Last week, left winger Marek Tvrdon was sent back to juniors from the Toledo Walleye. He was sent back to his previous WHL team, the Vancouver Giants, who traded him to the Kelowna Rockets. He's now teammates with fellow Wings prospect Mitchell Wheaton. Tvrdon struggled to make the jump to the ECHL this season, putting up only 13 points (9G 4A) in 22 games with the Walleye. He played one game with the Grand Rapids Griffins back in October and his only appearance on the stat sheet was 3 shots on goal. It was a possibility at the beginning of the season that if Tvrdon didn't fare well in the ECHL/AHL this season, he could return to Juniors for his overage year,. The Wings even had a tough time deciding if he was ready to turn pro yet or not.
Scouting reports on Tvrdon say he has all the tools needed to be a top 6 forward in the NHL, and Red Wings scout Jeff Finley even compared him to Tomas Jurco back in 2011. He's a big body at 6'2" 217 pounds, and he's a surprisingly good skater, especially for someone his size. He has a rocket of a shot and knows hot to hit the net. There's a lot of skill and potential in Tvrdon, but his development has been severely held back because of injuries. in 3 seasons in the WHL from, he played a grand total of 90 out of a possible 216 regular season games. He managed to put up 107 points (45G 62A) in those games, but missing almost 60% of his junior career with serious injuries have really held his development back.
|2013-14||Grand Rapids Griffins*||AHL||1||0||0||0||0||0|
|2013-14||Kelowna Rockets||WHL||Statistics Unavailable|
He only played 12 games in the 2010-2011 season before having season ending shoulder surgery, then managed to play 60 out of 72 games in the 2011-2012 season. In November 2012 he had a blood clot (blockage) in a vein in his left shoulder that eventually led to surgery and the removal of one of his ribs. That caused him to miss all but 18 games last season, but Tvrdon was just glad he's be able to play hockey again.
It's difficult to get a really good read on him and know what to expect in his future because of the small sample size and impact of all the injuries. He's played well and put up impressive numbers when he's been healthy enough to play, but when I saw him at Development camp this summer, he looked slow, rusty, and foggy. That's to be expected from not playing for 8 months and probably not being able to practice or work out much either. He looked better a month later during the Prospects Tournament, looser, faster, and more up to speed, but he was still clearly behind where he should have been developmentally. It would have been nice if he were able to progress faster in the ECHL, but ultimately I'm not surprised the Wings sent him back to Juniors. At this time I think he'll be better off playing a lot (provided he can stay healthy) against easier competition and getting some of the development he missed due to injuries.
Tvrdon could end up being a disappointment based on the expectations, or he could develop into a late bloomer who surprises a lot of people. I think the latter will be the case, and the Wings have time to let him develop at whatever pace he needs to. I think going back to juniors is a good move and hopefully he can stay healthy this season and be ready to join the pro ranks next season.