Waiting in the Wings

Every Red Wings fan knows how their team is doing this year. They are second in their division and moving on up the Western Conference standings game by game. So how is their farm team doing? Not so good!

The Grand Rapids Griffins have a record of 10-11-3, hammering down 4th place in the North Division of the Eastern Conference. The lone bright spots of the team are Gustav Nyquist, who leads the team with 27 points in 25 games, and Brendan Smith, who has been solid on the blueline.

Here is a peek at some of the Red Wings' prospects in Grand Rapids:

PLAYER G A PTS
Gustav Nyquist 9 18 27
Chris Conner 7 16 23
Tomas Tatar 6 13 19
Joakim Andersson 7 9 16
Brendan Smith 3 10 13
Logan Pyett 0 11 11
Landon Ferraro 4 4 8

 

Tatar was a call up last year for the Wings, but players like Conner and Nyquist have jumped over him in the promotion department. He has struggled a little bit, but it's expected in only his second year in Grand Rapids. Nyquist has been excellent as a rookie.

Players like Andersson and Ferraro (2nd Round Pick in 2009) are a few years away, and both might project as fourth liners like Cory Emmerton (2nd Round Pick in 2006).

In goal, the Griffins have a bit of a mess. Joey MacDonald has been hurt for a while. In relief, Jordan Pearce has been bad, going 1-5-2 with a 3.54 GAA. Tom McCollum was called up from ECHL Toledo Walleye and had a little success, going 4-3 with a 3.17 GAA. He has been sent down to Toledo again, and one might wonder if the first round pick of 2008 will ever make the Red Wings.

Now for a look at some players that are Wings prospects playing elsewhere:

PLAYER TEAM GP G A PTS
Teemu Pulkkinen Jokerit (FIN) 31 9 10 19
Tomas Jurco Saint  John (QMJHL) 29 20 24 44
Riley Sheahan Notre Dame (CCHA) 18 5 13 18
Calle Jarnkrok Brynas (SEL) 31 7 13 20
Xavier Ouellet Blainsville (QMJHL) 30 7 14 21
Ryan Sproul Sault Ste. Marie (OHL) 32 8 15 23

 

Goaltender Petr Mrazek of the Ottawa 67's (OHL) has a 16-7-4 record with a 3.06 GAA. It looks like he might be the best of the Red Wings goaltending prospects.

The cupboard looks a little bare to me. There aren't any scoring forwards coming up anytime soon other than Nyquist, but the way the Wings have been grooming prospects, they turn out to be third liners. Darren Helm and Justin Abdelkader were scorers in junior and with the Griffins but not with the Wings. Are we praying for another Datsyuk/Zetterberg miracle? You bet. But in the last few years, the prospects haven't been making an impact.

Let's look back since the 2003 Draft:

2003 Drafted Players: Jimmy Howard, Kyle Quincey, Ryan Oulahen, Andreas Sundin, Stefan Blom, Tomas Kollar, Vladimir Kutny, Mikeal Johansson

2004 Draft Players: Johan Franzen, Evan McGrath, Sergei Kolosov, Tyler Haskins, Anton Axelsson, Steve Covington, Gennady Stolyarov, Nils Backstrom

2005 Draft: Jakub Kindl, Justin Abdelkader, Chris Lofberg, Mattias Ritola, Darren Helm, Johan Ryno, Jeff May, Juho Mielonen, Bretton Stamler

2006 Draft: Cory Emmerton ,Shawn Matthias, Dick Axelsson, Daniel Larsson, Jan Mursak, Nick Oslund, Logan Pyett

2007 Draft: Brendan Smith, Joakim Andersson, Randy Cameron, Zack Torquato, Bryan Rufenach

2008-2011 Draft: Thomas McCollum, Tomas Tatar

Of all of these picks, only 12 have played at least one game for the Red Wings. Two of them are not with the Wings anymore (Quincey and Ritola).

And of all of these draft picks, none of them have made a huge impact other than Howard and Franzen, and Mule was a third round pick (97th Overall). Helm, Abdelkader and Emmerton are all third liners as of now, and Kindl and Smith can only be classified as 6th defenceman.

So where is the next Wings superstar coming from? We've all heard the stories of the late round gems like Datsyuk, Zetterberg, Tomas Holmstrom, Nick Lidstrom and Vladimir Konstantinov. Who is next? The way things are going I don't see another superstar coming out of the cupboard anytime soon. If I missed him let me know who it is.

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Kyle Busch