The 2017 Prospect Tournament is over for the Red Wings. They finished sixth overall out of eight participating teams and won one of their four games. How concerned should we be about this disappointing finish? Exactly 0%, none, not at all. Sure it would be much more fun if the Red Wings hopefully were victorious and raised the Matthew Wuest Trophy again, but in a round robin tournament where you have three games to jockey for positioning, anything can happen to anyone. This tournament means more to players as individuals who want to show they’re ready for the NHL, try to earn playing time with the Grand Rapids Griffins, land an NHL contract with a team, or maybe show they’ve matured and improved in the areas the Red Wings have told them to. The Red Wings team this year had an average age of 20 years old and is relatively inexperienced, in terms of players with professional experience.
Unfortunately the Blackhawks won the tournament after beating the Blue Jackets 3-2 in overtime. And really, the worst part of them winning the tournament, for me personally, is that I’ll have to see a Blackhawks banner hanging at the rink. Here are the full final tournament results.
2nd Blue Jackets
6th Red Wings
You can find box scores for all the games here if you’re interested.
The Wings team lost their first game to the Carolina Hurricanes on Friday night 6-2, lost to the Chicago Blackhawks 4-3 on Saturday, and beat the New York Rangers 4-1 on Monday, before losing to the Blues in their final game. There were stretches of the games where the puck movement, passing, and chemistry between linemates was off the charts. It was incredible to watch players passing the puck so precisely and quickly to each other, and often three or four players would touch the puck as part of a sequence. There are plenty of NHL players who I’ve never seen demonstrate such amazing chemistry and anticipation. Then there were other times when it was chaos on the ice, passes were sent all over the place, and players were scrambling around trying to do everything themselves and doing nothing very well. The times I remember the latter situations was when the team was down late in a game by several goals. Most notably the third period against the Hurricanes and the third period against the Blues. It’s probably indicative of a very young and inexperienced team who haven’t played together and started trying too hard and losing their structure.
I’ll have some player specific evaluations in the coming days, but for now I’ll simply mention a few of the players who really stood out for various reasons. Dominic Turgeon looked like the team captain, even though nobody except the Red Wings Captain wears a “C” on a wings jersey. Axel Holmstrom made a compelling case as to why he’s ready to play a North American pro game, Filip Hronek showed how dynamic he can be, and Evgeny Svechnikov is leaps and bounds ahead of where he was last season with the Griffins. He’s going to make a compelling case in training camp, of that I feel sure. Dominik Shine may “only” have an AHL contract with the Griffins this season, but he was fantastic in the tournament and I’d be doing you all a disservice if I didn’t mention him as one of the standouts. Both Matej Machovsky and camp invite Kaden Fulcher played very well and I was impressed by Fulcher’s performance and demeanor, for a 18 year old OHL goalie he was fantastic against competition that should be quite a bit above his level.
Training Camp starts on Friday, so we’ll get to see a little more of many of the kids who were in the tournament. Stay tuned for Training Camp coverage, as well as more in depth analysis of the prospect performances in the tournament.