This year has already proven to be one of the best for Junior Hockey. With a labor strife in the NHL, the game's best and brightest young stars were sent back to play for their semi-pro teams.
Here, we have seen junior hockey leagues like the Ontario Hockey League filled with a cesspool of NHL-owned prospects lighting up the stat sheet. In addition, some of the game's brightest young pros are grinding it out in the AHL with a large backing.
In the case of the Detroit Red Wings, many of their young talent was sent either overseas or are currently playing with the Grand Rapids Griffins, the AHL affiliate of Detroit.
Here is a quick look at some of the team's best prospects:
Andreas Athanasiou, Left Wing/Barrie Colts: An offseason trade to Barrie has sparked an offensive outburst to start the 2012 OHL season for Athanasiou. Drafted by Detroit at 110th overall in the 2012 Draft, Athanasiou added a goal and an assist on Saturday against Niagara. He has seven goals and nine assists in 15 games and is now becoming a primary scoring threat on the Colts' front end.
Martin Frk, Right Wing/Halifax Mooseheads: The 49th overall pick in 2012 Draft has picked up where he left off during last year's injury-shortened campaign. Frk added two assists to his point total for 2012-13. He currently has 14 points in 13 games. Frk has remained aggressive on both sides of the puck this season. He currently has 24 PIM and continues to bring an edge out on the ice. The Mooseheads will continue to roll out Frk with potential No. 1 pick Nathan MacKinnon and Andrew Ryan as the season rolls on.
Calle Jarnkrok, Center/Brynas IF (Sweden): With one more year remaining on his deal in his native Sweden, Jarnkrok is tailoring his game to a North American style. The 51st overall pick in the 2010 NHL Draft is quickly making strides within the organization's prospect boards. In 18 games, Calle has two goals and 13 assists. He leads his team in scoring but is struggling in the faceoff dot, winning only 45.81 percent of his faceoffs. The future will still be near for Jarnkrok in Detroit.
Petr Mrazek, Goalie/Grand Rapids Griffins: This was the season where Mrazek was expected to take the next big step: play semi-professional hockey. After three successful seasons playing for the Ottawa 67's in the Ontario Hockey League, Mrazek is getting his time playing against AHL talent. He started the season with the Toledo Walleye of the ECHL, where he made three starts. That's the start of hopefully more consistent starts in Grand Rapids and no bouncing between GR and Toledo.
Gustav Nyquist, Center/Grand Rapids Griffins: During Nyquist's 18-game stretch in the NHL, he dazzled many scouts with his flashy puck skills and strong hockey IQ. He has continued to elevate his game down at Grand Rapids. In just seven games, he leads the Griffins in scoring with four goals and five assists. He also leads Grand Rapids in shots on goal (26). Nyquist has quickly become a leader in Grand Rapids and a capable scorer. Now, the hope is that this AHL dominance can quickly translate to a full NHL season.
Xavier Ouellet, Defense/Armada (QMJHL): After having a 60-point season in 2011-12, this 48th overall draft pick from 2011 has stormed out to a strong 2012-13 campaign. In 16 games, he has a total of 18 points (3 Goals, 15 Assists). He has played top four minutes and become a part of Armada's main special teams units. This shows in his plus-8 he already accrued during those 16 games. At only 19, there is still a lot of time to groom this prospect and let him become a top-four defenseman.
Marek Tvrdon, Left Wing/Vancouver Giants: Red Wings fans may not be familiar with this 2011 Draft pick's game. Tvrdon is a left wing with an NHL-ready body (6'2", 211 lbs). He plays a great two-way game that has had helped find a niche in the Western Hockey League. It has led to him reducing his six penalty minutes this season and also lead the team in scoring (17 points in 14 games). He is only 19 and still has a lot of time to groom in the junior rankings. Yet, do not be surprised if this Slovak finds a way to Grand Rapids next season and even pushes for an NHL call up in the near future.
Please stay tuned every Wednesday to see a new rendition of this prospects report. All other information can be found on the Red Wings Prospects page and also by clicking on the respective team's league page for stats, bios and more.
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