Red Wings: Ranking the 6 Brightest Futures of the Current Red Wings
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For many years, the biggest criticism of the Detroit Red Wings was the age of their players. Their players had immense talent but they were also taking valuable spots from their promising young talent.
It was also evident that some of these players just saw their skill diminish. Yet management would still try to tap what was left of that talent and then let it hang up the skates.
The model for the Red Wings has slowly began to change as many of their key pieces have decided to move on to new endeavors. Instead of letting prospects "rot" in the system, GM Ken Holland has been curious the past few seasons and seeing what his kids have to offer.
He also has let foreign players develop at their pace in their respective leagues before giving them an opportunity in Grand Rapids, their AHL affiliate.
With all that being said, here are six players that are currently on the roster that have shown in some way they have a future with the Red Wings.
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While he might be one of the more established NHL players on this list, there was a feeling that Emmerton would just never amount to his true potential.
This was because a player the Wings took at 41st overall in 2006 was slowly starting to mold into a checking center and not into a flashy goal scorer that played for the Kingston Frontenacs in the OHL.
Emmerton spent three full seasons in Grand Rapids trying to find more of that offensive magic he had in his junior days. However, he was learning how to become a more responsible player in his own zone.
And this move has paid off well for the Wings' fourth line this year. He has become a tough draw in the face off dot and he also has even seen some time on the Red Wings' penalty kill. He shows flashes of his creativity with the puck, but his passing is his better intangible.
If Emmerton can work more on his faceoffs in the offseason he will find his place on this lineup for many years.
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Lashoff has been a pleasant surprise on the Red Wings defense this entire season.
While his play will not overwhelm you, the undrafted free agent is sound defensively and has already made several impact plays on the defense.
His offense is not that great and he will not be asked to provide much on that end. But he is going to get much better at getting the offensive rush going and work even more on his defense.
The promise this player has in the NHL allowed GM Ken Holland to give him a three-year contract. He hit a little setback in the middle of the season, but he has been much better since he was scratched a few times back in March.
But Brian will continue to use all the resources around him to find staying power in the NHL. And with a three-year contract in addition to being compared to former Wing Brad Stuart, that shouldn't be a hard thing to do.
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Andersson was a player that was hoping to get a chance on the roster next season.
He was doing well over in Grand Rapids this season and only played six NHL games in '11-12. At that time it appeared he wasn't ready to play in the NHL.
That was again the thought this season. However, everything changed when injuries decimated this team. So the Red Wings called on him to come up and they were hoping he could stick around.
Now the team is pleased with the way Andersson has never relinquished his position as a third-line center. He has taken over primary duties on the penalty kill and brings good size (6'2", 206) to the Red Wings' group of forwards.
In the 2013-14 season, it will be intriguing to see where Andersson will start out. He is more than likely on the NHL roster, but he can play so many roles that it is tough to judge. We do know that he is a steady face off presence with a solid future as a checking third-line center with more offensive upside.
For the Red Wings, landing Dan DeKeyser was a huge addition to the team despite its inaction at the trade deadline.
That's because DeKeyser has polished his game at Western Michigan University for three years. For one of those years, he was led by Grand Rapids Griffins Head Coach Jeff Blashill.
DeKeyser's skating and positioning are what make him so valuable to the Red Wings. He has only played two games in the NHL, but coach Mike Babcock was impressed with DeKeyser during his NHL debut.
In a crowded back end, DeKeyser is likely to become a top-four defenseman.
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He might have only played 31 games in his NHL career, but Gustav Nyquist is playing his way into a top-six role in '13-14.
The second-year "rookie" has adjusted to the NHL game very well. He has five points in 13 games but has also recorded 23 shots and has played valuable minutes on the power play.
Nyquist is a playmaker with good on-ice vision and a strong pass. His speed is actually above average. But he creates plays with his shot and his good hands.
He has had a few noteworthy plays this year that have dazzled fans. These kind of plays can only give you hope that the former Hobey Baker finalist will have a long career in the NHL.
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Despite going into a 16-game goal slump, Damien Brunner has shown a lot of promise since coming over to North America.
The 26-year-old rookie from Switzerland had a strong first half of the season. He recorded 16 points in 19 games. He has shown patience with the puck and has scored many of his goals from prime scoring chance areas.
While defensively Brunner is still a work in progress and could add more weight, the young star has done enough to warrant a long-term deal in Detroit. He has the potential to score 30 goals in the NHL and is a near lock for a top-six forward role in '13-14.
Brunner will also hope to learn how to pace himself through a full 82-game season, something he has never had to do in his days over in Europe.
Regardless, a full season, and hopefully a full career, from Brunner will be just as great as the preview Wings fans are seeing now.