ESPN compiled their annual list of the top 100 NHL prospects throughout the league, and there are six familiar faces among the ranks for Detroit Red Wings fans.
After being ranked 99th a year ago Dylan Larkin, Detroit’s first-round pick in 2014, now sits at 10th in the list of 100. In that time he was named Big Ten Freshman of the Year for Michigan, played in the World Championships, and finished up the AHL postseason with the Grand Rapids Griffins where he accrued 3 goals and 2 assists in 6 games. He’s made a huge name for himself in just a year’s time and has jettisoned up to the top of the prospect depth chart in Detroit’s system. He’ll spend next season full-time with the Griffins.
The Red Wings’ 2015 first-round pick in Evgeny Svechnikov is slated at 21st on the list. Having not been drafted last season, he was not ranked, so he’s debuting fairly high. Last year he played for the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles, who he’s to return to this coming season. Last year he racked up 32 goals and 78 points in 55 games.
Forward Axel Holmstrom was next for the Red Wings’ prospects at 33rd. Holmstrom was drafted in the seventh round of the 2014 Entry Draft, at 196th overall. He was named Sweden’s Junior Player of the Year last season playing for Skellefteå AIK, where he put up 10 goals and 20 points in 44 games.
Small-man defender Joe Hicketts rolled in at 53rd on the list, which could be considered the most impressive of the lot. Hicketts was not drafted, but earned himself an entry-level deal with the Red Wings after an impressive outing at the development camp and prospects tournament last year. He played last season with the Victoria Royals of the WHL, where he put up 12 goals and 52 assists in 62 games. He’s expected to play with the Griffins this coming season.
Probably the least surprising name on the list is Anthony Mantha, who fell from 33rd last year to 70th this year, after an underwhelming and injury-shortened season with Grand Rapids. During the development camp and prospects tournament last year, Mantha broke his leg and was sidelined for roughly two months, after being predicted to compete for a roster spot with the Red Wings. After his return, he spent a lot of the season adjusting to the AHL and getting his game back from being injured. He finished the regular season with 15 goals and 18 assists in 62 games played. With a lot of eyes turned to Larkin for the coming year, some pressure may be taken off of Mantha to perform and he can relax and play his own game. Only time will tell.
The final Red Wing prospect on the list is Xavier Ouellet at 99th. Ouellet was drafted in the second round, 48th overall, in 2011 by Detroit, and has spent 25 games with the Red Wings over the span of the last two seasons. He put up 2 goals and 3 points with Detroit last season in 21 games, and is expected to compete for a roster spot this coming season.
Needless to say, the future looks bright in Detroit with players like these and a handful more in the development pipeline.