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Detroit Red Wings Grades: Prospect Forwards

James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

It's time to hand out grades for the hopeful kid forwards and see whether they'll be hanging their report cards on the refrigerator or sitting in detention. Mitch Callahan, Landon Ferraro, Anthony Mantha, and Teemu Pulkkinen were prospects who, at the start of the season had a chance to play for the Wings, or at least we thought they did. In this group we have two 4-year AHL'ers, an AHL rookie, and a Teeny Pokemon and only two of them played in the NHL this year. Their grades are determined mostly on their performances as Red Wings and are based on both season performances and expectations coming into this season.

Let's get to it.

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Mitch Callahan

#57 / RW / Detroit Red Wings

6-0

195

Aug 17, 1991


Season Recap: Mitch Callahan had a great season in Grand Rapids until he suffered a season ending 3rd degree ACL tear in his right knee. Limited to just 48 games, Callahan's 38 points were still good enough to finish 5th on the team in points and his 16 goals were tied for 4th. If this was a Griffins season grade, he'd get an A. This is a Red Wings season grade however, and from the big club's perspective, things aren't good for a kid who has spend 4 years in Grand Rapids and wasn't even a call up consideration. The Wings were pretty healthy up until mid February when Callahan got hurt, but even with injuries I don't think the organization was even looking at Callahan as one of the top 3 forward call ups.

Even before his injury, the Wings were talking about Landon Ferraro as a call up if they needed another bottom 6 grinder. If Callahan's goal had been to be a good AHL player he'd have succeeded, as an NHL hopeful, not so much.

Final Grade: C-

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Landon Ferraro

#29 / Center / Detroit Red Wings

6-01

187

Aug 08, 1991


Season Recap: Coming into this season, it wasn't looking likely that Ferraro would en earn even a call up, but he ended up having the best season of his career, both in the AHL and NHL. After being called up at the end of the regular season and playing 3 games, he played all 7 of the Wings playoff games and it appears the Wings intended to keep him up had they gone further into the playoffs, since he played more than 9 games and would have had to clear waivers again. He scored his first NHL goal in the last regular season and didn't have any points in the playoffs, but he was a good fit on the 4th line and brought speed and energy. After starting the season not knowing if he'd even get to play a single NHL game, he played well in his call ups and was good enough to stay in the lineup for the playoffs. He's poised for the best shot to play in the NHL next season he's had in his career and he has to be pretty satisfied with his performance this year. Hard work pays off.

Final Grade: A

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Anthony Mantha

#39 / LW / Detroit Red Wings

6-04

214

Sep 16, 1994


Season Recap: Well, we already know Mantha had a very very very disappointing season, and I say that with a lot of sadness. (I couldn't resist poking fun again, sorry).

That's quite a dramatic exaggeration of Manthony's season, but it certainly didn't go as planned. Before he had even started his first professional season of hockey, many people thought he'd be ready to jump right into the NHL coming out of training camp. Even without a broken leg that would have been an incredible feat for a kid fresh out of the Q. Even with the tempered expectation that he may get a game or two in a Wings jersey as a call up, Mantha's season was still much rougher than anticipated. With the expectation that he may be ready for a cup of tea at some point this season, the reality was that he wasn't close to ready. His injury no doubt slowed his progress, but based on his play and the areas he struggles with, I don't think he would have been significantly further ahead in the call up department. Was his season disappointing? You betcha. Was is very very very disappointing? Nah. Everyone processes, learns, and adapts as a different rate and the QMJHL is a playground compared to the AHL.

Final Grade: C

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Teemu Pulkkinen

#56 / LW / Detroit Red Wings

5-10

185

Jan 02, 1992


Season Recap: Teemu Pulkkinen, or Teeny Pokemon as he's affectionately know as, has been a goal scoring force in the AHL that no one can contain. Breaking Griffins records left and right is pretty cool, but how did he perform as a Detroit Red Wing? He played 31 games, scored 5 goals and 8 points, averaged 11:29 minutes per game (2.47 min/gm on the power play) , and fired 67 shots on net. He played mostly sheltered competition and zone starts, but still finished 5th among Red Wings forwards in even strength Relative Corsi For%. He didn't play in any playoff games, though the team could have used him, especially on the power play. Teemu's biggest weakness was still needing to figure out where to go on the ice to be most productive, and how to do his goal scoring thing with less time and space than he's used to. It's hard to grade him harshly for that, since 31 games isn't a lot for an NHL player. At the beginning of the season, expectations were that he's be called up at some point in the year to see what he could do, and to help the Wings evaluate if he's part of their future plan. Overall, a pretty good season for Pulkkinen, though it would have been nice to see him in the playoffs.

Final Grade: B+