The tenth edition of my prospect profile series examines another defenseman looking to find playing time with the Red Wings this upcoming season: Alexey Marchenko.
Defenseman – Russia– Age 22
6-foot-2, ~210 pounds – Shoots Right-handed
Drafted 205th overall in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft
Career Stats (Regular Season Only)
Strengths / Weaknesses
+ Reliable, Defensive Minded, Right-handed Shot
– Staying Healthy
Alexey Marchenko is exactly the type of defenseman the Red Wings want on their 2nd or 3rd pairing heading into opening night, October 9th, against the Boston Bruins… if he was fully polished and healthy. Marchenko’s three strengths listed above resemble the type of player Ken Holland and Mike Babcock were looking to bring in during the offseason. A guy they could trust to take on pressure minutes without making mistakes and with a right-handed shot to compliment all the other lefty defensemen.
While Marchenko’s stats aren’t eye-popping good, they almost never are for defensive defensemen. He makes his mark by being constant, taking his opportunities wisely, and setting his teammates up with crisp and accurate passes. Although, he will try to thread the needle one too many times which sometimes gets him into trouble.
Why isn’t he getting a chance with the Wings? Health concerns. Marchenko suffered a season ending high-ankle sprain in late February which marked the third time in the past five years he had to deal with a severe setback. He just can’t catch a break.
There is no question he has talent. It’s going to be finding a way to stay on the ice and get his big break into the NHL that will be the hard part.
Don’t expect a shutdown defender like Girardi or Boychuk, but on a lower pairing Marchenko could easily hold his own against 3rd and 4th liners. My customary Red Wings comparison is Ericsson due to his defensive responsibility and not their difference in size or handedness. It’s that ability to get through a game without being recognized for a major mistake that’s links the two of them together.
RedWingsCentral.com: #5 rated Red Wings’ prospect
Hockey’sFuture.com: Potential 2nd or 3rd line pairing
Defensemen wise Marchenko is ranked lower then both Xavier Ouellet (#3) and Ryan Sproul (#4) at RedWingsCentral.com. I think that’s fair enough in terms of future talent. But in terms of players that the Wings desperately need to fill roles then I’d have to think Marchenko jumps straight to the top of the list when healthy. The Wings have too many offensive defensemen that like to rush up the ice. Ouellet and Sproul, to some extent, both fit into that category while Marchenko is the exact opposite.
Sadly, as much as the Wings could use a defenseman like Marchenko, it looks like he is going to get stuck playing the waiting game in Grand Rapids. Coming off his ankle injury, along with his long injury history, the Red Wings are going to be skeptical about pushing him to the NHL when they have two other caliber defensemen in Ouellet and Sproul waiting for their turn as well.
All three of them are restricted free agents after 2016-17 season. Realistically the Wings are probably thinking they get 1, maybe 2, NHL regulars from this trio. Can Marchenko stay healthy enough to claim one of those spots?
Time will tell; Hockeytown can only wish him the best of luck. For now Alexey Marchenko sits and waits patiently in Grand Rapids as scouts rave about his talent but question if he will last long enough to have a future in the NHL.
Other Red Wings’ Prospect Profiles
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