Top Detroit Red Wings Prospects Yet to Deliver on Their Hype
Nothing is more uncertain in the hockey world than the future. During the best of times and the worst of times, fans, experts and front-office personnel are always trying to catch a glimpse of what lies ahead.
Many in Hockeytown are looking forward to seeing their young stars don the winged wheel, but there remain some players that aren’t ready to make the jump. More so in hockey than other professional sports, higher draft picks don’t necessarily have what it takes to succeed in the pro ranks.
Fans don’t get to hear much about these players as they don’t make enough noise with their junior or minor league clubs. Whether the learning curve is too high, there's a lack of premier talent or a lack of work ethic, some players just don’t live up to the hype.
With that being said, here are some of Detroit’s prospects that aren’t living up to the hype.
Ferraro wasn’t picked to be a prolific scorer, but his bloodline and competitiveness are what made him an attractive prospect. His best season in the AHL came in 2012-13 when he totaled a career-high 24 goals and 47 points in 72 games.
The 6-foot, 174-pounder is undersized for a center, but his versatility in all facets of the game is what makes him a valuable member of the Griffins. It’s that adaptable style of play that maintains a spot at the NHL level but doesn’t necessarily earn one. At 22 years old, he still has plenty of time to develop. However, he is in his final season of waiver-exempt status.
He’ll need to impress a lot of people and fast if he wants to make the NHL, at least in Detroit. With prospects like Tomas Jurco and Gustav Nyquist ahead on the scoresheet, his opportunity in Hockeytown may never materialize.
Riley Sheahan was selected in the first round (21st overall) in the 2010 NHL draft and has caused more problems for the Griffins off the ice than for opponents on it.
Sheahan was arrested in October 2012 for drunk driving while dressed as a Teletubby and possessing teammate Brendan Smith’s driver’s license. He was just 20 years old at the time of the incident and had a blood-alcohol level of .17.
On the ice, Sheahan has not shown the scoring prowess he displayed with the St. Catharine’s Falcons of the OJHL. He also failed to reach double-digit goals in any of his three seasons at the University of Notre Dame. The 2012-13 season was Sheahan’s first full campaign with the Griffins, and he totaled 16 goals and 36 points in 72 games. He has played in two NHL games with no points and four penalty minutes.
He doesn’t possess the scoring touch to earn a spot any higher than a third-line center in the NHL and also suffers from Detroit’s abundance of young talent. He could eventually turn into a bottom-six NHL player, but that likely won’t happen in Detroit. He becomes a restricted free agent at the end of the 2013-14 season, and if he wants an opportunity, he'll look elsewhere.
He’s certainly not a household name, but Andrej Nestrasil was a pick Detroit was real high on when he was taken in the third round (75th overall) in the 2009 NHL draft. Matthew Wuest of redwingscentral.com wrote that Detroit ranked him as a first-rounder on draft day.
The 6'2", 200-pounder has good hands and a willingness to throw his weight around. He averaged more than a point per game in the QMJHL between the Victoriaville Tigres and PEI Rocket.
With the Toledo Walleye of the ECHL, he’s totaled 18 goals and 70 points in 91 games over the last two seasons but just six goals and 10 points in 50 games with Grand Rapids. So far this season he’s registered two goals and four points in 13 games with the Griffins.
It’s possible that the constant shifting between Toledo and Grand Rapids has taken its toll on the young forward, but it’s tough to imagine a player making a splash in the NHL with such an evident struggle. It appears likely, even at just 22 years old, that Nestrasil is another example of potential that doesn’t emerge.
Thomas McCollum is a bit of a strange situation. He was taken in the first round (30th overall) in the 2008 NHL draft and has battled the likes of Daniel Larsson, Joey MacDonald, Stefan Liv, Jared Coreau and Petr Mrazek for time in the minor leagues.
Detroit initially intended to part ways with McCollum this offseason but instead tendered a qualifying offer to the 23-year-old to retain his rights. Now in his fifth season with the Grand Rapids Griffins, he appears to be taking advantage of Petr Mrazek’s stint in Detroit with a 6-0-0 record.
As a first-round pick, Detroit was high on McCollum, who was ranked No. 1 among North American goaltenders by Central Scouting. Unfortunately with the crease manned by Chris Osgood and Jimmy Howard at the NHL level, he wasn’t going to receive an opportunity anytime soon. He saw 15 total minutes in the NHL when he relieved Joey MacDonald in a 10-3 loss to the St. Louis Blues in March 2011.
He won’t amount to much more than a career backup at this point having spent the majority of his time in the AHL. By agreeing to Detroit’s offer, he appears to have accepted the role. There’s nothing wrong with playing professional hockey as a career, it’s just a shame to see such a highly touted prospect fall short.
Martin Frk is dealing with the same inconsistencies as Andrej Nestrasil. He was selected with a second-round pick (49th overall) in the 2012 draft and dominated at the junior level but has struggled in the minor leagues.
In his final year with the Halifax Mooseheads of the QMJHL, Frk tallied 35 goals and 84 points in 56 games; finishing 13th in the league in scoring. On the other hand, he was playing between 2013 first-round picks Nathan MacKinnon (first overall to Colorado) and Jonathan Drouin (third overall to Tampa Bay). Drouin finished second in the QMJHL with 41 goals and 105 points in just 49 games playing alongside Frk.
It’s very possible that Frk was a product of the talent he skated with. While bouncing back and forth between Toledo and Grand Rapids, he has yet to really find his legs.
In three games with Toledo, Frk has one goal and three points but has yet to register a point in six games with Grand Rapids. Sure, it is a small sample size in a short time since his professional career began, but it appears Frk needs talent around him to succeed. In order to receive a genuine opportunity, he’s going to need to start putting up numbers. If he doesn't, this could be the highest level of hockey he plays.