Seeing as both the NHL and AHL have both just had their All Star weekends come and go, it only seems right to push this out. We’re at roughly midseason in both leagues, give or take, so there’s a mildly decent indication where prospects in both leagues, and others, stand at currently. There’s too many to keep track of, quite frankly, so we’ll keep it to a nice 13.
No. 13: Keith Petruzzelli
Petruzzelli falls a little bit from my previous rankings due to a very underwhelming beginning to his season. Posting a .884 save percentage to go along with a 3.22 GAA in his debut season with Quinnipiac University. The college game does have relatively high goal scoring numbers, and significantly higher than the NHL, generally speaking. However, through 8 games played this season, the numbers do not treat Petruzzelli well. I still do like him as a prospect though, and expect him to adjust in the coming years seeing as he’s only a freshman.
No. 12: Kasper Kotkansalo
Kotkansalo moves up 4 spots, and is adjusting to the NCAA game nicely. One of the Wings’ 2017 third-round picks, Kotkansalo is a big body, and brings a presence offensively that doesn’t always get the points. With more time in the NCAA, and hopefully with Grand Rapids, he could compete for a spot in the NHL as soon as next season. Hopeful thoughts, no doubt, but stranger things have happened.
No. 11: Zach Gallant
Gallant falls to number 11 for these rankings. He’s a big body center capable of scoring and putting up points. However, his production has dropped by a relatively large margin through 42 games this season. I’m still high on Gallant, part of that may be because he’s another third-round pick, though I do think he’s capable of producing in the NHL in the next 2-3 years if all goes well.
No. 10: Dominic Turgeon
He’s played five games for the Wings so far this year, though failed to put up any points. The 2014 third-rounder still has a bright future ahead, and there’s no doubt about it. He’s producing in the AHL after a widely underwhelming debut season with the Griffins. Turgeon isn’t necessarily a player to go to for points, but he’s definitely improved in that area as well. Turgeon shot up my rankings in part because of his NHL debut, but he also played very well in his small sample size.
No. 9: Filip Hronek
Hronek’s shot up my rankings as well, and for good reason. after being thrust into a much larger role with Grand Rapids this season, Hronek has played very well both offensively and defensively. With Mike Green being a name likely on the trade block, Hronek could be potentially get the call to fill his roster spot if the time comes.
No. 8: Givani Smith
Smith falls one spot, due in large part to injury. He’s got 13 goals and 18 points in 28 games thus far, and has largely impressed with his goal scoring ability when healthy. Smith isn’t necessarily known for his scoring, as he picks up more than his fair share of penalty minutes. Showing much better discipline this year, he’s someone to keep an eye on through Training Camp and the preseason next year.
No. 7: Jordan Sambrook
Trading places with Smith, it really could go either way. Health is the main determining factor here, as Smith has a much smaller sample size. After being traded by the Erie Otters following a great start to the season, Sambrook has kept up the production. Playing well on both ends of the ice, Sambrook should get a look with Grand Rapids next season.
No. 6: Joe Hicketts
Hicketts is a sight to behold. Undersized physically, but plays like he’s 6’2, 190 pounds. Like Turgeon, he made his debut earlier this season due to injury, and boy did he make the most of it. In his one game, he helped contribute to a shutout. Obviously it’s a team effort, but even still he was explicitly one of the team’s best defenseman.
No. 5: Vili Saarijarvi
Saarijarvi has split time between Toledo and Grand Rapids, playing 10 and 22 games, respectively. He’s impressed in Grand Rapids this season, a strong defensive presence this year, Saarijarvi hasn’t necessarily put up the offensive numbers you’d have hoped for. Like Hronek, Sarrijarvi may get the call up to the NHL if Green is traded.
No. 4: Evgeny Svechnikov
After an impressive debut season in Grand Rapids, a very underwhelming season this year sees Svechnikov fall from the number one spot. There is no doubt that he’s a talented player, and may be going through a sophomore slump, but there is cause for concern. Producing just 14 points through 40 games this season, there’s really no telling what will happen.
No. 3: Michael Rasmussen
Rasmussen stays at number three, though strictly due to injury. He’s played very well this year. While he does still need to improve in 5-on-5 hockey, 34 points in 24 games is still very nice production. Likely a net-front presence when he reaches the NHL, Rasmussen will hopefully be what we all hoped Justin Abdelkader or Luke Glendening would be.
No. 2: Dennis Cholowski
Hard to pick between Cholowski and Rasmussen for the two and three spots, but Cholowski gets the two. Due in part to health, Cholowski has put up monster numbers offensively from the blue line. On top of that, he’s played very well defensively as well. Cholowsi’s a solid skater, and a pretty big body who could very well play in the NHL as soon as next season.
No. 1: Tyler Bertuzzi
Bertuzzi has played outrageously well since making his first NHL appearance this season. Called up to replace an injured Luke Glendening, Bertuzzi was told to find a permanent residence in Detroit after performing well. While he’s not a player that will put up a ton of points, he does get into the right places at the right times when necessary. With 9 points in 15 games this year, Bertuzzi has done nothing but impress. I was very high on him going into the season, and maybe a little worried about just how high I was, but I’d like to think I got this one right.
The Wings don’t necessarily have a bright future. However, this is a team notorious for finding gems, even if it’s for just one year, in the later rounds, and even a undrafted guys. With draft picks or prospects coming for Mike Green closer to the deadline, hopefully, it will be interesting to see what direction the organization may be headed.