The Red Wings have plenty of prospects eagerly awaiting their shot at the NHL.
The Detroit Red Wings are 2-1-0 in their first three games of the regular season, and although it is early, we may have already seen the opening to some changes.
“There’s going to be lots of games this season. Its 82 games. There’s going to be lots of changes to the lineup. Just, be patient and I’m sure the chances are coming.”
The chances could be coming for some other prospects, too. Over the course of an 82-game season players are likely to miss time for one reason or another. With Detroit’s overflow of talented prospects waiting for an opportunity, it is probable a few will get to see the bright lights of the NHL this year.
Here are some of the prospects that are likely to be called up this season.
Nyquist is patiently waiting for his eventual call to the NHL.
Some may consider this one too easy, and they’d be right.
Nyquist is almost a mathematical certainty to play with the Red Wings this season. After signing a new two-year contract, Nyquist was demoted to Grand Rapids of the AHL because he’s still waiver exempt.
Currently with the Griffins, Nyquist has registered a goal and three assists in two contests. After scoring two goals and five points in 14 playoff games with Detroit last year it seemed Nyquist had cemented a spot in the lineup this year.
Unfortunately, a flurry of free-agent activity left no room for him to start the season with the big club.
Once he plays two games at the NHL level, he will lose his waiver-exempt status and have to clear if sent down again—which he won’t be. Detroit will wait for the right opportunity to bring him up, and when they do, he’ll be here to stay.
Adam Almquist turned some heads this preseason.
A lot of fans have their hearts set on Ryan Sproul, but it was Adam Almquist who raised the most eyebrows this preseason.
Almquist played in four preseason games tallying two goals and four points. The 22-year-old Swede stands 5’11” and a light 174 pounds, but provides a powerful shot from the point. Almquist was drafted in the seventh round with the second-to-last pick of the 2009 NHL draft (210 overall).
In two games with the Griffins Almquist has registered three assists and spent ample time on special teams. As reported by Ansar Khan of mlive.com, defenseman Jakub Kindl likens Almquist to a left-handed Brian Rafalski:
“He looks really good; he shoots the puck really good, too. He’s a good player and very smart with the puck.”
As the Red Wings’ seventh defenseman Brian Lashoff will get first crack at an open slot should one of the top-six defensemen miss time. As for Almquist, his first impression could’ve earned him an opportunity sooner than anticipated.
Riley Sheahan has a small taste of the NHL and is eager to get back.
Riley Sheahan has seen the NHL on one short stint already.
After concluding his junior year at the University of Notre Dame he signed with Grand Rapids on a tryout in 2012. He played in Detroit’s final regular-season game that year totaling four penalty minutes and three shots.
In his first full season in the AHL last year, Sheahan recorded 16 goals and 36 points in 72 games and added three goals and 16 points in 24 playoff games.
At 6’2”, 215 pounds Sheahan brings good size and strength for the center position. Not tabbed to be a scorer, he’s a physical, grinding type of player who isn’t afraid to attack the corners or the front of the net. He’s a guy who Mike Babcock says “competes.”
The Red Wings wouldn’t use him as a regular, but he could certainly be a good role player to help kill penalties and provide a spark with the third or fourth line. Because Detroit has such depth up front it would take multiple injuries before Sheahan would see the NHL.
However, as Detroit saw last year, injuries can certainly pile up and it’s important to have a player like Sheahan who can step up and fill-in in more ways than just a roster spot.
Petr Mrazek may start at some point due to injuries.
This one is really easy because he’s already here.
As most hockey minds could accurately speculate, Jonas Gustavsson got hurt. Since he is expected to miss some time, it has given Petr Mrazek a spot with the Wings for the foreseeable future.
Mrazek saw two starts last season for the Red Wings finishing 1-1 with a 2.02 goals against average and .922 save percentage. He also backstopped the Grand Rapids Griffins to their first Calder Cup title in franchise history.
While Mrazek may not see much other than the faceoff chart on the bench, he’s sure to enjoy his stay with the Red Wings while it lasts. He is subject to quite valuable experience while practicing with elite talent and spending time with NHL goalie coaches.
At just 21 years old, the young Czech could be Detroit’s goalie of the future. He’ll spend plenty of time marinated in the AHL until either Jimmy Howard is ready hand over the reins, or he forces GM Ken Holland to make a decision.
Either way the future is bright and he’s a hot commodity for the franchise.
Jurco was Detroit's second-round pick in 2011.
When Tomas Jurco gets the call from Detroit, it won’t be until late in the season.
Jurco has shown flashes of brilliance in his time with the Griffins and he possesses the skill that most general managers—that aren’t Ken Holland—would place on the fast track to the NHL.
Detroit’s top-six forwards possess tremendous skill and experience and aren’t likely to be cracked by a prospect. The third and fourth lines are primarily used for energy and physicality. Because of this, there may not be room for Jurco even if injuries plague the NHL roster.
The kind of innate ability Jurco has can’t be ignored, but a lot of things would have to happen for him to wear the red and white before the NHL trade deadline. After the March 5 deadline the NHL roster has no limit and he would see time.
There is a lot of hockey to be played and nothing is etched in stone. Because it is such a long season, the only thing that is certain is that anything can happen. We’ll just have to wait and see.