If the Detroit Red Wings stick to their long-term plan then the motto for this offseason should be “out with the old, in with new.” New as in the upcoming prospects waiting to be called up from the Grand Rapids Griffins.
By my estimation the Wings will have approximately $10 million in cap space to spend this offseason.
When teams have money to throw around at free agents they usually end up overpaying for what they buy. The Wings experienced this first-hand last offseason with Stephen Weiss.
So, perhaps the Wings are better off saving their money and rely on youth development.
The reward of waiting outweighs the risk at this point.
The 2013-14 youth movement saw Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Tatar, Tomas Jurco, Riley Sheahan, and Luke Glendening emerge as the bright young studs of the future. Believe me, or not, but I think the 2014-15 youth movement will be on par or even better than what we witnessed this season.
Be on the lookout for these up-and-coming Red Wings next season.
The Wings are loaded with talented forwards so it’s going to take a few injuries to get these guys relevant playing time to make a difference.
22 Years Old – Finland – RW
Stats: (Red Wings/Career) 3 Games, 0 Points (Griffins/This Regular Season) 71 Games, 59 Points
Hockey’sFuture.com Rating: 7.0 (Second-Line Forward), Potential C
Pulkkinen possesses a wicked hard and accurate shot. It would come in rather handy on the Wings’ power play if Alfredsson does decide to retire. He does need a bit of work in the skating department, but he is able to handle his own when he does have the puck.
22 Years Old – USA – RW
Stats: (Red Wings/Career) 1 Game, 0 Points (Griffins/This Regular Season) 70 Games, 44 Points
Hockey’sFuture.com Rating: 6.0 (Third-Line Forward), Potential C
Callahan is a scraper that plays similar to Luke Glendening’s style of play. In other words, he gets under people’s skin. Many fans know Callahan after he posted a gruesome picture to his Twitter account after taking a puck to the face which broke his jaw. That’s the kind of toughness the Wings could be looking to bring up in the middle of season. Not to mention he can put up a few points.
22 Years Old – Canada – Center
Stats: (Red Wings/Career) 4 Games, 0 Points (Griffins/This Regular Season) 70 Games, 31 Points
Hockey’sFuture.com Rating: 6.5 (Second/Third-Line Forward), Potential C
Like his dad Ray Ferraro, Landon is a quiet leader on and off the ice and likes to fire pucks at the net. Given that he will be playing with the men I listed below as the honorable mentions that should be enough to boost his confidence and set him up for a breakout season.
Worth noting is that Callahan and Ferraro are both restricted free agents this season, so they would need to be re-signed.
Honorable Mentions: Anthony Mantha and Martin Frk
I can’t do a Red Wings’ prospect article without mentioning Anthony Mantha. The kid is slowly becoming a bonafide superstar at 19 years old. Mantha scored the game-winning goal with 52 seconds remaining in game 7 to win the President Cup for his club Val-d’Or (video above). I don’t expect to see a lot of Mantha this season in a winged wheel, but who knows. If he dominates the AHL like he did the QMJHL then Ken Holland will have a difficult time not bringing up the goal scoring machine to the NHL.
Martin Frk is another skilled forward that is highly rated by Hockey’sFuture.com at 7.0. At 20 years old I think it’s going to take another season in the AHL before Frk is ready to make his mark in Detroit. Then again, Jurco was in this same position last year and exploded onto the scene.
This becomes the biggest hole the Red Wings need to fill if Kyle Quincey isn’t re-signed with the team. The Wings are already full of young skaters on the back line (Smith, DeKeyser, Lashoff, and Kindl) but don’t be surprised if they go back to the well one more time.
21 Years Old – Canada – Right-handed Shot
Stats: (Red Wings/Career) 1 Games, 0 Points (Griffins/This Regular Season) 72 Games, 32 Points
Hockey’sFuture.com Rating: 7.0 (No. 3-4 Defenseman), Potential C
Sproul was a work in progress when he came to Grand Rapids in 2011. Now with two full seasons under his belt he has shown tremendous improvement in both his skating and defensive capabilities to compliment his offensive intuition. Plus, Sproul provides a right-handed shot which is something the Wings are in desperate need to have more of.
20 Years Old – Canada – Left-handed Shot
Stats: (Red Wings/Career) 5 Games, 0 Points (Griffins/This Regular Season) 70 Games, 17 Points
Hockey’sFuture.com Rating: 7.0 (No. 3-4 Defenseman), Potential C
Ouellet is a basically the same type of offensive blue liner as Sproul albeit a year younger. Sproul has proven to be the better option over the course of this AHL season, but Ouellet has the better upside. If he continues to develop properly then he should get a few opportunities to make an impact with the Wings later in the season.
22 Years Old – Russia – Right-handed Shot
Stats: (Red Wings/Career) 1 Game, +2 Plus/Minus (Griffins/This Regular Season) 49 Games, 18 Points
Hockey’sFuture.com Rating: 6.5 (No. 4-6 Defenseman), Potential C
The Wings could possibly look at Marchenko for more of a shutdown defenseman instead of an offensive blue liner like Sproul and Ouellet. Alexey is strong skater and under the right circumstances could sneak into the Wings’ lineup and stay there for a while. The defense is crowded with guys that want to score so Marchenko might be the man called upon to fill the defensive gap.
22 Years Old – Czech Republic
Stats: (Red Wings/Career) 11 Games, 3-5-0, 2 Shutouts, 1.8 Goal Against per Game
(Griffins/This Regular Season) 32 Games, 22-9-1, 3 Shutouts, 2.1 Goals Against per Game
Hockey’sFuture.com Rating: 8.0 (No. 1 Goaltender), Potential C
Without a doubt Mrazek is the Red Wing’s future netminder. There is possibility that Petr could be the backup goaltender to Jimmy Howard next season because Jonas Gustavsson is a free agent. However, Mrazek has another year of AHL eligibility left so it would be more beneficially for him to play a full season with the Griffins then to sit behind Howard and get a few games in here and there.
Still convinced the Wings should spend big in free agency?
(Yes.) You’re in luck, possible free agent targets will be looked at next week.
(No.) Cross your fingers that the Wings save at least enough cap room to allow these prospects to travel back and forth freely between the NHL and AHL next season.
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