There’s been a lot of prospect talk lately, as ESPN’s Corey Pronman recently released his top 100 NHL prospects list, as well as each teams farm rankings. The Wings managed to tie for having the 2nd most prospects on the top 100 list with 5, however the highest being at number 60. But how do I view the Wings top prospects? Starting off with 6-10, here’s how I would rank our prospects.
10. Axel Holmstrom
As a 7th round pick, Holmstrom’s development has gone in the right direction. Immediately after being selected by Detroit, Axel played his junior year in the SHL and it’s one he won’t forget. He was named Sweden’s junior player of the year after scoring 20 points in 44 regular season games. He followed that up with a record setting playoff run, as he led the entire SHL in playoff scoring with 18 points in 15 games, and broke Daniel and Henrik Sedin’s record for playoff scoring by a junior player. Since then he’s dealt with some injuries that have slowed him down, but that hasn’t stopped him from progressing as he will be joining the Griffins this upcoming season. Expect to see him wearing the Winged Wheel in a year or 2.
9. Givani Smith
I like to call Givani, a poor man’s Wayne Simmonds due to many similarities. They both play extremely hard and are tough to play against, but also have some skill to their game. The reason why I say he’s “a poor man’s” Wayne Simmonds is because I don’t think Smith has the offensive ceiling to reach the level Simmonds plays at. They also both have glowing personalities, as they both like to have the spot light on them, and it makes them a fan favorite. A problem I do have with Smith however, is his discipline. Over his last 2 years in the OHL, he has raked up 285 PIM. He will most likely be returning to the OHL next season.
8. Tyler Bertuzzi
Bertuzzi, the often forgotten piece the Red Wings received when they moved down in the 2013 draft to select Anthony Mantha, has shown why he won’t be forgotten anymore. Bert really left his mark on the Grand Rapids Griffins, becoming the franchise’s all time leading playoff goal scorer with 23 playoff goals. He also helped lead them to the Calder Cup Championship in 2017, and was named playoff MVP. What makes him such a dominant player in the playoffs, is his intensity and versatility. He can play on any line and play several roles while still bringing the same compete level. Bertuzzi could find himself playing in Detroit this upcoming season.
7. Keith Petruzzeli
Already being ranked 7th, don’t be surprised if Petruzzeli makes the top 5 as soon as next season. Falling to Detroit in the 3rd round, Keith has built up a lot of hype with his massive 6’6 frame and excellent athletism. If that’s not good enough for you, he even scored a goal last season in the USHL.
A potential number 1 goaltender, it’s easy to see why some have compared him to Ben Bishop, as they both have great size, movements, and can handle the puck. He had a good showing at the WJSS and could be the 3rd goaltender for Team USA at the WJC in 2018, and will be a candidate to be the starting goaltender at the WJC in 2019. He will be attending Quinnipiac University this upcoming season.
6. Joe Hicketts
Hicketts has battled though incredible adversity to get to where he is today. Going undrafted due to small size (5’8) Hicketts earned an ELC from the Wings after a memorable performance at their 2014 prospects development camp. He has since accomplished several milestones. He won a gold medal with Team Canada at the 2015 WJC, and was also named the WHL’s Western Conference’s player of the year in 2016. He made the jump to the AHL where he put up a respectable 34 points in 73 games. What makes him ranked so high is he plays a complete game. Very responsible in his own end, but also has dynamic offensive instincts. Despite his small size he also plays a physical style and doesn’t let anyone push him around.
I expect him to be Detroit’s main call up defensemen for injuries this season, and have a full time NHL spot next season.