The Detroit Red Wings have been forced to dig into their minor league system in order to stay afloat in the playoff race.
The youth infusion of players such as Riley Sheahan, Tomas Jurco and Tomas Tatar has provided a spark for the team and given fans a glimpse into the club’s future. With injuries to Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, Johan Franzen and Stephen Weiss, the ice time for these youngsters will continue to increase.
Although the salary cap will force the team’s prospects back to Grand Rapids of the AHL, it brings attention to the franchise’s process to consistently flood its farm system with quality young players.
The attention will then shift to the NHL draft, where general manager Ken Holland will work his magic along with a team of scouts to accurately evaluate, rank and select the players they deem fit for their system.
Steals like Datsyuk (sixth round in 1998), Zetterberg (seventh round in 1999) and Jonathan Ericsson (ninth round in 2002) prove that the Red Wings’ brass can find the talent they want at any point in any draft.
Based on their current standing, the Red Wings look to be picking in the middle of the pack come June’s NHL draft in Philadelphia. In a similar spot last season, they selected the QMJHL’s leading scorer, Anthony Mantha.
Based on recent trends, the functionality of Detroit’s system and its long-term needs, here are five perfect fits in the upcoming NHL draft.