The Detroit Red Wings have been looking towards the future in the recent weeks. After completing their free-agency additions on July 1, the team has been securing many of their young draft picks to entry-level contracts.
Calle Jarnkrok was the first to sign with the Red Wings on May 30. On August 1, Martin Frk agreed to terms with Detroit on a three-year contract. And now, on August 7, the Red Wings have reached agreement on a three-year entry-level deal (as reported by mlive.com) with their 2011 draft pick Tomas Jurco.
Jurco is expected to begin next season playing for the Grand Rapids Griffins, the AHL affiliate of the Detroit Red Wings.
The No. 35 overall pick in the 2011 draft has seen success at many levels of his hockey career. He previously played three seasons for the Saint John Sea Dogs of the QMJHL, where he was an vital offensive target and slick playmaker. His career totals are an indication of that.
In 176 games with Saint John, Jurco scored 87 goals and added 88 assists. The point-per-game numbers continued into the postseason, as he had 35 points in 36 playoff appearances. He has also played for Team Slovakia in international competition.
At the 2011 Under-20 World Championships, Jurco scored a goal and six assists (via Hockeysfuture.com).
Jurco's development can be credited to playing with a star-studded cast of players in Saint John. He was joined last season by Florida prospect Jonathan Huberdeau, Wild prospects Zach Phillips and Charlie Coyle and Montreal defensive stud Nathan Beaulieu. Together, he and his teammates won the Memorial Cup as Best Major Junior Hockey Team during the 2010-2011 season.
From playing with such high talent in the junior ranks, the hope is that Jurco makes a seamless transition to the professional ranks.
Jurco has the size (6'2", 193 lbs) and ability offensively to make a quick trip from the AHL to the NHL. But he has been criticized for his lack of defensive play. The hope is that adjusting to playing at the AHL level will help him tailor his game more.
And that adjustment shouldn't take awhile. Jurco will more than likely play for Detroit in the 2013-2014 season and be used mostly for his high offensive production. But he might be one of the first call-ups this season if injuries deplete Detroit's high-octane attack.
Luckily for Detroit, they don't need to play this budding superstar right away. But when he does get the call, he will dazzle all of those in the NHL.