While we're in Development camp mode, I wanted to dive a little deeper and look at five Wing prospects that have great potential to either play in Detroit or Grand Rapids this season. The future is bright for the Wings and I wouldn't be surprised if the Griffins went for a repeat next year.
With Nyquist, Tatar, Andersson and DeKeyser likely making the jump to full time duty next year there isn't much room in Motown for the new guys, but Grand Rapids is certainly looking for replacements. Without further ado, lets look at some of these guys.
1) Andreas Athanasiou 6'0 165lbs LW: I've talked about this guy in both of my pervious development blogs and I'm excited to see him continue to develop. He had 67 points in 65 games this year for the Barrie Colts after recording just 37 points for the Knights a year ago. It's worth noting that he notched 25 playoff points in 22 games this year as well. He's also an incredibly fast skater, although he could put on 15 more pounds of muscle before he makes it to the big leagues. He might stick around Barrie for another year but personally I think he's ready to jump into Grand Rapids.
2) Calle Jarnkrok 5'11 170lbs C: If anyone has a chance to make the Wings out of camp, it's Jarnkrok. After four years playing in the Swedish Elite League, Jarnkrok is more than ready to begin his career in America. He notched 42 points in 53 games last season and he doesn't just bring offence, he's a very good two way player and great in the faceoff circle. He also plays hard and works hard and that stuff doesn't show up on the scoresheet. He's been compared to Zetterberg, and could form a dynamic partnership with Nyquist and Tatar in the years to come.
3) Thomas Jurco 6'2 193lbs RW: I was extremely excited when the Wings picked up Jurco in the second round in 2011 and I think he'll turn into a top six player in a few years. He lit up QMJHL with St. Johns and made the jump to Grand Rapids last year. While he started off slow, he came on strong near the end of the season and ended up with 28 points in 74 games for the Griffins. Those numbers don't jump out at you, but he cranked it up to 11 in the AHL playoffs scoring 14 points in 24 games on route to a Calder Cup. I expect a strong season for Jurco in Grand Rapids next year, it wouldn't be a stretch to think he could crack 45+ points and press for occasional injury call up in Detroit.
4) Ryan Sproul 6'4 175lbs D: Another second round steal. Sproul is big. And he plays big. He destroyed the OHL by notching 66 points in 50 games for the Greyhounds. He'll be patrolling the blueline in Grand Rapids next year after winning the Max Kaminsky Award for the OHL's Most Outstanding Defenseman last year. He also won the 2013 CHL Post Defenseman of the Year putting him with some good company: Dougie Hamilton, Keith Yandle, Chris Pronger also won that award. If Sproul plays his game he has an opportunity to jump up to the Wings in 2014/2015 due to their situation on defense.
5) Xavier Ouellet 6'0 187lbs D: Ouellet started turning heads this year at the World Juniors. He was strong with the puck, had good offensive instincts but most importantly he makes good decisions. He wins the confidence of his goaltender and partner because he consistently makes the right read coming out of the zone. Although he isn't the most physical, and he could use his frame to knock forwards off the puck more, he has a good chance to play a strong role next year in Grand Rapids. He grabbed 41 points in 50 games last season and could definitely quarterback the powerplay. He reminds me a lot of the Oilers Justin Schultz, except he makes better defensive decisions.
So there you have it. Five guys that are ready to play in Detroit or Grand Rapids. The future is bright, and hopefully we'll see these five guys hit the ice in Hockeytown together someday soon.