Updates on Where the Detroit Red Wings' 2011 Draft Picks Are Now
The 2011 NHL draft produced many young talents who are now making a name for themselves in the league.
Seventeen of the first 20 players taken in the first round have made their way into the NHL—and one has already been named captain of his club (Gabriel Landeskog in Colorado).
The biggest steal of the draft so far appears to be Ondrej Palat of the Tampa Bay Lightning. Taken in the seventh round (208th overall), Palat is a Calder Trophy finalist after scoring 23 goals and a team-leading 59 points in 81 games.
The Detroit Red Wings made more than a few quality selections of their own in 2011.
To build the suspense, they did not make a first-round selection, having traded the 24th overall pick to the Ottawa Senators in exchange for the 35th and 48th picks in the draft.
Detroit turned those specific picks into forward Tomas Jurco and defenseman Xavier Ouellet, respectively.
This summer brings opportunity for members of Detroit’s 2011 draft class. A few have stepped onto the ice at the NHL level already, but they could have the opportunity to do so regularly next season.
Others may be at a crossroads in their careers. Either unable to advance through the minor leagues or suffering setbacks off the ice, this summer could be a turning point in these players' lives.
On the week of the 2014 NHL draft, here is an update on Detroit’s 2011 draft class.
Tomas Jurco, RW
Pick: Fifth (35th overall from Ottawa)
Where is he? Jurco is right in the thick of Detroit’s transition toward the future. Injuries piled up on the Red Wings last year, giving him the opportunity to show his stuff. He totaled eight goals and 15 points in 36 NHL games in 2013-14.
Jurco spent his first professional season with the Grand Rapids Griffins in 2012-13, scoring 14 goals and 28 points in 74 games. He showed vast improvement in the postseason, tallying eight goals and 14 points in 24 games, helping Grand Rapids earn its first Calder Cup title.
He started the 2013-14 season with 13 goals and 32 points in 32 games before his promotion. After Detroit was eliminated from the playoffs, he returned to Grand Rapids to tally five goals and seven points in eight postseason games.
Looking to next season, Jurco has the best opportunity to become the first NHL regular from Detroit’s 2011 draft class. He clicked on a line with Griffins teammates Riley Sheahan and Tomas Tatar last season and could see more of the same in 2014-15.
He’ll battle plenty of other NHL-caliber prospects for a coveted roster spot come training camp. Based on his performance last season—at the AHL and NHL levels—his chances are pretty good.
Xavier Ouellet, D
Pick: 18th (48th overall from Ottawa)
Where is he? Xavier Ouellet is another prospect that saw the bright lights of the NHL last season. He made his debut on October 21, 2013, at Joe Louis Arena, playing 17:15 of ice time in a 1-0 shootout loss to the San Jose Sharks.
He played in four regular-season games with the Red Wings, registering four shots, two penalty minutes and averaging 14:34 of ice time.
With the Grand Rapids Griffins for the majority of the year, he scored four goals and 17 points in 70 games. He had a rough time in the postseason with no points and minus-five in eight games.
Ouellet is still one of the team’s best defensive prospects, and he could be ready to make the jump next season. He has excellent vision and is very responsible at both ends of the ice.
He was recalled by Detroit and took Jakub Kindl’s roster spot for Detroit’s Game 5 loss to the Boston Bruins in last year’s postseason.
He uses his 6'0", 200-pound frame well physically, and at 20 years old, he is someone to get excited about. He’s not gifted offensively, but Detroit needs improved play in its own zone more than anything. Among all of Detroit’s quality defensive prospects, Ouellet is perhaps the most polished and NHL-ready.
Ryan Sproul, D
Pick: 25th (55th overall)
Where is he? Ryan Sproul is knocking on the NHL door, and it may be difficult for Detroit to ignore him any longer. The offensively gifted 21-year-old was named to the AHL All-Rookie team after finishing his first season with 11 goals and 32 points in 72 games with the Grand Rapids Griffins.
Sproul spent his previous three years with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds of the OHL, totaling 153 points in 172 games, including two 20-goal campaigns. At 6’4” and 205 pounds, he added muscle to gain the size necessary to play at the professional level.
He had a tendency to sacrifice defense for the sake of scoring but has worked diligently to improve his play on both ends. He may not earn a roster spot out of training camp this season, but one more year to hone his skills in Grand Rapids could be the best option for both Sproul and the Red Wings.
He is certain to receive a larger role in the AHL next season, if that is where he starts. He’s a proven power-play contributor, scoring four of his 11 goals with the man advantage. He also added two goals and five points in 10 postseason games with the Griffins last year.
His size and skill make him a dangerous combination for opponents and a dream commodity for the Red Wings. When he makes the jump to the NHL, his impact is sure to be felt.
Alan Quine, C
Pick: 24th (85th overall)
Where is he? Alan Quine was selected in the third round by the Detroit Red Wings after a couple mediocre offensive seasons with the Kingston Frontenacs and Peterborough Petes of the OHL.
Quine played three games with the Grand Rapids Griffins, registering one assist. Detroit was unable to reach an agreement on an entry-level contract, and he returned to Junior hockey.
He re-entered the NHL draft in 2013 and was selected in the sixth round (166th overall) by the New York Islanders. He has since been traded from Peterborough to the Belleville Bulls, where the change of scenery vastly improved his offensive.
In 2012-13, he totaled 23 goals and 67 points in 54 games between Peterborough and Belleville, with 41 points coming in 28 games as a member of the Bulls.
Quine played the 2013-14 season with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers of the AHL, amassing eight goals, 27 points and minus-24 in 61 games. He has good skill but isn’t likely to amount to much more than a bottom-six forward at the NHL level.
Detroit boasts quality depth throughout all levels, which makes earning a spot significantly more difficult for a mid-round pick like Quine.
The implausibility that he would see the NHL quickly through Detroit’s system likely played into his decision not to sign with the club.
Marek Tvrdon, RW
Pick: 24th (115th overall)
Where is he? Marek Tvrdon has been forced to work through many obstacles in his young hockey career. In 2011-12 he scored 31 goals and 74 points in 60 games with the Vancouver Giants of the Western Hockey League.
After scoring 22 points in 18 games in 2012-13, he was forced to miss the rest of the season with a blood clot in his left shoulder. He has fully recovered from the ailment, but he hasn’t quite regained his scoring touch.
He played last year with the Toledo Walleye of the ECHL after failing to crack the Griffins roster. He registered 13 points in 22 games before being sent back to the WHL for his over-age season. He was dealt to the Kelowna Rockets, where he amassed 11 goals and 27 points in 29 games.
Tvrdon has good size (6’2”, 217 pounds) but has lacked consistency, and he hasn’t made an impact in his short professional stints.
It’s not to say he can’t be a late bloomer slowed by injuries, but his window of opportunity is getting smaller as Detroit’s prospect pool gets deeper.
Philippe Hudon, C/RW
Pick: 24th (145th overall)
Where is he? As a big guy (6’1”, 205 pounds) with a willingness to play the physical game, Philippe Hudon hasn’t progressed into the player Detroit had hoped he would become.
He began his freshman year at Cornell University but struggled with medical issues, causing him to take a leave of absence and eventually drop out to play with Victoriaville of the QMJHL. He later revealed he was battling obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Playing with the Victoriaville Tigres, he has totaled 37 goals and 71 points in 156 games. He has a heavy shot but doesn’t appear to be developing into an effective scoring power forward.
The Detroit Red Wings have his rights until 2015, but it doesn’t appear he’ll advance to the NHL level. He spent last season with Victoriaville as an over-age player, but because he’s now 21 years old, he’ll have to play elsewhere in 2014-15.
He’ll likely see a shot with Toledo of the ECHL, but making the jump to the AHL from that point will require a lot of work.
He’ll need to show significant improvement if he hopes to get on Detroit’s radar before his contract expires.
Mattias Backman, D
Pick: 25th (146th overall from Philadelphia)
Where is he? Mattias Backman came over from Sweden to join the Grand Rapids Griffins for their playoff run last season. He played the last two games of the regular season and was minus-one but proved worthy with a goal and six points in 10 playoff games.
Backman will experience his first full season of North American hockey next year in the AHL, but the transition to a smaller rink already appears easy. He stands at 6’2” but weighs in at just 176 pounds. A season to bulk up and get accustomed to all the differences from European hockey could go a long way.
He played with Linkopings HC of the SHL tallying six goals, 21 points and plus-26 in 54 games last season. He is an excellent skater with good puck-moving skills that will make him a quality asset.
He has a lot of similar qualities as Ryan Sproul, though is perhaps not as offensively focused. He doesn’t play a very physical game, so adding some bulk to his frame would go a long way.
Backman is a very reliable defender, and it will translate once he grows accustomed to everything North American hockey brings. There is little doubt he’ll be a quality NHL player in a couple years.
Richard Nedomlel, D
Pick: 24th (175th overall)
Where is he? Playing last season with the Toledo Walleye in the ECHL, Richard Nedomlel has a few aspects of his game that he needs to improve before taking the next step.
Standing a towering 6’5” and weighing 228 pounds, he plays a tough, physical defensive game and has proven willing and worthy to drop the gloves. In his three seasons with the Swift Current Broncos of the WHL, he totaled 17 goals, 84 points and 295 penalty minutes in 210 games.
He plays with an edge and toughness that Detroit lacks on the blue line, but he needs to prove he has the skill to handle his own at both ends of the ice.
He played in 60 games for the Walleye in 2013-14, scoring eight goals, 18 points and notching 150 penalty minutes. He played in three games with the Griffins, finishing with six shots and minus-two.
While offense isn’t part of his game, he hasn’t shown particular skill in the puck-moving aspect of his position. He was drafted for the skill set he provides, but he could still use some work as an all-around defenseman.
Detroit’s system is predominantly deep at the position, so he’ll need to make an impact in the AHL next year if he wants to be considered for an NHL spot.
Alexey Marchenko, D
Pick: 24th (205th overall)
Where is he? The Detroit Red Wings may have another incredible late-round steal in Alexey Marchenko.
Marchenko made the AHL All-Star Classic as a member of the Griffins last season, but he suffered an ankle injury that ended his season in February. He had three goals, 18 points and was plus-11 through 49 games before suffering the injury.
He’s 6’2”, 212 pounds and provides the right-handed shot Detroit is in desperate need of utilizing. If he heals properly, he could contend for a roster spot alongside Detroit’s other top defensive prospects in training camp.
He played in one game with the Red Wings last year, totaling 13:21 of ice time, two penalty minutes and a plus-two rating. At his height and weight, he adds size to his reliable, two-way skill, and at 22 years old, he may be ready to take the big step to the NHL.
If Marchenko transitions to the NHL the way he has at each level so far, he could rank among some of Detroit’s best late-round picks.