Detroit Red Wings: The Future Is at Motown's Doorstep

Jordan MatthewsAnalyst IIIAugust 4, 2011

COLUMBUS, OH - JUNE 22:  27th overall pick Brendan Smith of the Detroit Red Wings poses for a portrait during the first round of the 2007 NHL Entry Draft at Nationwide Arena on June 22, 2007 in Columbus, Ohio.  (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)
Marc Serota/Getty Images

For the last 20 years there is really one team that has defined success in the NHL, and that team is the Detroit Red Wings. Along with that success has come the last ten years of people saying that the Red Wings are headed downhill, or the window is closing, or whatever other phrase you want to use to put down the Red Wings.

In 2001 it was "Yzerman and Shanahan are getting old, Detroit's on their way out." In 2005 it was "Detroit wont be able to stay consistent when they have to work with a salary cap." Now, it's "Detroit's going down now that Lidstrom's on his way out and Datsyuk and Zetterberg are getting older".

And here's what's funny. Since 2001, the Red Wings have won two Cups, and since 2005, when the salary cap was established, the Wings have been the most successful playoff team in the league.

You can't really say much to deny the third seeing as how it hasn't happened yet, but there's certainly quite a lot of factors that suggest the Red Wings' success isn't coming to a close any time soon. For starters, as I wrote in this article, the Wings have gotten considerably younger over the last few years.

But the current wave of youth is a small one, and for the most part, the minor one. Detroit's homegrown newcomers this year are Jan Mursak and Corey Emmerton. Mursak will certainly be an effective NHL player, but the idea that he'll be the next Datsyuk is borderline insane.

It's the waves that will come in next season, and the season after. Brendan Smith and Tomas Tatar are both expected to splash into the NHL next season, and when they do, you can expect that the waves will be felt by the rest of the NHL.

Smith is a very talented offensive defenseman who is projected to peak as a top defensive pair man and an All-Star defender. Tatar is expected to eventually center at minimum the second line, and maybe even the first line.

And the great thing about it? That's probably not even the biggest wave. Top prospect Teemu Pulkkinen is expected to land in the NHL in two years along with Calle Jarnkrok. Together, Pulkkinen and Jarnkrok could make up the new Eurotwins.

Pulkkinen has an absolute laser of a shot—he broke records in Finnish leagues that were previously held by Teemu Selanne, and he was originally debated with Taylor Hall to go first overall in the 2010 draft before dropping to the fourth round after missing the majority of the previous two season to injuries.

Jarnkrok is small, very small, and needs to put on some serious weight. Provided that he can pack on the muscle mass, he'll likely be a very good player. Currently, his nickname in the Swedish Elite League is "Henrik Zetterberg's clone." One can assume that's not a bad comparison.

You can read more about those prospects in this article, but perhaps the scarier part is that the article was written before Tomas Jurco, Xavier Ouellet and Ryan Sproul were selected in the draft, and only includes Adam Almqvist as on honorable mention.

Certainly the Red Wings will be a different team when Nicklas Lidstrom retires and Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg age, but the idea that their time is up is an amusing one when you consider how long nay-sayers have been saying it and when you look into Detroit's prospect pool.

It's much like the people who claim the world is going to end on insert date here. Eventually they'll be right, but until they are, they're simply making assumptions with no facts to back it up. The Red Wings are here to stay and they're going to put the NHL on notice that they're ready to reload their roster.

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