Name: Joe Hicketts
Shoots: Left (no groans about his shooting preference, please...)
Height: a towering 5’8’’
Weight: 175lbs, or 12.5 stone for anyone who wants to get fancy
Signed: Sept. 24, 2014 (undrafted)
Birthday: May 4, 1996
2015-2016 Team: Victoria Royals (WHL)
Don't let the size fool you. Hicketts is a big-time player who can step it up on the ice and in the locker room. And he's making sure that Red Wings management knows it.
He impressed management from the start though - so it shouldn't be a surprise that he continues to do so. Hicketts was a priority signing after the 2014 development camp and Prospect Tournament, both of which he attended as an invitee of the Red Wings. His skill and work ethic convinced the Wings brass that they couldn't let the Victoria Royals assistant-captain slip past them, and he was able to return to western Canada for the 2014-2015 season with a shiny new ELC in hand.
So what's happened since that impressive 2014 offseason? For starters, the same skill and work ethic that earned him the ELC from our organization earned him the captain’s ‘‘C’’ for the Royals. He was also named an assistant-captain for Canada’s U20 World Junior team earlier this summer.
Carrying the ‘‘C’’ for the past two years with the Royals, Joe has put up some great numbers as well to show he’s not just a locker room guy. Back-to-back 60-point seasons (slow your roll, the WHL is almost as offensively gaudy as the QMJHL) have certified him as one of the more gifted defensemen in that league. The company he keeps at the top of the season stats sheet is nothing to shake a stick at - with Joe ranking as the WHL's #2 defenseman by points in 2014-2015 and #7 in 2015-2016, he's up there with guys like Travis Sanheim, Jake Bean, and Ivan Provorov (all 3 of whom were 1st round picks in their Draft years). But how does he do it at his size?
Hicketts compensates for his size with skating and puck moving abilities. The guy knows how to quarterback a powerplay, how to find open ice, and where to thread a puck. YouTube has more than a few videos uploaded of Hicketts making things happen for his team and helping drive play in the offensive zone - otherwise known as "exactly the skill set the Wings could use right now’’...
What happens with Hicketts moving forward? 2015-2016 was his last year with the Victoria Royals, so he will be considerably closer in proximity to the big club this coming season. However, there's a degree of uncertainty about if he will be playing with the Grand Rapids Griffins or the Toledo Walleye - not a large degree of uncertainty, mind you, but a degree does exist.
Given his past performance, there is absolutely no reason to suspect Hicketts will play anywhere other than Van Andel Arena this season. The Griffins have even gone so far as to list him in the "Detroit Red Wings’’ area of their roster on their website. However, the Griffins also currently boast 9 other defensemen (8 if we assume one of Sproul, Jensen, or Ouellet makes the NHL roster). Could the log-jam push someone like Hicketts all the way down to Toledo for a potential team-up with Vili Saarijärvi to form the "Tiny Terrors’’ pairing? Probably not. But, weirder things have happened with this organization this summer - like signing Steve Ott.