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Wings happy with draft class

by Bill Roose / Detroit Red Wings

PITTSBURGH – The Red Wings believe that they found another talented young prospect that fell into their grasp late in the second round of Saturday’s final day of the 2012 NHL draft at Consol Energy Center.

The Wings used the No. 49 overall pick to take Czechoslovakian forward Martin Frk, who has played the last two seasons in Halifax of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

Jiri Fischer, the Wings’ director of player development, has seen plenty of the 6-foot left-handed shooting forward. Fischer has been an assistant coach on the Czech national team that Frk has been a part of in three World Junior Championships.

“Every time he steps onto the ice he wants to be the best player,” Fischer said. “He wants to make a difference, he wants the puck, he's got good scoring ability, he can finish, he works, he's relentless, he forechecks, he's going to have to work on his top speed, the NHL is getting every year faster and faster through the neutral zone. He's got the mentality of wanting to be great.”

Since arriving in North America two years ago, Frk has produced 38 goals and 41 assists in 96 games for the Mooseheads. However, he missed 29 games last season – and the 2012 World Juniors in Alberta – following a concussion that he sustained in a preseason game, which may explain the drop in his draft stock.

The 18-year-old was rated No. 20 in the final NHL Central Scouting rankings.

“I had a concussion for four months,” Frk said. “It happened in preseason game so I’m now good, no headaches anymore. … I did spin-o-rama and went on my back-hand shot and the guy hit me right in the head, I didn’t see him at all.”

Martin Frk

The incident was scary, Frk said, though he wasn’t just concerned for his health, but for his position in the draft.

“I think it send me down in the draft, my injury, and I didn’t go to World Juniors, so it’s hockey,” said Frk, who grew-up idolizing Jaromir Jagr. “But I’m happy that I can be here and drafted in the second round.”

Frk exploded in the second half of the QMJHL season, scoring 10 goals with 17 assists in the final 24 games.

“You aim to play good and all of the scouts come to see you, so it’s hockey, it can happen to anybody,” Frk said. “I just take it easy and make sure that I was ready for the other half of the season and the playoffs.”

Frk will return for his third and final junior season in Halifax next season where he will again skate on a line with slick playmaking Nathan MacKinnon, who is projected to be the NHL’s top overall pick at next June’s draft in New Jersey.

“I hope he goes first overall (next season) that would be great for the Mooseheads,” Frk said. “I’m happy that I can play on the same line with him and I know how he can take the puck and deke four guys, so he’s a good hockey player.”

Jake Paterson

If he can remain injury-free, there’s no question that a 30-goal season can be in-store, Frk said.

“I’m expecting to go to the Memorial Cup with the team because we have a great, young team with a lot of 95s who are very good guys,” he said. “I want to score around 30 goals. I don’t need to have the pretty goals where you deke a guy one-on-one. I can take a rebound or something like that.”

Besides Frk, the Wings also selected a pair of OHL players with their next two picks, acquiring Saginaw goalie Jake Paterson in the third round (80th overall) and London forward Andreas Athanasiou in the fourth round (110th overall). In the fifth round, Detroit chose its first defenseman of the day, selecting Lincoln (USHL) blue-liner Mike McKee 140th overall. McKee is committed to Western Michigan University for the 2012-13 NCAA season.

The Wings wrapped up their 2012 entry draft by selecting Toronto (OJHL) rearguard James de Haas in the sixth round (170th overall) and Östersunds IK (SWE J20, Div I) center Rasmus Bodin in the seventh (200th overall).

Several players selected by Detroit today will take part in the team’s Summer Development Camp, scheduled to take place from July 7-13 in Traverse City at Centre Ice Arena.

Andreas Athanasiou

Here is what assistant general manager Jim Nill had to say about the Wings’ draft class of 2012:

MARTIN FRK, RW, 2nd ROUND, No. 49: “We're excited about him, he's one of Czech's top players. He had a tough year last year with injuries but as an underage he was one of their top players in World Juniors in Buffalo. Last year he was injured and didn't play in world juniors. Heavy body, very competitive, he's got some good skills.”

JAKE PATERSON, G, 3rd ROUND, No. 80: “We saw him a lot in Saginaw. He had a tough first half of the season, the second half he was outstanding and in the playoffs he was probably their MVP. We like him, he's a competitive goalie. … Chris (Osgood) saw him play a lot. Every draft you want to get a goalie if you can. It's not a high, high pick getting him, which was good. It was the right spot for him.”

ANDREAS ATHANASIOU, C/LW, 4th ROUND, No. 110: “Another highly thought of kid coming into the season. Played well at Memorial Cup. Great skater, great speed, so we're excited about his upside. Starting the season he was a high (projected) pick. He played very well for Canada at the under-18s. I think he's disappointed where he was picked but he's happy now. It doesn't matter where you're picked, it's the final product that's going to count. He had an in-and-out season with London, they had a very good team, he was in and out of the lineup a few times, a little bit maturity, he's a young kid, he wanted to play more, the Hunters are very demanding. They do a good job with him.”

Michael McKee

MICHAEL McKEE, D, 5th ROUND, No. 140: “Played in Lincoln (Neb.) last year, going to Western Michigan. Big, strong, tough kid, 6-4, 230, great size, he's tough, he's going to a great program, Andy Murray will do a good job grooming. We've talked a little about what we need to add of his element and that's part of the process”

JAMES de HAAS, D, 6th ROUND, No. 170: “He's a defenseman, 6-2, got good range, skates well, he'll play in Penticton BC junior for one season and then he'll go to college after that at Clarkson (Unviersity).”'

RASMUS BODIN, C, 7th ROUND, No. 200: “Good size, 6-4, 6-5, something like that. Big kid, got some skill. Needs to work on his development. He's a good pick to roll the dice on. We seen him quite a bit. When you get to the sixth, seventh round we were looking for someone with that dimension. Either a high skilled guy or a big guy who's got some tools to work with. He's got the dimension we like.”

Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @Bill_Roose

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