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.
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.
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.
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.