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Red Wings Early Season Prospects Report

A mixed bag as we peek into Detroit's future

by Arthur J. Regner @arthurjregner /

DETROIT -- While the Red Wings are determined to reverse their fortunes from last season's disappointment of not making the NHL playoffs, Detroit's hierarchy is aware the Wings need an influx of young talent to reestablish the club among the elites of the NHL.

The team added 11 draft picks in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft and currently hold nine picks in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft, which is considered a much deeper draft than 2017, so the Wings are poised to rebuild rather quickly if they are diligent and astute in acquiring talent through the draft.

It's still early in the season, but enough hockey has been played to take a glimpse at some of Detroit's current prospects to get a gauge of exactly where the Wings' retooling timeline stands.

Here's an update on several Red Wings prospects who one day could be skating for the Red and White.

*The current statistics are for games played through November 8, 2017*

Michael Rasmussen: Center, 6-foot-6, 215 pounds.

First round, ninth overall, 2017 NHL Entry Draft

Team: Tri-City Americans, Western Hockey League (WHL)

Stats: GP-12 G-7 A-8 Pts-15 PIM-12 Plus-4

The Take: Rasmussen was drafted for his maturity, size and his hand-eye-coordination, which makes him a force in front of the net. Early reports suggested he may have experienced a mental letdown when he was sent back to Tri-City after an impressive training camp for the Wings, but his numbers are good for the Americans. If he progresses like Detroit expects, Rasmussen has a legitimate shot at making the Red Wings next year as a 19-year-old.

Dennis Cholowski: Defenseman, 6-foot-1, 200 pounds.

First round, 20th overall, 2016 NHL Entry Draft

Team: Prince George Cougars, WHL

Stats: GP-15 G-5 A-9 Pts-14 PIM-4 Plus-7

The Take: Whether it's fair or not, Cholowski will forever be linked to Arizona defenseman Jakob Chychrun because of the Pavel Datsyuk trade with the Coyotes. While Chychrun was impressive as a rookie for Arizona last season, Cholowski struggled at St. Cloud State. After turning pro, Cholowski appears to have turned the corner. He added weight and muscle to his frame without sacrificing his speed or skill level; he currently leads Prince George's defense corps in goals, assists, points and plus/minus rating.

Filip Hronek: Defenseman, 6-feet, 178 pounds.

Second round, 53rd overall, 2016 NHL Entry Draft

Team: Grand Rapids Griffins, American Hockey League (AHL)

Stats: GP-9 G-1 A-4 Pts-5 PIM-10 Plus-1

The Take: Hronek was impressive during Detroit's development camp in July and Wings officials believed he would continue to play well in the prospects tournament and in training camp -- it didn't happen. He was a turnover machine and seemed to regress. A player who doesn't shy away from physical play, Hronek has rebounded so far this season for a Griffins team that has started out slowly.

Joe Hicketts: Defenseman, 5-foot-8, 180 pounds.

Free Agent signed in September of 2014

Team: Grand Rapids Griffins, AHL

Stats: GP-13 G-0 A-4 Pts-4 PIM-8 Even

The Take: Due to his small stature, Hicketts has had to prove himself at every level. He has made Canada's World Junior teams, excelled in Grand Rapids and was terrific during Detroit's training camp. A born leader, Hicketts plays both ends of the ice and his early numbers for the Griffins are all right, considering Grand Rapids has not played consistently well this season. He will get a shot in Detroit, but as one Red Wings official explained, Hicketts must excel in every aspect of his game -- he cannot afford to be very good, he must be great.

Evgeny Svechnikov: Right wing, 6-foot-3, 212 pounds.

First Round, 19th overall, 2015 NHL Entry Draft

Team: Grand Rapids Griffins, AHL

Stats: GP-8 G-2 A-0 Pts-2 PIM-11 Minus-3

The Take: Svechnikov had a fine first pro season for the Griffins last year, notching 51 points, including 20 goals, in 74 games. He was a factor in the Calder Cup playoffs with five goals among 12 points in 19 games. Svechnikov is a big, strong forward whom the Wings want to build upon his first year as a Griffin and develop a solid two-way game in hopes of becoming a true top-six forward.

Vili Saarijarvi: Defenseman, 5-foot-10, 172 pounds. 

Third Round, 73rd overall, 2015 NHL Entry Draft

Team: Grand Rapids Griffins, AHL

Toledo Walleye, ECHL

Stats: GP-3 G-0 A-1 Pts-1 PIM-2 Minus-1 (Grand Rapids)

  GP-3 G-0-A-1 Pts-1 PIM-0 Plus-1 (Toledo)

The Take: Along with Hronek, Saarijarvi was singled out for his play at July's development camp in Traverse City; and like Hronek, he took a step back at the prospects tournament and in training camp. Because of the logjam on defense in Grand Rapids, Saarijarvi is in limbo between the Griffins and the Toledo Walleye. He needs to play to develop and the Walleye offer him significant ice time in every situation imaginable.

Tyler Bertuzzi: Left wing, 6-foot-1, 190 pounds.

Second Round, 58th overall, 2013 NHL Entry Draft

Team: Grand Rapids Griffins, AHL

Stats: GP-3 G-1 A-2 Pts-3 PIM-2 Plus-1

The Take: A wrist injury during training camp derailed Detroit's plan of having Bertuzzi on the Wings' opening day roster. He recently returned to the Griffins lineup and has picked up where he left off when he was named the MVP of the Calder Cup playoffs. Bertuzzi's abrasive style translates well during the playoffs and eventually he'll be a Red Wing, but if Detroit's forwards stay healthy, it may not be this year.

Dylan Sadowy: Left Wing, 6-foot, 205 pounds.

Trade with San Jose on May 26, 2016

Team: Grand Rapids Griffins, AHL

Stats: GP-7 G-0 A-0 Pts-0 PIM-7 Minus-2

The Take: The Wings see something in Sadowy and paid a rather steep price, acquiring him from San Jose for a third-round pick. However; Sadowy has struggled to find his game at the pro level. A competitive two-way player who can agitate and score, he must elevate his game if he hopes to ever see the ice at Little Caesars Arena as a Red Wing.

Dominic Turgeon: Center, 6-foot-2, 200 pounds.

Third Round, 63rd overall, 2014 NHL Entry Draft

Team: Grand Rapids Griffins, AHL

Stats: GP-13 G-5 A-4 Pts-9 PIM-12 Plus-4

The Take: When he was drafted by the Wings, they cautioned young Dominic was not a similar player to his legendary father Pierre, who amassed over 1,300 points during his NHL career. But it appears Turgeon, who is a solid two-way player with an edge, has a little of his dad's scoring touch based on his last season in juniors and his start this year in Grand Rapids. He may never be an offensive juggernaut, but he could develop into a genuine third-line center in the NHL.

Zach Nastasiuk: Right wing, 6-foot-2, 202 pounds.

Second Round, 48th overall, 2013 NHL Entry Draft

Team: Toledo Walleye, ECHL

Stats: GP-9 G-2 A-3 Pts-5 PIM-0 Plus-3

The Take: Big things were expected from Nastasiuk when Detroit drafted him in the second round in 2013. He seemed to have the size, grit and offensive ability to be an impact player for the Wings. Yet Nastasiuk's development has been stunted. Nastasiuk has played more games in Toledo than in Grand Rapids and has a big fan in Walleye coach Dan Watson, who feels it is too early to give up on the 22-year-old. It's time for Nastasiuk to trust his game and not dwell on every on-ice mistake. If he can overcome thinking too much and just play hockey, he could still salvage an NHL career.

Givani Smith: Right Wing, 6-foot-2, 206 pounds.

Second Round, 46th overall, 2016 NHL Entry Draft

Team: Guelph Storm, Ontario Hockey League (OHL)

Stats: GP-0 G-0 A-0 Pts-0 PIM-0

The Take: Smith has not seen any action for Guelph this season due to a high ankle sprain suffered in Wings training camp, but he is expected to finally play this weekend for the Storm. An imposing figure, Smith is slated to be a physical force once he arrives in Detroit. A bruising power forward who can put the puck in the net, the Wings expect him to dominate the OHL this season and continue his development in Grand Rapids next year.

John 'Jack' Adams: Center/Right wing, 6-foot-5, 204 pounds.

Sixth Round, 162nd overall, 2017 NHL Entry Draft

Team: Union College Dutchmen

Stats: GP-10 G-1 A-4 Pts-5 PIM-6 Plus-6

The Take: On draft day, Adams didn't realize Detroit picked him because they announced John Adams instead of Jack, which he prefers to be called. Adams surprised Detroit with his deceptive speed and his nose for the net at development camp. A big body, Adams is extremely focused and after his college days are over at Union, he should be in the Wings' pipeline to eventually land in Detroit.

Zach Gallant: Center, 6-foot-2, 198 pounds.

Third Round, 83rd overall, 2017 NHL Entry Draft

Team: Peterborough Petes, OHL

Stats: GP-16 G-5-A-8 Pts-13 PIM-12 Even

The Take: After a rough first year for the Petes where he didn't score a goal and only accumulated four points in 51 games, Gallant regained his scoring touch last season by notching 20 goals and 46 points for Peterborough in 60 games. Gallant is projected as a second-line center. Detroit officials admire his wherewithal and heady play on the ice. He's off to a good start this season, which is what Detroit expected. Like most 2017 draft picks, Gallant is a few seasons away from being a contributor for the Wings.

Chase Pearson: Center, 6-foot-2, 200 pounds.

Fifth Round, 140th overall, 2015 NHL Entry Draft

Team: Maine Black Bears

Stats: GP-8 G-0 A-7 Pts-7 PIM-8 Minus-5

The Take: Pearson, Maine's captain, is a smart player with leadership abilities. His father, Scott, played in 292 games in the NHL as a journeyman, settling in Georgia when he retired. Chase grew up in Georgia and despite it not being a hockey market, he has proven to be a complete player willing to work on his game, which needs refining. He is considered a long-term project with intriguing potential.

Lane Zablocki: Center, 6-feet, 190 pounds.

Third Round, 79th overall, 2017 NHL Entry Draft

Team: Red Deer Rebels, Western Hockey League (WHL)

Stats: GP-18 G-6 A-5 Pts-11 PIM Minus-9

The Take: When you mention Zablocki in hockey circles, the reaction is either adoration or disdain. You either love his game or you hate his game. Zablocki thinks of himself in the mold of Andrew Shaw, a supreme pest who can put up points. He needs to work on his two-way game, but his sheer tenacity is a trait every NHL team needs in its lineup.

Jordan Sambrook: Defenseman, 6-foot-2, 193 pounds.

Fifth Round: 137th overall, 2016 NHL Entry Draft

Team: Erie Otters, OHL

Stats: GP-18 G-4 A-8 Pts-12 PIM-26 Plus-12

The Take: Sambrook is a talented offensive defenseman who could turn out to be a fifth-round steal for the Wings. Many pundits believed he would never last into the fifth round in his draft year. A big body who can play both ends of the ice, Sambrook's start in Erie indicates he's a player Wings fans should track with great interest.

Cole Fraser: Defenseman, 6-foot-2, 191 pounds.

Fifth Round, 131st overall, 2017 NHL Entry Draft

Team: Peterborough Petes, OHL

Stats: GP-14 G-0 A-0 Pts-0 PIM-25 Plus-1

The Take: Fraser likes to mix it up and will take on any challenge. He endeared himself to Wings fans during the prospects tournament when he fought former Detroit draft pick and tough guy Michael McKee, who had a three-inch height advantage and a 60-pound weight advantage on the 18-year-old Fraser. The fight was a draw with each player landing some solid punches. Fraser will never become a high-skill player, but he could add a wallop to the Wings someday.

Reilly Webb: Defenseman, 6-foot-3, 201 pounds.

Sixth Round, 164th overall, 2017 NHL Entry Draft

Team: Hamilton Bulldogs, OHL

Stats: GP-17 G-1 A-0 Pts-1 PIM-6 Minus-1

The Take: A second-round draft pick, 33rd overall by Hamilton in the 2015 OHL Draft, Webb has played a total of 20 games for the Bulldogs over the past two seasons. Out of the 20 games he's played, Wings officials say they scouted him in at least 12 of those games. Finally healthy after dealing with a lingering shoulder injury, Webb has played in more games this season for Hamilton than the previous seasons. He is a stay-at-home defenseman with a physical presence. After this year, Detroit will have a better grip on where Webb stands in the development process.

Kasper Kotkansalo: Defenseman, 6-foot-2, 196 pounds.

Third Round, 71st overall, 2017 NHL Draft

Team: Boston University Terriers

Stats: GP-10 G-0 A-1 Pts-1 PIM-0 Plus-2

The Take: On a deep and competitive defensive corps at Boston University, Kotkansalo has played in every game for the Terriers and while his offensive numbers are slow in coming, his plus-2 is among the best on his team. During the World Junior Summer Showcase held in Plymouth, most observers thought he was Team Finland's best all-around defenseman. A smart, skilled and confident player, Kotkansalo should make a legitimate run for a Wings roster spot once his college days are over.

Gustav Lindstrom: Defenseman, 6-foot-2, 187 pounds.

Second Round, 38th overall, 2017 NHL Draft

Team: Almtuna IS, Sweden 1st Division (Swe-1)

Stats: GP-10 G-0 A-2 Pts-2 PIM-12 Plus-4

The Take: Lindstrom started last season as Almtuna's sixth defenseman, seeing very little playing time. After a mid-season coaching change at Christmas, Lindstrom emerged as his team's top defenseman, quarterbacking the top power play unit. He is a quick study and has all the offensive tools, although he is still extremely raw. Not afraid to play a physical game, Lindstrom is a player the Wings are counting on to develop into a top-pair defenseman.

Malte Setkov: Defenseman, 6-foot-6, 192 pounds.

Fourth Round, 100th overall, 2017 NHL Entry Draft

Team: Pantern IK, (Swe-1)

Stats: GP-10 G-O A-1 Pts-1 PIM-2 Even

The Take: At first glance, Setkov looks like a string bean with a mop of hair, but his willingness to do whatever it takes to succeed on the ice made him an attractive player to the Detroit organization. Setkov's size makes him a very good defender as he utilizes his size and reach to take the puck away and steer opponents into the wall; he has also shown the ability to make an accurate first pass out of his own end. He is a raw talent and long-term project who is several years away from becoming a Red Wing.

Libor Sulak, Defenseman, 6-foot-2, 207 pounds.

Free Agent signed on May 24, 2017

Team: Lahti Pelicans, (SM-liiga)

Stats: GP-7 G-1 A-5 Pts-6 PIM-8 Minus-1

The Take: Detroit signed Sulak as a free agent after Jiri Fischer had been scouting him for over a year. A mobile and intelligent defender, Sulak is two-way player who can make plays at both ends of the ice. He is currently playing in Finland's Elite league and he appears to be a low-risk, high-reward signing. If he makes it to Detroit, he's projected as a bottom-three defenseman with some skill and good on-ice presence.

Filip Larsson, Goalie, 6-foot-2, 187 pounds.

Sixth Round, 167th overall, 2016 NHL Entry Draft

Team: Tri-City Storm, United States Hockey League (USHL)

Stats: GP-8 W-7 L-1 T-O SO-1 GAA-1.64 Save percentage .941

The Take: Larsson could be the Red Wings' diamond in the rough. At the World Junior Summer Showcase, he was Team Sweden's third goalie, but by the Showcase's conclusion he was the Swedes' number one goalie and was the starter in net against hated rival Finland. An athletic goalie with an oddball sense of humor, Larsson is always at an even keel. He has already been named the USHL's Player of the Week this season. Larsson plans on playing college hockey next season and several colleges, including Michigan, are in the mix for his services.

Chase Perry, Goalie, 6-foot-3, 195 pounds.

Fifth Round, 136th overall, 2014 NHL Entry Draft

Team: RPI Engineers

Stats: GP-6 W-0 L-4 T-2 SO-0 GAA-2.82 Save percentage .917

The Take: Perry is a big, athletic goalie who moves from side-to-side extremely well. He has started six of nine games this season for an RPI team which is still trying to put it together. Perry covers a lot of net due to his size, but his determination and skill level to never quit on a play even when he's facing a barrage of shots makes him stand above the competition. Perry will get a long look from the Red Wings.

Keith Petruzzelli, Goalie, 6-foot-6, 185 pounds.

Third Round, 88th overall, 2017 NHL Entry Draft

Team: Quinnipiac University Bobcats

Stats: GP-2 W-1 L-1 T-0 SO-0 GAA-3.38 Save Percentage .907

The Take: Speculation is Petruzzelli will ultimately be the Red Wings goalie of the future. He is extremely tall and once he fills out, he should be the behemoth and highly skilled netminder that NHL teams covet. After a terrific campaign for the USHL's Muskegon Lumberjacks last season, Petruzzelli's transition to the college game has been somewhat shaky at Quinnipiac. Although he is raw and must refine his game, Petruzzelli is an elite talent with exceptional puck handling and passing abilities. He may be a few years away from his Detroit debut, but his unlimited potential has the Wings brass eagerly awaiting his arrival.

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