“That was…the worst experience of my life”
Those are the words of Red Wings prospect Ryan Sproul, on the broken jaw he suffered December 28 during a game against the Sarnia Sting.
Sproul had a plate surgically inserted into his jaw. The typical recovery time for broken jaws is in the neighbourhood of 6-8 weeks.
Sproul missed less than three weeks. Today, he played his third straight game and registered an assist in a 3-2 loss to the Windsor Spitfires.
“I feel alright, back to normal pretty much now. Obviously still wearing a cage, but a lot better than I was a couple weeks ago,” said Sproul. “I had never broken anything, so to be in surgery…to be home from the team for two or three weeks, it was pretty hard.”
As Sproul works his way back, Soo Greyhounds coach Mike Stapleton is being sure to use Sproul in situations that play to his strengths. Namely, providing offense for his team. Sproul was mostly on the ice for offensive zone face-offs and power plays.
“I think he’s doing that for obvious reasons, because I’m not fully ready yet, but hopefully by next week I’ll be ready to go,” said Sproul.
The 6’4″, 186 pound Sproul has 10 goals and 27 points in 40 games played for the Greyhounds this year.
As for the rest of the Wings 2011 draft class, Alexei Marchenko remains sidelined with a knee injury that will keep him out at least another couple of months.
Big Richard Nedomlel started the season on fire, putting up 13 points in as many games. Last year, Nedomlel only registerd 10 points all season. Nedomlel has come back to earth a lot since that torrid start, but he currently has 25 points in 47 games which is a huge improvement over last season. Nedomlel is a really long shot to ever play in the NHL but he is an intriguing prospect because of his size (6’4″, 202) and fighting ability.
Mattias Backman, in addition to winning gold medal and playing a very important role with Sweden at the World Juniors in Alberta, has played 30 games for Linkoping of the Elitserien, the top league in Sweden.
Philippe Hudon, who I think of as a player in the mold of a Justin Abdelkader, dropped out of Cornell University after being diagnosed with OCD. He joined the Victoriaville Tigres of the QMJHL and has 3 goals and 4 points in 18 games. The Tigres have the third most points in the QMJHL, behind only defending league champion Saint John’s and Memorial Cup host Shawinigan. Victoriaville is an offensive powerhouse (they have 17 more goals than the next closest team), which will allow Hudon time to get his legs underneath him after not playing until late December.
Marek Tvrdon, after a WJC that saw him lead Slovakia in goal scoring, picked up right where he left off with the Western Hockey League’s Vancouver Giants. Tvrdon has been playing at better than a point per game pace since returning to the Giants, and has 17 goals and 48 points in 40 games this year.
Alan Quine was Detroit’s third round pick out of Peterborough of the Ontario Hockey League. Last year, the undersized Quine put up 42 points in 52 games with the Petes after a trade from Kingston. This year, Quine has 43 points in 42 games playing on Peterborough’s top line. However, his two normal linemates are no longer with him.
Matt Puempel, his frequent left winger, has been sidelined since January 5 with a concussion. The third member of that line, Austin Watson, was traded to the London Knights at the trade deadline. It will be interesting to see if Quine can keep up his production minus two very talented linemates.
Xavier Ouellet, the first of two defensemen taken in the second round by Detroit in 2011 (the second being Sproul) has been thriving as the captain of the brand-new Blainville-Boisbriand Armada. The Armada moved after three seasons as the Montreal Juniors, and Ouellet was named the first captain in franchise history. He has scored 15 goals and 36 points for the Armada in just 41 games. He also represented the QMJHL in the Subway SuperSeries.
Finally, Tomas Jurco. His play is one of the biggest reasons why the Saint John’s SeaDogs are in first place in the QMJHL and favorites to repeat as Memorial Cup champions.
Third overall pick Jonathan Huberdeau has missed all but 17 games this season with a myriad of injuries, but Jurco and Wild draftee Zack Phillips have been excellent. Jurco has 49 points in just 33 games.
The Kosice, Slovakia native led his country in points at the WJC, despite missing a good chunk of time with a hip flexor injury.
Jurco was also hobbled by the same injury in Red Wings training camp, but it clearly hasn’t hurt his production. With second-place Shawinigan already earning a berth in the Memorial Cup due to the fact that they are the host, Jurco and the rest of the SeaDogs have to be considered heavy favorites represent the Q again this season.