This monthly feature is a little late getting out, but here is the second installment of Monthly Checkup, a look at how the most recent Red Wings draft class is doing so far this year! Here’s a link to the first installment as well, to see how they’ve progressed in the last month.
Detroit’s 7th round choice, Alexei Marchenko will be on the sidelines until April or May, after having surgery following a serious knee injury earlier in the year. A big disappointment for a player who was likely to captain the Russian World Junior team this year in Alberta. The Wings were able to grab him late in the draft due to the “Russian factor”, but they feel he will be a player who will come over to North America and play in the NHL at some point.
In the sixth round, Detroit grabbed a player who doesn’t fit their conventional mold for defensemen in 6’4″, 204 lb Richard Nedomlel. Nedomlel is a bruiser who will scrap with anyone, any time. If you have a couple minutes to spare, YouTube some of his fights. He can chuck knucks.
Last year, all he really did was fight. It was his first season in the WHL after coming over from the Czech Republic, and he registered just 10 assists in 66 games to go along with 107 PIM. He found his offensive touch early this year, and was on a point per game pace through the season’s first 11 games. Since then, the offense has dried up, and he currently has three goals and 12 assists in 34 games. He also has 43 PIM. Nedomlel is a long term project for the Wings, but a player whose raw size and strength make him a very interesting prospect.
Nedomlel is one of 11 defensemen named to the Czech’s World Junior camp, and I would consider it a very big accomplishment if he wound up making the team.
Detroit took two players in the fifth round of the 2011 draft. Mattias Backman, unlike Nedomlel, is exactly what the Wings have made a habit of drafting. He is playing for Linkoping of the Swedish Elite League, and is regarded as a smooth two-way defender.
Backman has played in 26 of 27 games for the SEL’s 5th placed team, registering 6 points and a healthy +5 while playing better than 15 minutes a night.
Sweden has already announced the roster they will be taking to the World Juniors, and Backman made the team. He should play big minutes with that squad.
Also selected in the fifth round was Philippe Hudon, out of Choate-Rosemary prep school. Hudon was goingto play at Cornell University, but there has been a change of plans.
Hudon struggled to deal with balancing academics and athletics, and wound up taking a leave of absence from Cornell. He was diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder in November, and dropped out of school.
He decided to go the QMJHL route, and has recorded one assist through his first four games with the Victoriaville Tigres, who are the second-highest scoring team in the Q, behind only the Saint John’s SeaDogs.
Don’t take his inability to balance school and hockey as a knock on him as a person or a hockey player. He is a highly regarded prospect and the Wings were lucky to get him so late in the draft. Hopefully without the pressures of attending an Ivy League school, he will be able to be a dominant hockey player. He compares his style of play to that of Milan Lucic, and he reminds me a bit of a Justin Abdelkader type of player. Keep an eye on him, he could fly under the radar and wind up in the NHL.
Detroit’s fourth round pick is big Marek Tvrdon, who at 6′ 2″ 210 is a player whose size makes him difficult to play against and whose soft hands remind me of a Johan Franzen or Todd Bertuzzi.
Tvrdon would have easily been a first or second round pick had he not sustained a serious shoulder injury that limited him to 12 games last year. Now healthy, the Nitra, Slovakia native is tearing up the WHL to the tune of 37 points in 32 games for the Vancouver Giants.
Tvrdon is T-17th in WHL scoring, and since he only played 12 games last year is still considered a rookie. He is first in rookie scoring, and has been named to the 35-man preliminary roster for Slovakia’s World Junior team. He should make the team and be a huge contributor, as the Slovakian forward corps is likely to feature a ton of players who are ’12 and ’13 NHL draft eligible.
All Detroit’s third round pick, Alan Quine, has been able to do this season is lead the Peterborough Petes in scoring with 33 points in 32 games. Quine has benefited greatly from playing on the Petes top line with ’11 first round Matt Puempel (OTT) and ’10 first rounder Austin Watson (NSH).
He still has a long way to go to becoming a complete hockey player, but he is on the right track.
In the second round, the Wings came away with a trio of players who easily could have been first rounders.
Ryan Sproul is a player I wanted the Wings to take at 48th overall with a pick they acquired from Chicago. Instead, they were able to snag him seven picks later at 55.
Sproul recently represented the OHL in the annual Subway Super Series against the top Russian prospects in the world, and was named an assistant captain on that team.
Sproul is a force offensively, using his 6’4″ frame to really lean into his shot from the blue line. He has eight goals and 24 points through 33 games for the Soo Greyhounds, who are pretty poor offensively. Sproul’s 24 points are good for 5th among all OHL defensemen, and he has rebounded from a -15 2010-11 season to post +17 so far this year, which is again impressive given how bad the Greyhounds are at keeping the puck out of their own net. He leads the team in that category.
The Wings took another defender with the 48th overall pick, Xavier Ouellet, who was named the captain of the newly relocated Blainville-Broisbriand Armada prior to the start of this season.
Ouellet is another solid, two-way player. Like Sproul, he represented Canada in the Subway Super Series for the QMJHL team. Ouellet has 21 points in 30 games, leading the team to first place in the weak West division.
Ouellet is T-1st in defense scoring on the Armada and Ouellet’s 21 points are good for T-3rd on the team in scoring. He has developed a physical element to his game as a result of his new role as team leader, dropping the gloves at the defense of his teammates.
The Wings first pick of the 2011 draft class is the most exciting in terms of sheer skill and highlight reel ability. YouTubing clips of Tomas Jurco will never get boring, the kid is that good with the puck.
He is playing on the best team in the QMJHL, the Saint John SeaDogs, Jurco is third on the team in points despite missing the first seven games with an injury sustained in the Red Wings camp. He has 21 goals among 45 points and a +28. Jurco loves to shoot the puck, and has over 110 shots on the season thus far.
Jurco was taken 35th overall in a pick the Wings acquired from the Senators. Jurco was projected to go between 15-30, so getting him that late was very fortunate.
He might have the best hands in the entire 2011 draft class, and plays a good all around game to boot. I am very excited to watch him in the World Juniors this year with Slovakia.
So there you have it, the up-to-date look at the Wings 2011 draftees. A lot of players to be excited about there. Who are you most looking forward to seeing in a Wings jersey? Will you be tracking their progress with me at the World Juniors this holiday season? Without a doubt, it is my favorite tournament of the year, and I highly recommend it to any true hockey fan.