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2011 NHL Draft: A Look into the Future of the Newest Red Wings

Jason WorkmanCorrespondent IJune 27, 2011

2011 NHL Draft: A Look into the Future of the Newest Red Wings

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    This past weekend, the hockey world descended upon the Xcel Energy Center for this season's installment of the NHL Entry Draft.

    Teams looking to rebuild entered with a sense of hope, while teams on the cusp of a championship were looking for the missing piece that could contribute from Day 1.

    Though the Detroit Red Wings suffered a disappointing playoff ousting at the hands of the Sharks just over a month ago, we're unlikely to see Detroit's draft picks enter the fray any time soon.

    Detroit has made it a policy not to rely on the youngsters too early, and by the time many break into the lineup, they have spent years with the farm club honing their craft. 

    This season's crop of draft picks is an exciting blend of offensive creativity and defensive grit. 

    Let's jump ahead five years and see where this season's group fits in.

Tomas Jurco, RW, Saint John (QMJHL)

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    With the 35th pick of the 2011 NHL Draft, the Detroit Red Wings selected Tomas Jurco. If you don’t know the name, trust me, you will.

    In 2011, with Saint John, he played 60 games and tallied 31 goals and 25 assists. In the playoffs, he appeared in 19 games and scored 6 goals and 12 assists on the way to a Memorial Cup Championship.

    Despite his flash and dangle ability, Jurco is actually large for a forward, standing at 6’2”. But in my opinion, he needs to grow into that frame to possess the stick strength necessary to compete in the NHL.

    Jurco’s stick handling has made him a YouTube phenomenon, but what gets lost in all of that is his great sense for the game. After watching a little bit of film on the young man, I’ve noticed that while his hands are incredible, he scores just as many goals with his blazing speed and positioning.

    Tomas was a member of the Saint John Sea Dogs, which was one of the most talented teams in the QMJHL. While this translated to a QMJHL Championship this season, it meant that Jurco’s talent took a bit of a back seat.

    That fact may have contributed to Jurco falling to Detroit in the second round, but it may also prove to be an asset in the future. Jurco is joining an incredibly talented team, and knowing how to be a role-player means his likelihood of making the lineup is high.

    Five years from now, I expect Jurco to be in his sophomore season with the Wings. I believe he has the skill to be a Calder Trophy finalist in his first year, and a top six forward in the years to come. 

    Jurco has three things you can’t teach; great feet, incredible hands, and hockey sense. When you put him in the room with the veterans the Wings possess, I think he’s a star in waiting.

    2016-2017 Projected Season

    Second Liner (Red Wings)

    17 Goals          21 Assists

Xavier Ouellet, D, Montreal (QMJHL)

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    Following the Jurco pick, at No. 48 Detroit selected defenseman Xavier Ouellet of the QMJHL.

    One of the knocks on Ouellet is certainly his size; standing just 6’0” and weighing in at 182 lbs. That may have concerned some teams, but what many don’t realize is Niklas Kronwall is the same height as Ouellet and just seven pounds heavier. Given time to bulk up a little, size will not be a problem moving forward.

    The other concern that many had with Ouellet is his quickness. While speed is an asset, I think defensively, it can be compensated for with intelligence. Nick Lidstrom is a silky skater, but he doesn’t have incredible speed or quickness (who does after 40?). He makes up for it with his positioning and vision.

    Grant McCagg, a scout from TSN said of Ouellet:

    "Strengths -- Smart puck mover with some character, solid work ethic, plucky, really improved, appreciate him the more you see him. Gets good position on his man, strong character, competitive, very smart, uses body well, quick puck mover, a coach's player."           

    In 2010-11 with Montreal, Ouellet netted eight goals and added 35 assists. He was only assessed 44 penalty minutes in 67 games.

    I think Ouellet has the tools needed to become a second or third pairing defenseman in the NHL, and he couldn’t have found a better fit than with the Red Wings. His offensive abilities will be appreciated, and his intelligence will make up for his lack of mobility.

    Moving forward, Ouellet will be a bit of a project, but five years from now I see him competing for time on an NHL blue line. Whether he's still in Detroit is yet to be seen.

    2016-2017 Projected Season

    Third Pairing Defenseman (Red Wings)

    9 Goals          5 Assists           +/-  +6

Ryan Sproul, D, Sault Ste. Marie (OHL)

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    By the time the Red Wings selected Ryan Sproul with the 55th pick, it was clear they had committed to getting younger and bigger on the back end.

    Sproul stands at 6’3” and weighs in at 175 pounds. Currently, only Jakub Kindl and Jonathan Ericsson possess the size that young Sproul brings, and given time to fill out, he could be a tower back on the blue line.

    Even with his size, Sproul has proven he still has the ability to be a game-changing offensive defenseman.

    Though Sproul started slow this season, he really turned it on after the first of the year. He scored ten of his fourteen goals after January 1st, and during that time, only CHL Player of the Year Ryan Ellis had more.

    Sproul is a raw talent, which explains why he fell into the mid-second round. But his combination of size and skating ability was just too good for Detroit to pass up.

    Ryan has a huge slapshot and I could see him being a nightly contributor on the power play. His speed and vision will allow him to jump in on the rush, and given a few more years in the OHL to mature, I could see him joining the Wings as a top four defenseman.

    When he’s on, think Sergei Gonchar.

    2016-2017 Projected Season

    Second Pairing Defenseman (Red Wings)

    12 Goals          7 Assists          +/-  +9

Alan Quine, C, Peterborough (OHL)

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    With the 85th pick, Detroit decided to go back to offense, selecting center Alan Quine of the OHL’s Peterborough Petes.

    Quine is very talented in the offensive zone, evident by his 53 points in 69 games last season. He has a ton of upside, but there are a few things that could keep him from being a producer at the next level.

    First, let’s look at the positives. Quine possesses great vision and touch, and his game in the offensive zone is unusually polished at this point in his development. He is shifty and elusive, and his quickness is in the same ballpark as Darren Helm.

    However, his lack of size (just 5’11”) and poor instincts in his own zone have contributed to a reputation of being an offense first type of player.

    Detroit has built the franchise on solid two-way players like Kris Draper, Sergei Federov, Steve Yzerman and Pavel Datsyuk. If Quine wants to make the lineup someday, he’s going to need to commit to becoming more physical in his own zone and getting better on the back check.

    At 85th overall, Quine could wind up being a steal for the Wings. Alan has a lot to learn, and with so many young players already in Detroit’s farm system, he will need to do his best to stand out.

    2016-2017 Projected Season

    First Line Center (Griffins)

    31 Goals          18 Assists

Marek Tvrdon, LW, Vancouver (WHL)

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    Had Marek Tvrdon played an entire campaign in 2010-11, there is no doubt he would’ve been taken before he was.

    As it turns out, his season-ending shoulder injury (he had 11 points in 12 games before surgery) allowed him to slide to the Red Wings with the 115th pick.

    Next to Jurco, Tvrdon is the player from this draft that I believe will make the biggest impact with the team. He is a big body at 6’3” 213 pounds, and he’s just 18.

    Just imagine how big he’ll be when the Wings’ trainers get a hold of him.

    It’s that size, coupled with a knack for scoring goals that reminds me of current Red Wing Johan Franzen.

    I believe that the Tvrdon selection is a perfect situation for both the club, and the player.

    Marek is going to need some time to recapture his form after the long layoff and the Wings are in a position to give it to him.

    With his youth and lack of film, he’s a difficult prospect to project. I would be surprised if he was on the Red Wings roster full time five years from now, but I could see him filling in as a Black Ace. I foresee him playing out his contract in Vancouver, and then moving to Grand Rapids.

    From there, it’s simply a matter of utilizing his gifts.

    2016-2017 Projected Season

    First Line LW (Griffins)

    16 Goals          24 Assists

Philippe Hudon, C, Choate-Rosemary

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    The Red Wings added their fourth forward of the draft by selecting center Philippe Hudon with the 145th overall pick. 

    Hudon is a Prep School player out of Choate-Rosemary Hall, and for that reason, there is little film out there on him. 

    For a player as young as Philippe is, his size is encouraging. He's just barely 18 years old and already stands at 6'0" and a solid 200 pounds.

    He has played defense in the past, and his experience on the blue line has made him a more physical forward. At such a young age, he already knows how to use his size and strength to his advantage, but this past season, it didn't translate well into offense.

    As a prep school player, Hudon only netted 10 goals.

    That may sound like a decent number, but a highly skilled offensive player would be expected to shred defenses as a youngster. His lack of production, coupled with his size and grit, leads me to believe he will be a third or fourth liner at best in the NHL. 

    I wouldn't rule out the possibility of a move back to defense either.

    2016-2017 Projected Season

    Second Defensive Pairing (Griffins)

    7 Goals          15 Assists          +/-  +12


Mattias Backman, D, Linkoping HC (SEL)

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    The second of Detroit's back-to-back picks saw the addition of defenseman Mattias Backman 146th overall. The Red Wings hope Backman can follow in a long line of productive Swedish defensemen selected by Detroit. 

    Of all Backman's qualities, his most endearing is his composure. Though he didn't spend much time in the Elite League this season, his steady play caught the eye of the Detroit Red Wings. 

    He isn't known for a heavy shot, or great feet, but he is a very solid defenseman. 

    I think Backman has the intangibles that could make him an NHL'er, but his lack of eye-popping skill may hold him back in the end. 

    The Red Wings director of European scouting had this to say about Mattias:

    “He’s not a spectacular Kronwall-type player, he’s more of a ‘make-a-good-first-pass’ guy and he’s a mobile skater. He’s close to 6-foot-3 and he’s very mobile, he thinks the game well, he keeps the game simple, he has a very good first pass, and he can also skate the puck out of trouble. He’s a good defenseman."

    Until I see him play in the Elite League, I won't even venture a guess as where he'll be five years from now.

Richard Nedomiel, D, Swift Current (WHL)

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    In the sixth round, Detroit filled a glaring hole by selecting Czech tough guy Richard Nedomiel. For years, the Wings have been without a big mean defenseman, but Nedomiel could be that player. 

    This past season was Nedomiel's first in the WHL and at just 17, he dropped the gloves seven times. 

    His coach Mark Lamb admitted Nedomiel is limited with the puck, which was evident after playing his entire rookie season without scoring a goal.

    Nedomiel is a big strong defenseman who loves to hit and fight. He isn't afraid to go to the dirty parts of the ice, and he's a proven shot blocker. 

    Red Wings scout Jeff Finley has this to say about Nedomiel and his future with the club:

    “Guys who are limited skill-wise, you just have to have enough hockey sense to keep yourself out of trouble. You have to keep things very simple and play to your strengths. You look at the progress throughout the year, with his size and physical game, and he has lots of upside.”

    I think the Wings see Nedomiel as a bit of a throwback type of player, and although he'll never contribute much in the offensive zone, he could progress into an enforcer on the back end. 

    Again, because of the work left to do, I don't want to try and project where he will be down the road, but I hope he's with the club in some capacity. 

Alexei Marchenko, D, CSKA (KHL)

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    With their final pick of the 2011 NHL Draft, the Red Wings selected young Russian defenseman Alexei Marchenko.

    Marchenko is a relative unknown, but he could wind up being one of the biggest steals of the draft. After searching both Google and YouTube, it became clear that there was little out there about this young man. 

    I have not seen any footage of Alexei, so I am deferring to the opinion of russianprospect.com.

    According to the site, Alexei is a strong, aggressive player on both ends of the ice. His back-checking is superb and he's shown the ability to be effective without taking penalties. 

    Marchenko has good hands and feet, and is one of the better outlet passers in the KHL.

    His only real downside is his size and lack of a great shot.  

    With a little weightlifting, and some mentoring, Marchenko could turn out to be a solid player in Detroit's farm system.

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