We all love debating prospect rankings, but something that always drags the process down is debating who exactly counts as a prospect. Zadina? Rasmussen? Hronek? This list eschews all those difficulties by setting the bar for prospecthood on the floor: This is a ranking of every single player on the Red Wings' reserve list, according to their value to the franchise going forward, divided into a handy 16 tiers. If you prefer an actual prospect ranking, just define "prospect" however you like, remove the players who don't count, and voila, you have my prospect ranking according to your criteria.
NOTE: These rankings are based mostly on what I've read, especially Scott Wheeler's recent prospect ranking, and heard, mainly Wings for Breakfast. (With the exception of the players who I have actually seen in the NHL.) But I will fight to the death anyone who disagrees with anything, no matter how trivial.
Tier 16: The Albatrosses
These players have literal negative value to the organization.
#76. Justin Abdelkader, F, NHL
Needs no explanation.
#75. Frans Nielsen, C, NHL
Contract doesn't last as long as Abdelkader's, is more buy-out friendly.
#74. Kaden Fulcher, G, ECHL
Kaden Fulcher is my favorite Red Wings prospect, because he is the most obscure. Signed by Holland as a UDFA two years ago when the Wings had zero goalies in their pipeline, Fulcher cannot even win the backup job in Toledo. Every once in a while I see a fan on the internet mistake him for a real prospect and I get a chuckle out of it. Why is he an albatross since he's not taking up a roster spot or cap space? It's because he has his ELC slid twice and so will count against the Wings' all-important 50-contract limit for two more years after this one.
Tier 15: The Retirees
These players are retired and on LTIR. Thanks to LTIR they count basically zero against the cap, although from what I understand LTIR is not free and there is some significant constraints it places on the team and how/when they make certain roster moves. More importantly, they do count against the 50-contract limit.
#73. Henrik Zetterberg, God, Retired
#72. Kyle Brodziak, F, Retired
#71. Johan Franzen, F, Retired
Tier 14: The Ghosts
These players are on the Red Wings reserve list technically, but have absolutely no place in the organization whatsoever, thanks to the fact that Russian players' reserve list rights never expire. They do count agains the Wings' 90-man reserve list limit, but teams never come close to that limit.
#70. Miroslav Blatak, D, Retired
#69. Alexander Kadeykin, F, KHL
Kadeykin slightly higher because he is still playing.
Tier 13. The Warm Bodies
The opposite of ghosts! Both warm, and corporeal. These guys all have no future value to the Wings, because their contracts will expire and the trade deadline has passed. Well, except they do offer one important thing to the club: They help the Red Wings meet their contractual and moral obligation to field an actual 20-person hockey team for each of the team's remaining games. They also help the Wings tank by being bad, but given that the Wings have already pretty much locked up #1 odds, not even their badness is of value anymore.
#68. Cody Goloubef, D, NHL
#67. Jonathon Ericsson, D, NHL
#66. Alex Biega, D, NHL
#65. Trevor Daley, D, NHL
#64. Sam Gagner, F, NHL
#63. Jimmy Howard, G, NHL
Tier 12. The Unsigned Longshots
I really know nothing about this next tier of players, other than that they are 1) late round picks, 2) haven't yet been signed by the team, and 3) I haven't heard anything about any of them. So I assume they won't be signed. But who knows! I could be wrong, so the small chance that they could actually turn into something pushes them above the Warm Bodies.
#62. Mattias Elfström, F, Europe
#61. Alfons Malmström, D, Europe
#60. Patrick Holway, D, NCAA
#59. Jack Adams, D, NCAA
Tier 11. Goalie Wilderness
These guys probably belong in Tier 12, or even Tier 14, but by virtue of being goalies, where the Wings are incredibly thin, they make the list.
#58. Patrik Rybár, G, Europe
Signed by the Wings as a Euro UDFA two years ago, he was in GR last year and was actually good. The Wings wanted to keep him and thought he had an NHL future. But, maybe because he saw he didn't have a shot at the NHL team this year, he went back to Europe. Tough luck for the organization. But the Wings actually do retain he rights until he turns 27 (another year) so if he lights it up, who knows, they could bring him back.
#57. Joren Van Pottelberghe, G, Europe
Drafted by the Wings in the 4th round of 2015, they actually wanted to sign him two years ago, but he declined because he wanted to stay in Switzerland another year. Unfortunately for him, the Wings then gave up on him. But they retain his rights indefinitely so in theory they could bring him over at any time.
Tier 10. The AHL Vets
These guys are sort of like the AHL equivalent of Tier 13, and are on basically the same skill level as the Tier 13 guys, but provide much more value to the organization because they play in the AHL, and therefore serve the important task of helping make the Griffins a competitive hockey team, which is important for the development of our prospects. Another important role they fulfill is as injury call-ups when Stevie would prefer to let the prospects simmer. Some of them are also on the young side and could theoretically still make it, but don't count on it.
#56. Chris Terry, F, AHL
#55. Turner Elson, F, AHL
#54. Matt Puempel, F, AHL
#53. Calvin Pickard, G, AHL
#52. Brian Lashoff, D, AHL
#51. Dylan McIlrath, D, AHL
#50. Dominic Turgeon, F, AHL
#49. Joe Hicketts, D, AHL
Tier 9. The Trending AHL Vets
These guys are mostly still in the NHL and are all pending RFAs. I assume the Wings will not re-sign any of them, unless maybe they can be traded for table scraps in the offseason. But I could also see any and all of them returning, if only to slot into the AHL Vet role described in Tier 10.
#48. Kyle Wood, D, AHL
I'm putting him here mostly because I know nothing about him. He may already belong in the previous tier, or maybe he should be in a higher tier.
#47. Christoffer Ehn, C, NHL
The Wings should either keep him or Dominic Turgeon, not both.
#46. Adam Erne, F, NHL
He was worth a shot but didn't pan out. Still, a serviceable 4th-liner -- maybe we could get a late pick for him and recoup some of our loss? Eh probably not.
#45. Brendan Perlini, F, NHL
#44. Madison Bowey, D, NHL
I actually think the Wings could get something for him given his point totals. Also a decent chance he comes back as the 7th D next year. But long term, he's not part of the Wings NHL core. (I hope.)
Tier 8. The Projects
These players could all easily end up in Tier 12. Like those players, they were mostly drafted late and I know very little about them. But! These guys have either actually done enough to get reported on a bit, or have the advantage of having been drafted a lot more recently and still having lots of time to surprise us all, or both. If one or two of these guys turn out, that would be great.
#43. Ryan O'Reilly, F, Junior (next: NCAA)
I've heard almost nothing about him, but he was a mid-rounder, was honorably mentioned by Wheeler, and the Wings have an eternity until he must sign (2023).
#42. Cooper Moore, D, Junior (next: NCAA)
I've heard absolutely nothing about him, but he was a mid-rounder, was honorably mentioned by Wheeler, and the Wings have an even longer eternity until he must sign (2024).
#41. Kasper Kotkansalo, D, NCAA
Heard a fair bit about this guy, and he was a 3rd rounder. I don't know much other than that he plays the third pair for BU and occasionally gets flexed to forward, which kinda tells me he's not exactly indispensable as a D. Not a great sign. Wings have one more year to decide on him.
#40. Malte Setkov, D, Europe
Also honorably mentioned by Wheeler, Wings have one more year to decide. Will update my priors considerably when Yzerman either does or does not sign him this summer.
#39. Gustav Berglund, D, Europe
Has forever to sign, heard a good thing or two about him. Rankings are meaningless, btw.
#38. Kirill Tyutyayev, F, Europe
Eyebrow went up when the Wings drafted him in the 7th this past year, with dreams of him being the next Kivenmäki (who we in turn dream of being the next Datsyuk). Other eyebrow went up when Wheeler ranked him #19 in the Wings farm system. Both eyebrows are now officially up!
#37. Carter Gylander, G, Junior (next: NCAA)
Ranked #20 in Wheeler's list. All aboard the Gylander hype train! He's a goalie, so he gets a boost for that.
#36. Victor Brattstrom, G, Europe
Honorably mentioned in Wheeler's list. Again, getting a boost due to playing a position the Wings are thin at. Must sign this year so he will either jump up on this list or fall off it entirely very soon.
Tier 7. The NHL Assets
It's funny what you convey by describing a player as an "asset" rather than, a player who contributes something of value to the team, given that those two things are supposedly synonymous. These guys are decent, possibly even above replacement-level. They are still under contract which means the Wings could at least in theory potentially get something for them at a future deadline.
#35. Darren Helm F, NHL
Worth a 6th rounder, maybe, in 2021?
#34. Valtteri Filppula, C, NHL
Worth a 5th rounder, maybe, in 2021?
#33. Danny DeKeyser, D, NHL
Maybe still around as the 6th/7th D when the Wings next contend?
#32. Luke Glendening, C, NHL
Maybe still around as 4th line winger when the Wings next contend?
#31. Patrik Nemeth, D, NHL
Wings best trade chip in '21. 2nd+?
#30. Jonathan Bernier, G, NHL
We can hope he nets a 2nd, but the goalie trade market always sucks, which should temper our hopes. And of course he may simply regress next year. But he makes it this high because keeping the Wings at least approximately close to being in games is probably preventing untold psychic damage to our young players.
Tier 6. The Possible Depth Pieces
We are getting into actual honest to god prospects now! These guys all have reasonably good shots at being NHL depth players. Some may not make it, and hopefully one of them exceeds those expectations, but if we don't get a few solid guys out of this group, it's bad.
#29. Albin Grewe, F, Europe
After all the hype in the summer, the excitement about him seems to be slowing down a bit.
#28. Dima Timashov, F, NHL
Mostly here cause I don't know anything about him.
#27. Chase Pearson, F, AHL
#26. Seth Barton, D, NCAA
#25. Albert Johansson, D, Europe
Tier 5. The Possible Top Pieces
These guys project to be impact players if they make it, but of course they might not make it. You hope all these guys at least make it to the AHL and contribute to some extent.
#24. Jesper Eliasson, G, Europe
#23. Otto Kivenmäki, F, Europe
#22. Elmer Söderblom, F, Europe
#21. Ethan Phillips, F, NCAA
Tier 4. The Booms or Busts
These guys have all had a lot of high expectations placed on them by the fan base at one point or another, and have all given us reasons to wish we had never had those expectations. But none of them are out of it and hopefully one or two from this group become something close to what we hoped for. But the floor is real low with this group.
#20. Taro Hirose, F, AHL
#19. Evegeny Svechnikov, F, AHL
#18. Fillip Larsson, G, AHL/ECHL
#17. Dennis Cholowski, D, NHL/AHL
Tier 3. The Definite Depth Pieces
These guys have done enough to convince (well, me at least) that they are gonna be contributors at the NHL level. The ceiling isn't much higher than what they are currently doing, but we'll definitely take 'em.
#16. Givani Smith, F, AHL
#15. Gustav Lindström, D, NHL/AHL
#14. Robby Fabbri, F, NHL
Tier 2. The Hopefully Top Pieces
These guys probably don't project all that much higher than the previous tier, and because they are all further off, could fall further than that tier as well. But they all have a decent shot at becoming actual impact pieces, and for the most part should be depth guys at worst.
#13. Keith Petruzzelli, G, NCAA
#12. Antti Tuomisto, D, Euro Juniors (next: NCAA)
#11. Robert Mastrosimone, F, NCAA
#10. Jared McIsaac, D, Juniors
#9. Jonatan Berggren, F, Europe
#8. Joe Veleno, C, AHL
#7. Michael Rasmussen, C, AHL
Tier 1. The Core
Speaks for itself.
#6. Filip Hronek, D, NHL
#5. Tyler Bertuzzi, F, NHL
#4. Filip Zadina, F, NHL
#3. Moritz Seider, D, AHL
#2. Anthony Mantha, F, NHL
#1. Dylan Larkin, C, NHL