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Marchenko making his mark in Grand Rapids

Published Monday, December 23, 2013, 10:49 a.m. under 2013-14 RWC Reports
Alexey Marchenko

Alexey Marchenko (Credit: Mark Newman)

A chain of ill-timed health ailments and injuries may have slowed Alexey Marchenko’s development over the years, but — healthy now — he’s back on the prospect map in a big way.

The 21-year-old defenseman, who came to North America this fall with a season and a half of professional experience in the Kontinental Hockey League under his belt, has been a quiet standout for the Grand Rapids Griffins in his first American Hockey League campaign.

Playing in all 29 of the Griffins’ games, Marchenko not only has a sparkling plus-15 rating, he’s also among their top defense scorers with two goals and 14 assists for 16 points.

“He’s done an outstanding job all season,” said Red Wings director of player development Jiri Fischer. “He’s super smart, he moves the puck well, he doesn’t get into trouble, and defensively, he’s as safe as anybody out there. He’s just done a fantastic job.”

Marchenko missed pretty much every major IIHF junior tournament he was eligible for during his days in Russia, turning him from a highly-touted rising star to below-the-radar prospect. He had his spleen removed late in 2009-10 and missed the 2010 world under-18, then went undrafted amid concerns he wouldn’t be able to continue his hockey career.

Two years later, after the Red Wings took a chance on him with a seventh-round pick (205th overall) in 2011, he blew out his knee and missed four months recovering, costing him a chance to captain Russia as a top-pairing defenseman at the 2012 world junior.

All that appears to be behind him. With a three-year, $2.375-million entry-level contract in hand, he is fully committed to playing in North America and could join forces with Xavier Ouellet, Ryan Sproul and Mattias Backman as a huge part of Detroit’s blue-line future.

The 6-foot-2, 212-pounder isn’t a bruising physical player, he doesn’t have a booming slap shot, and he doesn’t look like a naturally-gifted skater at first glance. But the bottom line is he’s a mobile, puck-moving defenseman who is a rock in his own zone.

“He’s a deceptively good skater,” Fischer said. “He doesn’t look like the most explosive guy on the ice but he never gets beat and he always plays good angles. He can really move the puck out of the zone by making a great first pass or skating it out to the blue line and making the first pass.”

Marchenko’s other assets include his smarts — “he’s a really bright guy,” Fischer says — and his leadership ability. Fischer said he just needs to continue his adjustment to North America and learn to keep things simple, rather than look for the perfect tic-tac-toe play.

The Red Wings haven’t had a Russian-drafted player suit up for them since defenseman Dmitri Bykov (285th overall in 2001) and Pavel Datsyuk (171st overall in 1998). Marchenko is the only Russian-born player selected by the organization in the past nine drafts.

NOTES: Forwards Tomas Jurco, Riley Sheahan and Luke Glendening got the call to the NHL this week and are performing well. Jurco has two goals, an assist and a plus-3 in four games while averaging 13:29 of ice time, while Sheahan has two assists and is a plus-3 in three games while averaging 10:13 of ice time. Glendening has now appeared in 14 games and has an assist and is a minus-6 … In their absence, winger Teemu Pulkkinen has been shining for the Griffins. He has three goals and eight assists for 11 points in his past 10 games, with points in nine of those contests, and his 24 points in 29 games overall trail Jurco for the team lead by just three … Left-winger Andreas Athanasiou (Barrie, OHL) had four goals and an assist in his last game and has ascended to the top 20 scorers in his league with 45 points in 32 games … Left-winger Tyler Bertuzzi (Guelph, OHL) has been out with a neck/head injury, according to the Guelph Mercury … In Canadian exhibition play in the leadup to the IIHF world junior championship, winger Anthony Mantha has a goal and an assist in two games while goaltender Jake Paterson stopped 31 of 34 shots in a 3-0 loss to Sweden. Mantha survived Canada’s final cut, while Paterson is expected to back up Zach Fucale during the tournament … Right-winger Martin Frk was one of several players who have earned promotions to Grand Rapids due to all of the injuries in Detroit. He still doesn’t have a point in eight AHL games.

Sarah Lindenau contributed to this report.


Almquist, Adam Grand Rapids AHL PRO 26 0 17 17 20 +5 46
Callahan, Mitchell Grand Rapids AHL PRO 29 11 5 16 33 +15 67
Jurco, Tomas Grand Rapids AHL PRO 26 11 16 27 12 +12 76
Marchenko, Alexey Grand Rapids AHL PRO 29 2 14 16 6 +15 19
Sheahan, Riley Grand Rapids AHL PRO 23 6 8 14 10 +4 36
Sproul, Ryan Grand Rapids AHL PRO 29 6 13 19 14 +16 70
Glendening, Luke Grand Rapids AHL PRO 17 3 7 10 16 +8 24
Jarnkrok, Calle Grand Rapids AHL PRO 29 8 6 14 10 +12 51
Pulkkinen, Teemu Grand Rapids AHL PRO 29 10 14 24 16 +15 65
Frk, Martin Grand Rapids AHL PRO 8 0 0 0 6 -3 3
Jensen, Nick Grand Rapids AHL PRO 6 0 0 0 0 +2 1
Tvrdon, Marek Grand Rapids AHL PRO 1 0 0 0 0 0 3
Ferraro, Landon Grand Rapids AHL PRO 26 7 9 16 19 +7 69
Aubry, Louis-Marc Grand Rapids AHL PRO 3 0 0 0 5 -1 2
Fournier, Gleason Grand Rapids AHL PRO 8 0 0 0 0 +3 5
Parkes, Trevor Grand Rapids AHL PRO 3 0 0 0 2 -1 2
Nestrasil, Andrej Grand Rapids AHL PRO 23 3 4 7 12 +2 22
Ouellet, Xavier Grand Rapids AHL PRO 27 1 5 6 10 +11 36
Nedomlel, Richard Grand Rapids AHL PRO 3 0 0 0 2 -2 1
Parkes, Trevor Toledo ECHL PRO 21 13 11 24 12 -1 81
Frk, Martin Toledo ECHL PRO 15 5 8 13 10 -11 27
Nicastro, Max Toledo ECHL PRO 23 0 6 6 14 -6 47
Nedomlel, Richard Toledo ECHL PRO 12 2 1 3 55 -3 12
Tvrdon, Marek Toledo ECHL PRO 19 8 3 11 6 -8 50
Aubry, Louis-Marc Toledo ECHL PRO 10 3 2 5 6 -3 38
Jensen, Nick Toledo ECHL PRO 3 0 0 0 0 -2 4
Mantha, Anthony Val-d’Or QMJHL CHL 32 35 38 73 36 +17 180
Hudon, Philippe Victoriaville QMJHL CHL 27 10 4 14 43 -5 60
Athanasiou, Andreas Barrie OHL CHL 32 19 26 45 32 +14
Nastasiuk, Zach Owen Sound OHL CHL 35 13 17 30 16 -6
Bertuzzi, Tyler Guelph OHL CHL 29 10 25 35 49 +9
McNulty, Marc Prince George WHL CHL 32 6 10 16 65 +5
Wheaton, Mitchell Kelowna WHL CHL 18 2 11 13 16 +5
Janmark, Mattias AIK SEL EUR 29 16 8 24 48 -4 75
Backman, Mattias Linkoping SEL EUR 33 4 8 12 8 +19 39
Melen, Hampus Tingsryds SWE-J20 EUR-JR 11 0 5 5 14 -6 17
Bodin, Rasmus Linkoping SWE-J20 EUR-JR 14 0 2 2 2 -3 5
De Haas, James Clarkson ECAC NCAA 16 2 4 6 10 -1 21
Marshall, Ben Minnesota BIG-10 NCAA 15 2 3 5 27 +4 31
McKee, Mike W. Michigan BIG-10 NCAA 10 0 0 0 46 0 1
Pope, David W. Kelowna USHL/JR-A JR-A 22 8 8 16 8


Paterson, Jake Saginaw OHL 22 11 9 2 0 3.64 .900
Coreau, Jared Grand Rapids AHL 1 0 1 0 0 3.82 .846
Mrazek, Petr Grand Rapids AHL 13 10 2 1 1 2.09 .927
Coreau, Jared Toledo ECHL 9 1 5 3 0 4.42 .865
McCollum, Thomas Grand Rapids AHL 17 11 4 0 1 2.17 .927
  1. YVR says:

    My point was and I forgot to mention it (old age is no fun : some teams, when you look at their prospect list, have maybe 2-3 possible NHL’ers, so GM has to draft the best available, wheres the Wings have several possible NHL’ers so Kenny can afford to gamble by taking a player who is trending down. I would do the same think. Some bomb but then along comes Mantha, so was worth it.

  2. Greg D. says:

    Quick observation, but up until the past couple years people have always been quick to blame Holland for our lack of quality prospects, but now that we have a decent group in the pipeline, Jim Nill is given the credit and Holland is still the cancer of the organization.

  3. Levi says:

    For those who think Holland is to blame for this or that and Nill was responsible for the draft you truly are clueless. Do you think a professional hockey would put all that on one person? No. All of it is a group effort from scouts to GM to coach. Do you think Babs get no say in who they draft, highly doubtful. Pointing fingers at one person alone means your just looking for a scapegoat. It’s a team effort on the ice and in the office. Some picks bust some flourish that’s how it goes. On all that being said do I agree with all things they do, absolutely not. Ex. Cleary, Sammy and drafting McCollum over Markstrom still bugs me. But that’s how it goes they’re paid to make this decisions and if Mike Illitch wasn’t happy they wouldn’t have jobs.

  4. dcz28 says:

    Levi, Nill was responsible for the drafts and taking care of prospects and that’s a fact. The scouts and others in management gave their opinions on draft options but the final decision was his to make…that was his job with the Wings. Not sure why you would even debate this. I doubt Babcock has a lot of pull on who they draft since he likely doesn’t see most of those kids play often if at all and might not even be the coach of the team when/if they ever make it to the NHL. His job is to coach what they have now and work with Holland and what the team needs are right now…not in 3 to 5 years.

    I don’t remember people blaming Holland for the farm system in the past as it didn’t matter that much pre-cap era when they could just sign top players as UFAs to make up for all the picks and prospects they were trading for cup runs. Can’t do that much anymore since UFA markets are slim and average talents are getting paid like stars because of it. Holland has been pretty good at holding on to prospects and picks since the cap came in. My problem with Holland is only about UFA signings and trades (or lack of trades) to address real needs the team has right now since that is his main job with the Wings. The cluster of average forwards he has hoarded for the bottom 6 I am also not a fan of. Also hate that he has been handing out NTCs like candy when that should only be given to few core players. Not a fan of his recycling of former Wing players (Williams, Sammy ect…) and I also don’t like that he seems to have a hard time to tell players past their prime that it’s time for the Wings to move on waiting a year or two too long to pull the plug on them.

  5. ScottD says:

    Well if we give Nill credit then we should also give him credit for all the flops that were drafted too. Guys like Emmerton, Mursak, Axelson, Stolarov, Bykov, … Remember for all the success he brings he also has to take credit for all the failures and believe me there are plenty of failures as well.

  6. YVR says:

    To make a long story short, the GM has the FINAL say on the pick.

  7. Shawn says:

    If there’s anything obvious about Red Wing hockey, it’s that success has absolutely nothing to do with any single individual.

  8. dcz28 says:

    YVR, Yes if he wants it but Holland had Nill handle the main role at the draft. From his bio on the Wings site:

    Due to his numerous responsibilities as GM, Holland now plays a less prominent role at the NHL entry draft, after being the main point person during his seven years as amateur scouting director.

    So this basically means he had a say but it was mainly Nill’s job to run the draft.

    This is from Nill’s bio on the Dallas site:

    Nill, 55, spent a total of 19 seasons as a member of the Detroit Red Wings management team, the last 15 of those as the team’s Assistant General Manager. His responsibilities with Detroit included directing the amateur scouting department, overseeing all selections at the annual NHL Draft, as well as managing the development of the organization’s prospects at both the professional and amateur levels.

    Hopefully this will end the debate on who was doing the drafting for the Wings. Quick Launch

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