We're pretty spoiled here in Detroit when it comes to young talent, I think. If you just take a quick gander at the players who are currently in the AHL or who have come from the AHL this year, you'll quickly notice that they have a serious role not only right now, but in the future. But before these young stars can make it, they gotta earn it. By earn it I mean, they have to do the grunt work down in the juniors. Become stronger, faster, smarter, and overall just a better athlete.
It's hard to keep up with juniors if you're a casual hockey fan.. So I figured why not give you all an update on which prospects are HOT and which are NOT. I'll keep it sweet & simple. Advanced stats aren't really available for junior leagues so all you old grumpy stat-mongering folks are just gonna have to enjoy this the old fashioned way!
I think we are all well-aware of just who the heck he is. He's a point-scoring hot shot who just seems to do nothing but produce. Big Tony finished in the top 5 for points in the WJC with 11 points (5 goals, 6 assists) in just 7 games. He returned to the QMJHL and scored 2 goals in his first game back, making this is 23rd consecutive game with a point or more, tying the club record which was set in 1997-98. You go girl.
Interesting Numbers - QMJHL Network
|2013-14||Val d'Or Foreurs||QMJHL||34||37||38||75||38||14|
Andreas Athanasiou - 2012 NHL Draft 110th overall
Andreas is an offensive dynamo, much like Mantha. He is a different type of player, though.. Athanasiou brings home the bacon with blistering speed, and slick moves. In the month of January, Andreas has 8 points (4g, 4a) in 5 games. He's white hot right now.
Athanasiou on a mission | Red Wings Central
Ben Marshall - 2010 NHL Draft 201st overall
Ben has flown under the radar in the prospect pool, but don't let that fool you.. Ben Marshall is a fantastic example of a responsible and effective offensive defenseman. He has had a great January campaign so far posting 1 goal and 4 assists in just 5 games. He also leads his team with blocked shots.
Minnesota defeats Penn State 3-2; takes over first place in Big Ten - SB Nation College Hockey
|2013-14||U. of Minnesota||Big-10||19||3||7||10||31||0|
Jake Paterson - 2012 NHL Draft 80th overall
Jake Paterson is a work-horse. After going 1-1-0 in the WJC (in which he was swapped out for Zach Fucale.. Look how that turned out), Jake returned to the OHL with back-to-back wins including a 30 save shutout. Jake tells me one thing about the future in Detroit's goaltending: There will be depth.
Jake Paterson's dynamite performance gives Spirit first shutout since 2012 in win over London | MLive.com
Great, man! So... Who's not so hot?
Zach Nastasiuk - 2013 NHL Draft 48th overall
Though his stats don't look terrible, Zach has stumbled onto a cold streak as of late posting only two points in his last 10 games. He started his season off pretty hot after being named the captain of his squad in Owen Sound.
|2013-14||Owen Sound Attack||OHL||43||13||20||33||18||-9|
Jared Coreau - 2013 UFA
Jared is having a rough transition from the collegiate level to the pros. He has spent most of his season in Toledo on account of McCollum and Mrazek holding it down in Grand Rapids.. I have reason to believe that he has been a victim to an absolutely dismal Toledo Walleye team. My god, they are bad. Jared looks to bounce back in the second half of the season, but it won't be easy. With Jake Paterson moving up to the AHL level next season and the possibility of Petr Mrazek spending time down there next season as well, Jared will find himself buried in the depth chart.
|2013-14||Grand Rapids Griffins||AHL||3||7||4.01||0||2||0||.860|
I'd like to mention that like the Detroit Red Wings, the prospects have been dealing with injuries as well. Tyler Bertuzzi was having one hell of a season posting 35 pts (10g, 25a) in just 29 games until he was sidelined with a head injury after a fight. He's been out since December 8th, hopefully we see him back in action soon. On top of that, Rasmus Bodin has been out with a chronic back & hip issue. Hakan Andersson has stated that his health and play has slumped to an extreme level and he most likely will not be offered a contract with Detroit. Hampus Melen, Detroit 199th overall pick in the 2013 NHL Draft's season has ended due to a serious "acute respiratory disease that causes extreme fatigue and impairs breathing." Hampus is 18 years old, so seeing something like this really sucks.
Melen’s season over with health ailment | Red Wings Central
Obviously, with Grand Rapids, and the players we have in the juniors, there is plenty of talent to go 'round. As for next year you can expect to see names like Athanasiou, Mantha, Nastasiuk, and Paterson in the AHL next year to start their pro development.
- There is no doubt in my mind that the Detroit Red Wings getting Anthony Mantha 20th overall has got to be the steal of the century, but it's important to remember that anything can happen. After witnessing what can happen to a hotshot like Martin Frk in his transition from the juniors to the pros, it's important to be realistic. If you want my honest opinion, Mantha could be the real deal.. He's got all the tools and can be taught the likes of strong 2-way play. He is a natural goal-scorer and that is something that cannot be taught. Take what you will, but his stats aren't a fluke. He performed well in the WJC, so that tells me something.
- As far as Andreas Athanasiou goes, I feel we will see a similar story with him as we did with Tomas Jurco. Highly skilled puck-handling with flashy moves struggle early, then pick up steam and become a force. Paired with his speed and his physical growth, I like where his abilities can take him.. He is a great steal at 110th overall.
- Jake Paterson is a goaltender with tremendous upside as he has a fantastic demeanor. Goalies who come from the OHL are always my favorite because they are usually scored on hundreds and hundreds of time due to poor defense. Even though this sounds bad, it creates a sort of iron-casing around their abilities to shrug it off. Jake is one of my favorite prospects and I fully expect him to be a force for Grand Rapids when Petr Mrazek inevitably makes his move to the NHL level.
- Zach Nastasiuk is a player who has the ability to score, but also has the 2-way hockey state of mind. This is why I think Zach can be a future commodity for this team. Also, being the captain for his squad gives him some leadership experience, which in this organization, is worth it's weight in gold.
Now, I could be completely wrong.. There's a possibility that all of these players turn into a serious force, or a serious farce. That's the beautiful thing about prospects.. You get new ones every year. Some are busts, and some are beasts. After the 2013 draft and what Ken Holland made happen, rest assured that there is plenty of talent to keep coming our way. With players out of options next season, I fully expect to see the lot of thee guys starting their pro development in the 2014-2015 season.
Jake Paterson won his 3rd consecutive start on Friday stopping 59 of 60 shots in a 3-1 win over the London Knights. Jake is now 3-0-0 with a 2.00 GAA and a .955 SV% since his return from the WJC. He is pretty good.