Greetings, hello, welcome, no you may not bring your pet snuffleupagus in here.
We're a little past the mid-way point of the season for the Red Wings prospects who are in Juniors, College, and Europe. That being the case, naturally Kyle and I sat down and analyzed, evaluated, and graded their seasons so far. Most of the report cards look pretty good, although it's not all sunshine and skittle farts. First up on the hot-seat are the forwards, so let's get right down to business.
A = Excellent / blew away expectations
B = Above average/exceeded expectations
C = Average/met expectations
D = Below average/ didn't meet expectations
F = Fail
The Forward Grades:
|22||Andreas Athanasiou||LW/C||Barrie Colts||OHL||41||28||32||60||+20||36|
Kyle: Andreas is red hot right now. He is currently #11 in the OHL for top scoring and is showing now signs of slowing down. Over his past 6 games this month he has 12 points, good for 8 goals and 4 assists. Reason he has received the grade he has is because he started off his season slower than expected.. Mind you even after 15 games he was a point per game player.
Michelle: Double A is 7 points and 1 goal away from his career highs, but in 25 fewer games and is on pace for 97 points this season. Early in the season there was a stretch of time when his production dropped off, and when I got to watch him play, he seemed as if he wasn't 100% there. Whatever he was working through, he seems to have put it behind him and he's pouring it on now. For a guy taken in the middle of the 4th round, and looking to make the transition to the AHL next year, he's making a very good impression.
|17||Tyler Bertuzzi||LW||Guelph Storm||OHL||29||10||25||35||+9||49|
Kyle: Tyler should be given an A+, in my opinion. The only thing keeping him from it is his injury that he sustained which has kept him out of the lineup since December 8th. Prior to that, Tyler was posting impressive numbers and doing so with consistency. In his season prior, Tyler had 22 points (13 goals, 9 assists) through 43 games. As you see above, well. He has greatly stepped up his game since being drafted at 58th overall. In addition to his stats spiking, his size and speed has as well. Tyler will spend two more years in the juniors earning his contract with Detroit. Should be exciting to see what kind of player he is like if he keeps progressing like he is now.
Michelle: I don't see how we could not give Tyler an A. When we drafted him in the 2nd round I think many Wings fans had a moment of stunned silence, followed by angry confusion. He certainly was a surprise pick, but he's done an incredible job this year of showing that the Wings may have been very smart to take him when they did. No player has made more improvement, progress, and had more growth since the draft than young Bertuzzi. I don't know yet when Bertuzzi will be back from his head/neck injury, but he's already had a career best season in every way possible. If not for the injury and missing so much time, He's absolutely have an A+.
Rasmus Bodin: D-
|15||Rasmus Bodin||LW||Linköpings HC||J20 Superelit||14||0||2||2||-3||2||5||0|
Kyle: It's hard for me to really analyze what kind of player Rasmus is. He has suffered an awful back and hip injury.. Since being drafted in 2012 at 200th overall, Rasmus has played in 38 games and hasn't scored one single goal. Hakan Andersson states the following: "I can’t see us signing him. There’s no progress.. It’s a seventh-rounder that didn’t go well."
Michelle: Bodin was projected to be a checking winger who used his size, worked hard, and fill a role simmilar to that of pre 2012-2013 Justin Abdelkader. Since being drafted however, Bodin just hasn't progressed much and from the Hakan Andersson quote above, it sounds like he's going to be a player that just doesn't work out for the Wings. When the Wings' Director of European Scouting, and one of the best scouts in the business comes out and says there's no progress and we're not going to sign him, expectations were clearly not me.
|71||Philippe Hudon||F||Victoriaville Tigres||QMJHL||37||13||4||17||-7||45||81||3||1|
Kyle: Philipe Hudon is on track for a disappointing season to what has been expected of him. He has an absolute rocket of a shot but his delivery is like watching molasses fall out of a jar. He's a big frame with strength and the ability to crash the net, only problem is finishing what he starts. Detroit holds rights to Hudon until 2015 and unless he fires up, I wouldn't expect much more out of him.
Michelle: Hudon has never been a highly skilled player who's known for point production. He's a player who works works works, grinds, mucks, uses his size to be physical, and puts up a few points. He's currently on pace for 26 points this season, which would fall short of his production last year. He gets a C, because expectations aren't very high for him, and he's right about where I expected him to be. I'm not sure if he's in Detroit's future plans, but I'm leaning towards probably not.
Mattias Janmark: B+
Kyle: Mattias Janmark is pretty dang good considering what he has had to deal with. According to Hakan Andersson, he hasn't been able to fully train his lower-body due to a knee injury he had sustained. He is on pace to be putting up much better points than his previous years. He is also serving some sizable ice time... Barring a setback with his health, I see him finishing his year with 25-30 goals scored.
Michelle: Before his knee injury, Janmark was tearing up the SHL and was in the top 10 for points and top 5 for goals while playing the 2nd most time per game among all forwards in the league. He's already beat his goal total from last year and is only 4 points shy of his total last season, but in 20 fewer games. Since his injury (which I believe he came back too early from ), his point production has slumped, but I think that's due primarily to the injury, so I can't be too hard on him. He was passed over in the 2012 draft and that's surprising looking at him now. He can do everything, play in every situation, and he's earned some pretty high praise. (Read that whole article and tell me you're not even more impressed)
"Every team in the league, the coaches I've talked to all tell me, they have to look out for him and make sure their D know all about him, because he's a threat when he has the puck," said Red Wings director of European scouting Hakan Andersson. "You look away for a second and something is going on. He makes chances happen out of nothing."
Add that to the fact that last summer was his first time with "some kind of real training" and that's pretty impressive. He may be shaping up to be a late bloomer who is yet another steal for the Wings. Keep your eye on this kid.
|8||Anthony Mantha||F||Val d'Or Foreurs||QMJHL||37||38||41||79||15||40||201||16||6||5|
Kyle: What can I say that hasn't already said about Big Tony? He's a fuckin' hotshot with an ability to put up points night in and night out. Anthony leads the QMJHL in scoring with 79 pts in 37 Games.. Next closest player has 69 pts in 45 games. But probably my favorite part about Anthony aside from his scoring abilities is his size and his attitude. The problem is that his production in the juniors has been so fantastic that at this point when he enters the pro-level, the expectations are to be a top line goal-scorer. I have no doubts that he will be able to do as such. I mean just look.. 201 shots on goal in 37 games. WHAT THE HELL.
Michelle: So, I guess 79 points in 37 games is ok, eh? There were questions after the draft about his consistency and compete level, but he has, by all accounts, put those qualms to rest. He consistently puts up point after point after point, and is a goal scoring machine. He's on pace for 122 points and 61 goals... in 58 games. It sounds too good to be true, but I think he can do it.
Hampus Melèn: Incomplete
|69||Hampus Melèn||RW||Tingsryds AIF||J20 Superelit||11||0||5||5||-6||14||17||0||34.62|
Kyle: Pretty much what Michelle is saying on this. You can't really dissect his progress or give him an actual grade because I don't think he can actually breathe right now. Get well soon, Hamper. (that is his nickname now)
Michelle: Melèn gets an incomplete for his season so far because an "acute respiratory disease that causes extreme fatigue and impairs breathing" has limited him to only 11 games this season. It's hard to play well when...
"He'd get exhausted, completely worn out in practice, go to the bench, and couldn't figure out what it was," Andersson said. "He'd rest, come back and then it would hit him harder. The good thing is he's been diagnosed with the proper thing and they're working on it. He'll be working with the No. 1 expert (on the illness) in Sweden (later this month)."
|27||Zach Nastasiuk||RW||Owen Sound Attack||OHL||45||14||21||35||-9||18|
Kyle: Captain Nasty! Zach To The Future! The Zach Attack! Okay. Well, anyways. Nastasiuk has had a rough month, but so has his team. They have only won two games this month, so it's hard for the young captain to carry an inefficient team on his back. Despite having a rough month of December and January, Zach is still on pace to be above 50 points by season's end. He started his season hot, so you know he's got it in him. I expect him to break out of his slump and finish his season strong.
Michelle: Despite having only 2 points in his last 10 games, Nasty is still only 5 points shy of his total from last season in 17 fewer games. He as named team Captain this year, and even his good stats don't tell the whole story of how good he is. Nasty has great vision and awareness, he's one of the most disciplined players not in the NHL that I've watched play, he plays a ton of minutes, is on the PK and PP, and plays like he's the energizer bunny. He's a 2-way player in a league where 2-way play isn't widespread, and he plays with maturity beyond his years. So far, this has been a great year for the Zach.
David Pope: B-
|9||David Pope||F||West Kelowna||BCHL||29||15||11||26||12||2||3|
Kyle: I'll be honest, I don't follow him like I should be. He seems to be putting up semi decent numbers by BCHL standards. 15 goals thru 29 games isn't something to be upset about. He's just shy of a point per game.. So let's hope he keeps it up. David is committed to NCAA hockey with Nebraska-Omaha for 2014-2015.
Michelle: He's not overwhelming, he's not underwhelming, he's just about right. He's on pace to come in just under his points total for last year but he's getting a little bigger, a little stronger, and could end up beating last year's totals.
Marek Tvrdon: D
|17||Marek Tvrdon||LW||Grand Rapids Griffins||AHL||1||0||0||0||0||0|
Kyle: This sucks, man. There were such high hopes for him this season. But as we saw with Martin Frk, Marek had problems producing, and he has ended up with the short of the stick being flushed back into the juniors. I feel Marek will use this(hopefully) as motivation and bounce back next season. Though, it won't be easy for him. The prospect talent in Detroit isn't getting any less talented.
Michelle: It was difficult to give him such a low grade and I almost gave him an incomplete instead. Based on his performances and results this season, I'd be hard pressed not to be a little disappointed. As we discussed here however, I'm not so much disappointed with Tvrdon himself, as I am with his circumstances. Only having 13 points in 22 games in the ECHL before being sent back to Juniors may sound like failure on the part of a player as skilled as Tvrdon, but taking his injuires, health scares, and resulting hindered development into consideration makes it difficult to be hard on the kid. At the start of the season, the Wings were on the fence about even having him turn pro yet, and it was a decision that didn't pan out. In 3 games with the Rockets he already has 2 goals, and I think this season can still be a good one for him.