The 5 Most Frustrating Detroit Red Wings Prospects
The Detroit Red Wings’ 2013-14 campaign has turned into a showcase of their top prospects.
Twelve players have been recalled from their AHL affiliate in Grand Rapids at one point or another this season, with a total of seven having made their NHL debuts.
Word is out that Detroit has one of the deepest prospect pools in the NHL, acting as a blessing for their current injury-ridden situation.
Detroit has selected in the first round of the NHL draft only six times in the last 15 years, and none higher than 19th overall.
Of those six first-rounders, four are currently on the team’s roster in Niklas Kronwall, Jakub Kindl, Brendan Smith and Riley Sheahan.
While so many gifted youngsters are demonstrating their exceptional skill, others are having a much rougher go on their road to the NHL. For every young phenom there are multiple players that won’t encounter the bright lights of the big stage.
The Red Wings have several players in the system vying for their professional opportunity, as well as others that can’t quite figure things out.
For one reason or another, here are Detroit’s five most frustrating prospects.
Drafted: Second round, 32nd overall (2009)
Age: 22 years old
Why he is frustrating: Landon Ferraro made his NHL debut Tuesday night in Detroit’s 3-2 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs, seeing 9:45 of ice time and registering one shot on goal.
Ferraro is the son of former 400-goal scorer Ray Ferraro, but he hasn’t lived up to the pedigree. In his three seasons with the Grand Rapids Griffins, he has just 95 points in 190 games and is a minus-one.
With the influx of skill throughout Detroit’s system, he’ll need to prove a lot with little time remaining. As a restricted free agent this offseason, it is possible this is his last chance with the franchise.
He was never expected to be a top-line scorer and plays a two-way style, but he hasn’t shown enough moxie to battle for a regular NHL roster spot.
Other Grand Rapids centers such as Cory Emmerton, Luke Glendening and Riley Sheahan have received an opportunity ahead of him. With all of Detroit’s injuries at the center position, Ferraro would have seen an earlier call-up if he was truly on Detroit’s radar.
Drafted: Second round, 49th overall (2012)
Age: 20 years old
Why he is frustrating: Martin Frk still has plenty of time to sort things out, but at the moment, he’s been a tough player to classify.
Frk possesses a decent skill set with good speed and a hard shot, but he may have been a product of a quality lineup in junior hockey. As a member of the Halifax Mooseheads of the QMJHL, Frk was flanked by 2013 first-round picks Nathan MacKinnon (first overall) and Jonathan Drouin (third overall).
In 40 games with the Griffins, he has just nine points and is minus-12, a far cry from his junior hockey scoring pace.
He has fallen as low as 18th on RedWingsCentral.com‘s list of Red Wings prospects and has bounced back and forth between Toledo of the ECHL and Grand Rapids of the AHL.
This is just Frk’s first professional season, so there is plenty of time to improve and familiarize himself with the organization. Some consistency could go a long way for the 20-year-old, but he’ll have to show a lot with the proven talent in line ahead of him.
Drafted: Second round, 58th overall (2013)
Age: 19 years old
Why he is frustrating: Tyler Bertuzzi has plenty of time ahead of him to progress into an NHL player, assuming he can straighten himself out.
Bertuzzi hasn’t played with the Guelph Storm of the OHL since December 8 as he recovers from shoulder, neck and head injuries that have resulted in concussion-like symptoms.
The injury was serious enough that Detroit’s team doctors took time to evaluate him. He also missed 25 games last season with similar symptoms, both injuries stemming from fights.
Fighting is a big part of Bertuzzi’s physical game, but it has landed him in some hot water for reasons beyond his injury.
On the first day of development camp in July, Bertuzzi challenged fellow prospect Nick Jensen to a fight, causing Jensen to miss four months with a shoulder injury that required surgery.
If he chooses to continue to play his game, his career may not take him much further. If he’s willing to make the necessary adjustments, it may be best for his career and his health.
Drafted: Sixth round, 180th overall (2009)
Age: 22 years old
Why he is frustrating: As injuries continue to plague the Detroit Red Wings’ lineup, Mitch Callahan has watched as his teammates in Grand Rapids have been promoted ahead of him.
Instead of going about his business in a professional manner, Callahan took to Twitter to vent his frustrations tweeting “Hard work pays off?” Callahan would later delete the message, but when you have over 5,000 followers on social media, someone is bound to see it.
Callahan is second on the Griffins with 22 goals and third with 36 points, so it’s easy to understand his frustration. His point totals this season have already surpassed his first two with Grand Rapids combined, but it’s fair for Detroit to remain patient before he gets his shot.
Griffins head coach Jeff Blashill told RedWingsCentral.com:
Because Mitch doesn’t have that flashy skill-set, because he’s not 6-foot-3, because he doesn’t absolutely fly, those types of players, in my mind, have to prove it at lower levels on a consistent basis for a longer period of time than others. He just has to consistently prove he’s an elite player in the AHL to get that opportunity in the NHL.
General manager Ken Holland is notorious for overmaturing the team’s prospects. For Callahan, publicly questioning the organization that controls his professional fate is unwise.
It’s only a matter of time before Callahan receives a fair opportunity, but until then, he’ll need to gather his wits and focus only on what he can control.
Drafted: Fourth round, 115th overall (2011)
Age: 21 years old
Why he is frustrating: Marek Tvrdon has had an injury-plagued junior hockey career that included a blood clot in his shoulder that ended his 2012-13 campaign.
He was expected to begin his professional career with the Grand Rapids Griffins this season, but his play has left him bouncing back and forth between the AHL, Toledo of the ECHL and, currently, with the Kelowna Rockets of the WHL.
He played just one game with the Griffins without recording a point and has just nine goals, 13 points and a minus-eight with the Toledo Walleye. He has 11 goals and 27 points in 29 games with Kelowna.
In three seasons with the Vancouver Giants of the WHL, Tvrdon played in just 90 of 216 possible games due to injuries. In those games, he did tally 45 goals and 107 points.
Tvrdon has shown a scoring prowess in junior hockey, but he hasn’t been able to establish any consistency in higher leagues. His health will continue to be a concern going forward, and if he can stay healthy enough to play, he still has a shot to develop into a good player.