DRW Prospect Tournament | Top Prospects

Just like every year, the Detroit Red Wings Prospect Tournament ended far sooner than I wanted it to. Only being there a few days still allows ample time to see the stand-out players. After about fifteen hours alternating between Centre Ice Arena’s West and David’s rinks, I have selected my top three prospects (amended from five).

Stick tap please…

Geno the Machino (Evgeny Svechnikov)

I can’t claim ownership of that nickname, but it works. Ever since I first saw Evgeny Svechnikov take the ice with the Grand Rapids Griffins, his distinct style captured my attention. Perhaps its my nostalgic side, but there’s something akin to the Russian five in how he plays – not solely because he too, is Russian.

Svechnikov
Detroit Red Wings prospect, Svechnikov, during warmups at the 2017 DRW Prospect Tournament

The Calder Cup champ has improved, in my opinion, over the summer. His passes were crisper and it even seems as though he’s gotten faster. The Wings are in a developmental stage of the organization, and they could definitely use his youthful legs and puck handling. He’s worth a good look.

 

DomTurg
Dominic Turgeon practices with teammate, Svechnikov, at 2017 DRW Prospect Tournament

Turg (Dominic Turgeon)

 

This young center was definitely the center of my attention. Having 18 points to his name during the 16-17 regular season and 2 additional points during the Griffs’ Calder Cup run, Dom has proven his worth. There’s nothing fancy about this kid based on the “McDavid” standards – just a step below superhero – but his vision, footwork and leadership capabilities at such a young age are promising. He had a keen sense of puck placement every shift and did a great job battling along the boards.

 

The Golden Boy – Vili Saarijarvi

The Red Wings’ new golden boy did not disappoint. With a build and style much like the Griffin’s Joe Hicketts, Vili is among the exceptions to the “bigger is better” philosophy when it comes to defense. Being a nuisance to his opponents in the corners and silencing nay-sayers with his speed, young Saarijarvi has a very promising career. Speed isn’t everything however, and there is room to improve. Landing a spot with the Griffs for the 17-18 season will surely develop his existing defensive skills to the pro caliber.

My favorite thing about this kid, is envisioning he and Hicketts being pint-sized best buds.

Saarijarvi
Saarijarvi (D) warms up during 2017 DRW Prospect Tournament

Though the Wings did not place in this year’s tournament, the young talent coming up through the minors gives me hope for future seasons. Detroit fans are learning that development takes time. As a fan, I understand the frustration. The demands of the game are changing, and through events like the Prospect Tournament, teams are able to meet those demands with a new generation of hockey player.

 

 

 

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DRW Prospect 2017

It is almost my favorite time of year! Though I try not to wish for the summer to disappear to make way for the inevitable blanket of snow that is soon to follow, I can’t help but get excited for the arrival of fall. Its Prospect season! Centre Ice Arena will once again host the youngsters who hope to be donning the winged wheel officially as a part of the NHL.

A display of talent and poise, the Prospect Tournament is where I, as a more AHL-focused writer, get the unique opportunity to see fresh legs from around the world, prove their worth under the scrupulous eyes of scouts and suits from the NHL. I’ll be watching five young men currently holding roster spots and assessing their growth and potential. Who those young men are will be revealed during the tenure of the tournament but to say I am thrilled would be grossly underestimating my elation.

The roster is released, the schedule is set and all that is left to do is to make it Traverse City and reacquaint myself with the familiar smell of the ice.  I couldn’t imagine any better way to say “farewell” to the summer than spending 14 consecutive hours watching hockey.

ProspectRoster2017

Development Camp 2017

The weeks leading up to Development Camp have been eventful to say the very least. Centre Ice Arena in Traverse City will be hosting the slew of young-blood coming down the pipes! I will be keeping tabs on these boys from the 7th to the 9th with great anticipation and excitement.

Holland and his fellow big-wigs have taken a lot of flack in recent weeks and I look forward to seeing a few redeeming figures on the ice to justify his actions. The position of GM is one not generally smiled upon by franchise fan bases so I hope that the fans, myself included, will have reignited faith in their management after Development Camp. I am confident that there will be a few diamonds in the rough.

Courtesy of the Detroit Red Wings, below is the roster for this year’s development! Stay tuned for photos and player performance reviews!

Player Position 2016-17 Team Acquired
Jack Adams RW Fargo (USHL) 2017 6th Rd. (162nd overall)
Christoffer Ehn C Frolunda (SHL) 2014 4th Rd. (106th overall)
Mattias Elfstrom LW Malmo (Swe-Jr.) 2016 7th Rd. (197th overall)
Zach Gallant C Peterborough (OHL) 2017 3rd Rd. (83rd overall)
Brady Gilmour C Saginaw (OHL) 2017 7th Rd. (193rd overall)
Chase Pearson C Maine (HE) 2015 5th Rd. (140th overall)
David Pope LW Omaha (NCHC) 2013 4th Rd. (109th overall)
Michael Rasmussen C Tri-City (WHL) 2017 1st Rd. (9th overall)
Dylan Sadowy LW Grand Rapids (AHL) Trade with San Jose, 5/26/16
Givani Smith RW Guelph (OHL) 2016 2nd Rd. (46th overall)
Lane Zablocki C Regina/Red Deer (WHL) 2017 3rd Rd. (79th overall)
Oliver Castleman RW Niagara (OHL) Camp Invitee
Luke Esposito C Harvard (ECAC) Signed by Griffins, 4/12/17
Isaac Johnson C Des Moines (USHL) Camp Invitee
Sean Josling C Sarnia (OHL) Camp Invitee
Luke Kutkevicius C Hamilton (OHL) Camp Invitee
Tommy Marchin LW Brown (ECAC) Camp Invitee
Michael Pastujov LW U.S. National U18 Team Camp Invitee
Dominik Shine RW Northern Michigan (WCHA) Signed by Griffins, 3/14/17
Graham Slaggert C U.S. National U18 Team Camp Invitee
Brett Supinski C Union (ECAC) Camp Invitee

DEFENSEMEN (18)

Player Position 2016-17 Team Acquired
Dennis Cholowski D St. Cloud State (NCHC) 2016 1st Rd. (20th overall)
Cole Fraser D Peterborough (OHL) 2017 5th Rd. (131st overall)
Patrick Holway D Maine (HE) 2015 6th Rd. (170th overall)
Filip Hronek D Saginaw (OHL) 2016 2nd Rd. (53rd overall)
Kasper Kotkansalo D Sioux Falls (USHL) 2017 3rd Rd. (71st overall)
Gustav Lindstrom D Almtuna (Swe-2) 2017 2nd Rd. (38th overall)
Alfons Malmstrom D Orebro (Swe-Jr.) 2016 4th Rd. (107th overall)
Vili Saarijarvi D Mississauga (OHL) 2015 3rd Rd. (73rd overall)
Jordan Sambrook D Erie (OHL) 2016 5th Rd. (137th overall)
Malte Setkov D Malmo (Swe-Jr.) 2017 4th Rd. (100th overall)
Libor Sulak D Orli Znojmo (EBEL) Signed Free Agent, 5/24/17
Reilly Webb D Hamilton (OHL) 2017 6th Rd. (164th overall)
Tomas Dvorak D Karlovy Vary (Czech) Camp Invitee
Mitch Eliot D Michigan State (B10) Camp Invitee
Evan Fiala D Spokane/Saskatoon (WHL) Camp Invitee
Adam Larkin D Yale (ECAC) Camp Invitee
Patrick McCarron D Cornell (ECAC) Signed by Griffins, 3/28/17
Alex Peters D Flint (OHL) Camp Invitee

GOALTENDERS (6)

Player Position 2016-17 Team Acquired
Filip Larsson G Djurgarden (Swe-Jr.) 2016 6th Rd. (167th overall)
Matej Machovsky G Plzen (Czech) Signed Free Agent, 5/2/17
Keith Petruzzelli G Muskegon (USHL) 2017 3rd Rd. (88th overall)
Chase Perry G RPI (ECAC) 2014 5th Rd. (136th overall)
Joren van Pottelberghe G Davos (NLA) 2015 4th Rd. (110th overall)
Chicago Blackhawks G Thu. 7:30 p.m.
Kaden Fulcher G Hamilton (OHL) Camp Invitee

Nose Goes | Las Vegas Nabs Tomas Nosek

Nosek
Tomas Nosek warms up prior to Game 6 of Calder Cup Finals

The NHL Expansion Draft had the hockey world up in arms. As all eyes focused on the fate of Petr Mrazek, who was exposed instead of veteran goaltender, Jimmy Howard, Vegas set their sits on Red Wings Prospect, Tomas Nosek.

Still reveling in the aftermath of a Calder Cup victory with the Grand Rapids Griffins, Detroit’s primary AHL affiliate, Nosek was summoned to pack his bags and head out west. Nosek netted 10 playoff goals and 12 assists during the Griffins’ Calder Cup run, adding to his already glimmering report card for the season – so its no surprise that he caught the infant Las Vegas Gold Nights’ eye.

Getting his start in his home country of the Czech Republic, Nosek immediately had the attention of the Red Wings scouting staff who constantly patrol the European leagues for new talent. Nosek’s smooth skating, humble disposition and ability to find the back of the net quickly elevated him to the status of crowd favorite during his tenure with Grand Rapids.

The AHL is an ever-shifting league and unfortunately, fans are accustomed to seeing their favorites move on. Though fans want nothing more than to see players achieve their ultimate dream, playing in the NHL, the process of watching one go to a non-affiliate team is a tough pill to swallow. Nosek has proven to be a valuable and skilled player.

As the Expansion Draft drama ends and the official NHL Draft begins, Detroit is at a crossroads flanked by impatient fans and bad contracts. The loss of Nosek has only increased tensions between the fan base and Detroit upper management. Maintaining a strangle hold on the organization, the ever present salary cap paired with expensive existing players was not relieved with the expansion, but remains the same. In short, we lost a solid winger and gained nothing.

For now however, I say farewell to Nosek. Putting aside the drama of organized sports and expansion drafts, I will fondly remember watching you play. Take care, friend. I think I speak for all of Grand Rapids when I say, you will be missed but we wish you every success.

Cracking the Code | Jared Coreau

Jenae - Guest Writer

Guest Writer: Jenae

There is only one position in hockey other than the referees that gets more flak from fans than any other position. There is only one position other than the referees that fans blame more and become “experts” on in the 60+ minutes of hockey. Goal-tending is a sore subject for Red Wings fans, me included. The goalie is easy to blame and jeer. It seems their names always fit the piercing chants of the crowd just right, isn’t that so? I’ll admit I let my fair share of “GET BACK IN YOUR NET!” comments slide because we know better, right? I remember watching the 08’ Stanley Cup Playoffs when Mike Babcock replaced goaltender Dominik Hasek with Chris Osgood in the Western Conference Quarterfinals after the Predators were able to get three goals in between the posts (who else wants them to take the Cup this year?) Osgood ended up finishing the series and taking us to face our nemesis the Colorado Avalanche. Needless to say that moment left my stomach in my throat. Everyone knows that when a goalie is pulled the coach and the team need the ice back under their skates.

This time around I am not the goalie jeerer and I believe that credit should be given where it is due. Jared Coreau has been starting with the Grand Rapids Griffin’s since the first game of the playoffs against the Milwaukee Admirals. Measuring a staggering 6’ 6” and weighing in at 220lbs, Coreau has proven he can stand the pressure between the pipes. The four year American Hockey League professional maintains a 0.935 save percentage and has even done time with our affiliate the Detroit Red Wings. Having a goalie you can depend on a must if a hockey team is going to advance any playoff round (not to mention it makes the fans a bit easier too). Being a self-proclaimed goalie snob myself, Coreau deserves to be looked at for more than to marvel his sheer giant stature.

The Grand Rapids Griffins have the chance to win the Calder Cup. It’s a mathematical formula that when you combine Coach Todd Nelson with weathered players such as Tyler Bertuzzi (39), Mitch Callahan (15), Tomas Nosek (19), Captain Nathan Paetsch (4), Robbie Russo (5), etc. and put Jared Coreau in net the result is a win on May 20, 2017 for Grand Rapids in game one of round three. The San Jose Barracuda will come out guns blazing considering this is their first Conference Finals in franchise history. Both of our teams have made it this far – which means both teams are very talented. This next series will be a strenuous test of skill and energy with the commute, but with solid goaltending for our Griffins we can rest at ease that they will play their hearts out. Bring back the Cup!

The Man – The Machine – MVP | Tyler Bertuzzi

Jenae - Guest Writer

Guest Writer: Jenae

Who has two thumbs and is psyched about playoff hockey? This girl. As a die-hard hockey fan, playoff hockey time is a new breed of the sport. Tensions are higher. All of the sudden this team you’ve beaten eight times in regulation and over-time combined stands between your team and the Calder Cup. The Grand Rapids Griffins have proven they are the team to beat in this post season. Boasting a sweep of the Milwaukee Admirals in the first round, the Griffins are hungrier than ever to get that cup back to the Freezer on Fulton. As in any playoff series, every player is anxious to be the difference maker. Every facet of the team is important. From the equipment manager to the goaltender – they all bring either success or failure to their team. Is there one that stands out from the rest these two series? To me, there are many. With such deep talent in the Griffin’s team, standing out is a task in itself. For me, the most valuable player of the Grand Rapids Griffins of these two series has been my personal favorite Tyler Bertuzzi.

What makes a player stand out in the American Hockey League? What is it that makes them the star of the game or the one that is noticed by coaches and teams around the National and American Hockey League? Three things can help a player stand out: well-rounded playing style, being a play maker and defensive offense. Personally, I remember watching Tyler Bertuzzi’s Uncle, Todd Bertuzzi, with the Detroit Red Wings. He was a rough and scruffy forward we acquired first from Florida in 2007 and then from Calgary in 2009. Naturally hearing number 39 (Bertuzzi) came from such genes is a great start already. Tyler Bertuzzi has often been heralded as “the guy looking for a fight.” In the beginning of his first professional season he gleaned 133 penalty minutes and 30 points in 71 games.  Coming into the 2016-17 season it seems he was focused on shaping his game more when his penalty minutes reduced to 37 and points in 48 games raise to 37. Being the primary affiliate of the Red Wings, Griffins fans are accustomed to a gentleman’s team (even the Wing’s Grind Line of the 90’s had their class). While the hockey fans only watching for the fights let out a deep *sigh* we remember Griff’s players don’t throw the first punch, but will defend their club to whatever end. Bert has not only contributed 8 points through these seven games of the playoffs, but has accrued 16 penalty minutes thus far. Bertuzzi has matured his playing style. He isn’t the goon, but he isn’t going to sit and let his face get beat in. He gets the goals, assists and penalty minutes.

I am my loudest at a game when Bert gets on the ice. I’m sure the fans surrounding me get annoyed with my constant and monotonous, “Bert…Bert…BERT!” fan-girl chanting. How can I help when he’s always all over the ice making plays happen? First he’s on the left, then he’s in the middle, then he’s screening, then he’s hitting, then he’s going to the sin-bin on a bogus call (well, sometimes bogus). Whatever the play and whomever the team, Bertuzzi is constantly on the puck. Certainly his five assists and three goals so far speak for themselves. He is the player that an opposing team dreads facing and if he weren’t a Griffin he’d be the player the Griffin’s fans dreaded. If the other team wants to clear their zone, if they want a point, if they want the puck – they have to go through number 39 (Bertuzzi) first.

Like all MVP’s, one needs to be careful to remember that there is always improvement. No one is where they want to be with their game and the Griffin’s tireless work ethic suggests that fact already. A team that has advanced to this championship cannot be overlooked. Speaking in regards of my MVP and the team as a whole, the biggest fact the Griffins need to remember is to keep the opposing team out of their head and their game. Some teams (ahem, Wolves) are always going to bully and distract from the game. Points win, not penalty minutes. Defend yourselves and your team. Get that Lindbohm (14), Sterling (29) and Agozzino (9) – but get those points too.

On a final note to you, our Griffins and for all you crazy Griffin’s fans out there to chant wherever you are…BEAT. THE. WOLVES.