After essentially stealing slovakian winger Tomas Jurco with the 35th overall pick in this year’s NHL Entry Draft, the Detroit Red Wings went on to have a successful 8 picks, adding 3 more forwards, and 5 defenseman. The Wings’ management knew they needed to get bigger on the back end, and they did just that by drafting a fistful of big blue liners.
They didn’t just go out and draft a bunch of big bodies though. These players all have good upside, whether it’s contributing offensively, being a shut down guy, or being an ideal all around defenseman. In addition to the defenseman, the Wings added some quality forwards, who could end up being dark horse picks of this draft.
Xavier Ouellet- Defenseman: Selected 48th overall, Ouelett plays for Montreal in the QMJHL. The Bayonne, France native stands at 6’0, and weighs in at 175 pounds. He contributed eight goals and 35 assists for 43 points in 67 games last season.
According to Red Wings’ assistant GM Jim Nill, Ouellet is a “Good puck moving defenseman, with above average hockey sense, solid positioning, and is a good competitor.” His weaknesses are “His foot speed, and limited physical capabilities.”
It is believed that some bulking up would help him use his body more. Ouellet is a good all around defenseman, and has the potential to quarterback an NHL power play in the future.
Ryan Sproul- Defenseman: Selected 55th overall, Sproul plays for the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds in the OHL. A native of Mississauga, Ontario, Sproul stands at 6’3, and weighs in at 175 pounds. He scored 14 goals and 19 assists for 33 points in 61 games played last season, scoring 10 of his 14 goals in the second half of the season.
According to TSN, Sproul has a “Good shot, has good vision, and has the ability to find open lanes”. Much like Ouelett, his weaknesses include, “Improvement in his foot speed, and physical presence. His decision making needs work as well.” Sproul is a raw prospect, but could end up being an asset on an NHL power play if he develops correctly.
Alan Quine- Center: Selected 85th overall, Quine plays for Peterborough of the OHL. The Belleville, Ontario native split time last season with Kingston and Peterborough, finishing with 26 goals and 27 assists for 53 points in 69 games. He stands at 5’11, and weighs in at 184 pounds, so he already has decent size for a player of his age.
According to Joe McDonnell, Red Wings’ director of scouting, Quine “Has a really good skill set, he’s a good skater, and he competes hard.” Quine also finished with a 62.5 percent efficiency rating in faceoffs with Canada during the U-18 tournament.
McDonnell goes on to say that ” His offensive abilities are a wait-and-see kind of thing.” As of right now, Quine projects to be a Darren Helm type of player, with potentially untapped offensive flare.
Marek Tvrdon- Left Wing: Selected 115th overall, Tvrdon could be the dark horse forward of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. The Slovakia native plays for the Vancouver Giants in the WHL, and he stands at an impresive 6’2, and 212 pounds.
Tvrdon was touted as at least a second round talent, probably even first round, but a season ending shoulder injury cut his season to just 12 games. In those 12 games, he scored six goals and five assists for a total of 11 points. Due to his injury, barely any scouts saw him play prior to the draft, so the Wings may have gotten a steal here.
In 2009-10, he scored 56 points in 45 games in the U-20 league in Slovakia. Red Wings scout Jeff Finley had this to say about Tvrdon: “He’s a similar player to Tomas Jurco to be honest. He’s really skilled, and is a very good skater for his size.”
Obviously the only downside with him is the injury. Tvrdon says he’s back to 100 percent healthy, so he should be in line for a solid season. If he can come back in right where he left off, he will be a high end prospect for this organization.
Philippe Hudon- Center/Right Wing: Selected 145th overall, Hudon played for Choate Rosemary-Hall prep school last year, scoring 10 goals and 10 assists for 20 points. He stands at 6’0, and weighs in at 197 pounds. So he, along with Quine and Tvrdon, already has good size for someone his age.
Hudon will be playing for Cornell next season, and Red Wings scout Mark Leach had this to say about him: “He’s a really competitive kid who can really shoot the puck. He’s willing to score the dirty goals, and play a physical game. I would project him as a third or fourth line guy so far.”
Hudon’s shot was what got him noticed however, so he may surprise the Red Wings, and evolve into more of an offensive threat. The NCAA will be a lot more tough than prep school, so Hudon will really have to strut his stuff next season to keep progressing.
Mattias Backman- Defenseman: Selected 146th overall, Backman played for Linkoping in Sweden’s U-20 league last season, where he registered two goals and 18 assists for 20 points in 27 games. He is expected to be playing for Linkoping in the Swedish Elite League next year. Backman stands at 6’3, but weighs in at only 170 pounds right now.
Hakan Andersson, the Red Wings’ director of European scouting had this to say about him: “He’s very mobile, he thinks the game well, he keeps the game simple, he makes a very good first pass, and he can skate the puck out of trouble.” His obvious weakness is he dire need to fill out his frame.
He is still young though, and he could be a monster if he adds strength to his 6’3 frame. Andersson also says “All of the other tools are there”, so Backman has really good chance to make it in the NHL.
Richard Nedomlel- Defenseman: Selected 175th overall, Nedomlel spent last season playing for Swift Current in the WHL, where he scored zero goals and 10 assists in 66 games. Nedomlel is not going to put up many points, nor is he going to wow you with dazzling skills. His prowess comes from his grit.
Nedomlel is already huge, at 6’4 and 205 pounds, and is as tough as nails. He racked up 107 penalty minutes in just 66 games with Swift Current, and had seven fighting majors. According to Redwingscentral.com, regarding his fights, “He is usually standing up for a teammate, and he doesn’t lose fights.”
This selection is somewhat breaking the Red Wings mold, as Detroit always goes for skill over size, but as previously mentioned, they knew they needed to get bigger on the back end, and Nedomlel will probably help.
Alexei Marchenko- Defenseman: Selected 205th overall, Marchenko spent last season playing for CSKA Moscow in the KHL. Marchenko stands at 6’2, and weighs in at about 185 pounds, so like most prospects he will need time to grow into his frame. Marchenko was passed over in the 2010 draft due to health problems. He had to have his spleen removed, and questions were raised about whether he could play hockey anymore. As it turns out, he can. He is now 100 percent healthy.
In Russia’s junior league, he scored 38 points in 36 games, and in 23 KHL games, he scored two assists. Red Wings Russian scout Nikolai Vakourov had this to say about him: “He’s not very offensive, but he’s smart moving the puck. He can play the power play, and in general he has good tools to play in the NHL one day.”
An added bonus with Marchenko, is that he has stated he wants to be in North America after he finishes playing out his contract in Russia. So the normal worries about not being able to convince him to join the team, are already quelled.