While only one member of the Detroit Red Wings’ 2011 draft class has turned professional, nearly all nine players selected have continued to show improvement at their respective levels in the past year.
The 2011 draft class is led by winger Tomas Jurco, who was selected in the second round, 35th overall. Jurco had an outstanding career with the QMJHL’s Saint John Sea Dogs and this season is playing in the AHL for the Grand Rapids Griffins. Well-regarded for his stickhandling, he has shown flashes of brilliance in the AHL, with a goal and two assists through 13 games. As the Wings don’t like to rush their prospects, expect to see him in Grand Rapids for a couple seasons unless he catches fire at some point.
Defenseman Xavier Ouellet was also selected in the second round, 48th overall. Last season saw him have his best QMJHL season yet after switching from the Montreal Juniors to the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada. His 21 goals and 60 points placed him second on the team in scoring, and this season he has 22 points through 21 games. He should be headed to Grand Rapids following the end of his junior career.
The Wings’ third selection of the second round, 55th overall, was defenseman Ryan Sproul. He has shown consistent improvement in each of his previous two OHL season with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, last season putting up 54 points. He has a goal and nine points in seven games this season and is currently out with a broken arm. He recovered quickly from a broken jaw last season and is well-regarded as a solid, puck-moving defenseman. Depending on the Wings’ input, he could either turn pro after this season or head back for a fourth year in the OHL.
Alan Quine was selected by the Wings in the third round, 85th overall. He missed a handful of games to start this season, battling mono and a swollen spleen. Quine scored 70 points for the Peterborough Petes last season and got a brief AHL look with the Griffins. He is likely headed to the AHL next season.
In the fourth round Detroit selected Vancouver Giants winger Marek Tvrdon with the 115th pick overall. He had a very impressive 2011-12 campaign, scoring 31 goals and adding 43 assists and looks poised for another strong season. Through 18 games with the Giants this season, he had eight goals and 22 points.
The fifth round found the Wings with back-to-back picks, and they chose winger Philippe Hudon of the QMJHL’s Victoriaville Tigres 145th overall, and Mattias Backman from Sweden with the 146th pick. Hudon has four goals and four assists for the Tigres this season, already better than what he was able to put up in almost twice as many games last season. Backman remains in the Swedish Elite League with Linkoping HC. It will be at least a couple seasons before we see either of these prospects move up.
Sixth round pick Richard Nedomlel is a physical defenseman who has found a scoring touch to go with his game. He scored a surprising 10 goals with the WHL’s Swift Current Broncos last season, and has 10 assists in 23 games this season. He’ll likely spend another year in junior, then head to Grand Rapids where he is sure to be a fan favorite.
Finally, the Wings selected Russian defenseman Alexei Marchenko in the seventh round, 205th overall. Now in his fourth season with CSKA Moscow, he should be gaining valuable experience on a lockout-bolstered team that features fellow Red Wing Pavel Datsyuk, goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov, as well as NHLers Alexander Radulov and Mikhail Grabovski.