Despite no Red Wings, Stanley Cup Playoffs feature plenty of Michigan-made talent

For the first time since 1990, the Detroit Red Wings aren’t participating in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. However, plenty of us are still watching to see who brings home the greatest trophy in all of sports.

Among the eight remaining teams still playing, there are several Michigan connections – players who are originally from, went to school, and or played here before (and after) reaching the NHL. Let’s take a look at who is connected to the Mitten.


Photo Credit: Pain Gretzky/Flickr
  • Cam Fowler is originally from Ontario, but moved with his family to Farmington Hills when he was a toddler due to his father’s job with the Ford Motor Company. He attended Farmington High School and was also recruited by the USA Hockey National Team Development Program which based in Ann Arbor at the time (currently in Plymouth). Before turning pro, he also played for Detroit HoneyBaked. He made his NHL debut in October of 2010 against the Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena.
  • Ryan Kesler was born in Livonia and spent his early years playing minor hockey for Detroit teams such as Compuware, HoneyBaked, and Little Caesars of the MWEHL. He looked up to fellow Livonia native Mike Modano as a role model. He and his family return to Livonia during the offseason.
  • Andrew Cogliano is a Toronto native, but spent his collegiate years at the University of Michigan. In 2006-07, Cogliano was third on the Wolverines with 50 points in 38 games.
  • Patrick Eaves is a former Detroit Red Wings forward, having played in Detroit from 2009 to 2013 when he was dealt to Nashville for Grosse Pointe native David Legwand.


  • Jordan Oesterle was born in Dearborn Heights and played collegiate hockey with the Western Michigan Broncos from 2010 to 2014. He was teammates with current Red Wings defenseman Danny DeKeyser.
  • Mark Letestu attended Western Michigan University during the 2006-07 season, and scored 24 goals in 37 games.
  • Todd McLellan served as assistant coach of the Red Wings under Mike Babcock from 2005 to 2008. After he helped Detroit to the 2008 Stanley Cup championship, he was named the head coach of the San Jose Sharks. He became the Oilers head coach in 2015.
  • Jujhar Khaira attended Michigan Tech during the 2012-13 season and scored six goals in 37 games for the Huskies.


  • Mackenzie MacEachern was born in Troy, and attended Brother Rice High School in Bloomfield Hills before heading to Michigan State from 2013 to 2016. He’s currently in the Blues minor league system.
  • Justin Selman attended the University of Michigan from 2012 to 2016. He’s also currently in the Blues minor league system.


  • Austin Watson was born in Ann Arbor and attended Detroit Catholic Central High School and Father Gabriel Richard High School before being drafted into the OHL. Before that, he played with the Detroit Compuware Ambassadors at Compuware Arena (now named USA Hockey Arena) in Plymouth.


  • Pheonix Copley attended Michigan Tech from 2012 to 2014, and was MVP of the 2012 Great Lakes Invitational at Joe Louis Arena with back-to-back shutouts. He’s in the Capitals minor league system.


  • Chris Kunitz played at Ferris State University from 1999 to 2003, and was named a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award during his senior season.
  • Carl Hagelin played for the University of Michigan from 2007 to 2011, and was the first Swedish born player to play for the Wolverines. As a senior in 2010-11, Hagelin won the CCHA Best Defensive Forward Award and was named to the All-CCHA First Team.
  • Ian Cole was born in Ann Arbor. He played USA Hockey National Team Development Program in Ann Arbor from 2005 to 2007.
  • Kevin Porter was born in Northville and played for the University of Michigan from 2004 to 2008. During his time with the Wolverines, he was named to the CCHA First All-Star Team, CCHA Player of the Year and the NCAA West First All-American Team, winning the Hobey Baker Award. He also played for the Grand Rapids Griffins during the 2014-15 season after having been signed by the Red Wings to a two-way contract.
  • Bryan Rust was born in Pontiac and grew up in Troy. From 2008 to 2010, he played for the USA Hockey National Team Development Program in Ann Arbor. He also attended Brother Rice High School in Bloomfield Hills for a brief time.


NHL: Detroit Red Wings at Minnesota Wild
Feb 12, 2017; Saint Paul, MN, USA; Detroit Red Wings defenseman Brendan Smith (2) during a game between the Minnesota Wild and Detroit Red Wings at Xcel Energy Center. The Wild defeated the Red Wings 6-3. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
  • Brendan Smith played for the Red Wings from 2012 to 2017. He was traded to the Rangers at the 2017 NHL Trade Deadline.
  • Steven Kampfer was born in Ann Arbor and grew up in Jackson. He attended the University of Michigan from 2006 to 2010.

Written by Michael Whitaker

Always at the front lines of Detroit Sports.

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