHL||CHL||50||20||46||66||45||0||–|
|Nedomlel, Richard||Swift Current||WHL||CHL||72||7||21||28||105||-13||–|
|Marchenko, Alexey||CSKA Moscow||KHL||EUR||44||4||5||9||6||-2||46|
GOALIES: REGULAR SEASON REPORT
|McCollum, Thomas||Grand Rapids||AHL||28||15||11||3||2||2.71||.902|
|Pearce, Jordan||Grand Rapids||AHL||4||0||3||0||0||4.32||.847|
|Mrazek, Petr||Grand Rapids||AHL||37||21||13||2||1||2.37||.915|
SKATERS: PLAYOFF REPORT
|Marchenko, Alexey||CSKA Moscow||KHL||EUR||7||0||0||0||0||-1||5|
|Sproul, Ryan||Sault Ste. Marie||OHL||CHL||6||2||3||5||0||-4||–|
|Nedomlel, Richard||Swift Current||WHL||CHL||5||0||1||1||2||-2||–|
|De Haas, James||Penticton||BCHL||USHL/JR-A||8||3||3||6||6||–||–|
GOALIES: PLAYOFF REPORT