Hey hey it looks like hockey is back!
I won’t let myself get too excited until the deal has been officially ratified but today is certainly the most promising of this 100+ day ordeal.
Not that there hasn’t been hockey played all along, mind you. Detroit prospects in Grand Rapids, junior hockey and Europe have been busy developing into future Wings.
With that, here’s a look back at the Wings ’12 draft class:
Martin Frk — Round 2, 49 overall (Halifax, QMJHL), 6’0″ 198 lbs
After trading their first round pick, for the second consecutive season, to Tampa Bay in exchange for Kyle Quincey the Red Wings made Martin Frk their first selection in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.
I’d had my eye on Frk since the 2011 World Junior Championships when the guy with no vowels in his last name piqued my curiosity. His play on the ice, however, is what really had me intrigued.
I was looking forward to getting another look at him in the 2012 WJC, but a concussion robbed him of that opportunity. When the Wings selected him, I was excited about the pick from what I remembered of his 2011 campaign, but wanted to get another look.
After speaking with him earlier this season and watching him in the 2013 WJC, I’m with what I see. Frk possesses possibly the hardest shot in junior hockey, no exaggeration.
In one WJC game, he scored twice on unscreened one-timers where the goalie didn’t even flinch. That’s how fast the puck got by him.
Frk likes to set up at the top of the umbrella on power plays, or in the left circle, for one-time opportunities. He is very similar to fellow Wings pick Teemu Pulkkinen in that sense.
He also reminds me of another (current) Wing in Johan Franzen in that he is a solidly-built guy with a cannon of a shot and a propensity for taking dumb penalties (he’s been suspended a couple of times this year) and occasionally going missing for stretches offensively. When he’s on though, he is absolutely dynamite.
Here is Corey Pronman (who, if you’re not already, you should be following on Twitter) with his take on Frk’s WJC.
Frk was ok. His line didn’t do a whole lot at even strength. He was quality on the powerplay though, scoring a few times with his patented one time slap shot that is elite. He showed some solid offensive ability outside that, but the core of his value comes from his shot and that was on display.
Frk, as a late ’93, will be eligible to join the Griffins next year and is already signed to his entry-level deal.
Jake Paterson — Round 3, 80 overall (Saginaw, OHL), 6’2″ 183 pounds
This pick addressed an organizational need, that being lack of depth at the goaltending position.
Starter Jimmy Howard appears to be here to stay, but beyond that there wasn’t much in the tank.
Young Petr Mrazek has shown well in his first pro season with Grand Rapids after a stellar OHL career and a standout performance at the 2012 WJC with the Czech Republic, but Thomas McCollum was floundering (for what it’s worth, he seems to have righted the ship this year) and Jordan Pearce is probably going to wind up a doctor sooner than an NHL puckstopper.
In Paterson, the Wings get one of the top goaltenders in the OHL. Paterson helped the overmatched Saginaw Spirit knock off Nail Yakupov and the Sarnia Sting in the first round of the playoffs last season.
Playing on a team that doesn’t give him much help defensively, Paterson’s numbers don’t look outstanding but trust me, he’s the one keeping them in games.
I’ve seen him a few times this year and the best way to describe him is “battler.” He’s very much like Chris Osgood in that respect. I’ve chatted with him a couple times this season and he was a Wings fan growing up and idolized Ozzie. He’ll likely spend another year in Saginaw before making the jump to pro hockey.
One weakness I’ve noticed, and from talking to opposing shooters, is a bit of a suspect glove hand. No doubt that’s something Jimmy Bedard, Chris Osgood and Co. will work on with him.
Andreas Athanasiou — Round 4, 110 overall (London, OHL), 6’0″ 179 lbs
AA was drafted out of the vaunted London Knights NHL development program (or at least, they should start calling themselves that with their propensity for churning out players) but was in coach Hunter’s doghouse. A trade to Barrie before this season has given Athanasiou the change of scenery he needed and has paid dividends for his production. In talking to him, the relief was evident to get out of London.
His 43 points in 38 games are six better than the 37 he compiled in 63 with the Knights last year. He’s been playing in the Colts top-six forwards in the games I’ve seen him rather than sparingly or not at all with London.
Athanasiou’s biggest asset is his speed. He is probably among the fastest skaters in the CHL. He’s basically right up there with the Darren Helms of the world. He also has a very nice set of mitts. The knock on Athanasiou is that while he has the speed and build of a grinder, he allegedly doesn’t have the work ethic or defensive awareness for it.
That means it will be up to him to either commit to learning the defensive side of things, or developing into a scorer at the pro level. It’s up to him.
For what it’s worth, he was a projected first or second round pick before slipping to Detroit in Round 4.
Mike McKee — Round 5, 140 overall (Lincoln, USHL), 6’4″, 229 lbs
When Detroit made McKee their fourth pick in the 2012 draft, I wrote that he was breaking the mould.
He is a big, mean, rugged, physical (insert whatever defensive euphemism you want here) defender with the Lincoln Stars of the United States Hockey League. When I talked to him right after the draft this summer, he was contemplating joining Western Michigan University for the 2012-13 season but elected to stay in Lincoln one more year before joining the Broncos for the 13-14 season.
When I talked to Mike Babcock a few months ago, he said he sees Big Mike as a left winger at the professional level.
McKee is on pace to shatter the 237 PIM he amassed in 59 contests as a USHL rookie a year ago — he has 202 in just 23 games. He also has two goals and 10 points and is a +6.
The Wings will have longer to sign McKee since he is going the college route, as his contract deadline isn’t until 2016. If the Wings decide he is ready for pro hockey before then, he may leave school early as do most NHL prospects. If not, the Wings have a long-term, mean, nasty project on their hands to develop into a bruising fourth-liner no one wants to play against.
James De Haas — Round 6, 170 overall (Toronto Lakeshore, OJHL) — 6’4″ 201 lbs
You don’t often see players drafted into the NHL out of junior A hockey, but James De Haas did just that. Red Wings prospect Ryan Sproul’s running mate growing up, De Haas is a product of the fantastic GTHL hockey system.
He moved out west this season to join the powerhouse Penticton Vees of the BCHL and will move back across North America next year to play for Clarkson University.
An even longer-term project than McKee, the Wings won’t have to make a decision on De Haas until 2017. Of course, if he wows before then they’ll pull him into the pro ranks earlier.
The Wings view him developing into a safe, steady defenceman at the NHL level who can play in all roles any role (think Xavier Ouellet). Those Swiss Army knife type of defencemen are valuable in a team’s bottom-four on the backend. The Wings like his vision and puck-moving as well as his skating.
Speaking of Ouellet, here is Corey Pronman again on how the Wings draftee fared at the 2012 WJC
Ouellet was arguably Canada’s best defenseman and showed significant two-way ability. Not a ton of flash to his game, but very smart in both ends and was always making plays. His skating seems better than it was at the draft too although it’s not a strength of his game.
Rasmus Bodin — Round 7, 200 overall (Ostersunds, Sweden Division 1), 6’6″ 207 lbs
In Rasmus Bodin, the Wings did what they usually do late in the draft: take a home-run swing.
Bodin is massive at 6’6″ (the biggest player selected in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft if memory serves correctly) and has drawn comparisons to Wings forward Justin Abdelkader for his work ethic and grinding ability.
The offensive numbers aren’t there right now for Bodin playing in low-level Sweden but the Wings love his skating ability, especially for a big man.
With no deadline to sign him, the Wings will be patient with the development of the giant from Ostersund.
Check out Corey Pronman’s website as well