Detroit has an underrated group of young prospects in their system.
These days, the city of Detroit is known for three things; economic disparity, abandoned skyscrapers and the consistent regular season success of the city’s professional hockey team. Riding a 22-season playoff streak, the Detroit Red Wings success is punctuated by the fact that the franchise has not had a top-10 draft pick since 1991, when the Wings drafted right winger Martin Lapointe 10th overall in the first round of the 1991 NHL Entry Draft. In the last two decades, the Red Wings have built their success through strategic picks in the draft’s later rounds including franchise players Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg, drafted in the sixth and seventh rounds of the 1998 and 2000 Drafts. Since drafting mainstays Datsyuk and Zetterberg, the Wings have built unmitigated success acquiring overlooked players late in drafts. With their highest pick in the past five drafts being right winger Anthony Mantha (20th Overall 2013 NHL Entry Draft), look for these second round and beyond picks to lead the way into the future in Motor City.
Martin Frk –Round 2, 49th Overall, 2012 NHL Entry Draft
Coming off a Memorial Cup victory in his most productive junior season, 19-year-old right winger Martin Frk has proven himself ready for the professional level. Frk was the Halifax Moosehead’s second leading scorer last season, with 35 goals and 39 assists, trailing first round pick Jonathan Drouin in playoff scoring by just two points with 13 goals and 20 assists in the Moosehead’s postseason run. The Czech Republic native is touted by scouts for his outstanding playmaking abilities and cannoning shot. Coming off an outstanding junior season, Frk is expected to join Red Wing’s AHL affiliate and reigning Calder Cup champions the Grand Rapids Griffins next season, where he will he will begin to develop. Size and conditioning remain concerns; however, he has great upside as a top-six forward within the coming years.
Ryan Sproul – Round 2, 55th Overall, 2011 NHL Entry Draft
Sproul was named 2012-13 Ontario Hockey League Defenseman of the Year after he scored 66 points in 50 games with the Sault Ste. Marie Grey Hounds last season. The 6-foot-3, 200 pound defenseman made his pro debut in the same year, playing two games with Grand Rapids and tallying 2 PIM while going minus-1. Sproul is touted by scouts for his offensive prowess with an innate ability to utilize his size to play a physical game. The 20-year-old has tremendous upside to one day anchor the Red Wings power play. However, with such a young and capable defensive corps already in place, Sproul will get his first full taste of pro-hockey next season in Grand Rapids, where he will need to prove his ability to compete at the pro-level.
Andreas Athanasiou – Round 4, 110th Overall, 2012 NHL Entry Draft
After a career high 67 points in 66 games with the Ontario League’s Barrie Colts last season, 19-year-old left winger Andreas Anthanasiou will look to continue that success with the Colts again next season. In the previous two seasons with the London Knights, concerns surrounding Athanasiou were of inconsistency. Although he possess great upside as a powerful forward with tremendous speed, Athanasiou will need to emulate his success with the Colts next season as he builds towards a call-up to Grand Rapids.
Petr Mrazek – Round 5, 141st Overall, 2010 NHL Entry Draft
Red Wing’s No. 1 goaltending prospect Petr Mrazek made his NHL debut Feb. 7 last season, securing his first NHL victory in a 26 save performance against the St. Louis Blues. Touted by scouts for his athleticism and great vision, Mrazek demonstrated the ability to compete at the pro-level in the American League last season, sharing time between the pipes with Thomas McCollum, and posting a record of 23-16-2 in 42 games with Grand Rapids. After splitting the regular season with McCollum, Mrazek carried the full load in the playoffs, posting a record of 15-9, with a 2.31 GAA, all the way to the Calder Cup. Mrazek is NHL material, but Detroit would be wise to keep him in the minors for another season rather than rush his development. However, with such a questionable back-up in Jonas Gustavsson on the big club, Mrazek could get the call up sooner than expected.
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