Red Wings Prospects: Rankings & Analysis

It did not take long for Filip Zadina to impress the Detroit Red Wings at 2018 Development Camp.

The sixth-overall selection in the 2018 NHL Draft—using mostly borrowed equipment—became a viral sensation after unleashing his lauded quick release, firing pucks past Red Wings goaltending prospects.

Now a (prominent) member of the organization, Zadina joined the likes of Michael Rasmussen and Dennis Cholowski atop Detroit’s prospect pipeline. These players—along with other draft picks and free agents—will soon don the red and white as the Red Wings’ rebuild progresses forward.

As part of the 2018 Red Wings Summer Rebuild Series, let’s take a look at where Zadina, Rasmussen, and Cholowski rank among Hockeytown’s top-25 prospects and evaluate what lies ahead for these future Red Wings.

Top-25 Red Wings Prospects

With 10 new prospects added to the system following the 2018 NHL Draft, let’s see how Detroit’s top-25 prospects sort out in terms of potential NHL contributions.

Rk. Player Pos. 2017-18 Stats & Team
1 Filip Zadina RW 57 GP – 44 G – 38 A – 82 PTS (Halifax/QMJHL)
2 Joe Veleno C 64 GP – 22 G – 57 A – 79 PTS (Drummondville/QMJHL)
3 Michael Rasmussen C 47 GP – 31 G – 28 A – 59 PTS (Tri-City/WHL)
4 Jonatan Berggren RW 38 GP – 18 G – 39 A – 57 PTS (Skelleftea/SuperElit)
5 Filip Hronek D 67 GP – 11 G – 28 A – 39 PTS (Grand Rapids/AHL)
6 Dennis Cholowski D 69 GP – 14 G – 52 A – 66 PTS (Portland/WHL)
7 Jared McIsaac D 65 GP – 9 G – 38 A – 47 PTS (Halifax/QMJHL)
8 Evgeny Svechnikov LW 57 GP – 7 G – 16 A – 23 PTS (Grand Rapids/AHL)
9 Gustav Lindstrom D 39 GP – 6 G – 8 A – 14 PTS (Almtuna IS/Allsvenskan)
10 Vili Saarijarvi D 42 GP – 0 G – 11 A – 11 PTS (Grand Rapids/AHL)
11 Joe Hicketts D 67 GP – 3 G – 9 A – 12 PTS (Grand Rapids/AHL)
12 Filip Larsson G 30 GP – 1.65 GAA – .941 SV% (Tri-City/USHL)
13 Givani Smith RW 46 GP – 17 G – 13 A – 30 PTS (Kitchener/OHL)
14 Keith Petruzzelli G 17 GP – 2.88 GAA – .892 SV% (Quinnipiac/NCAA)
15 David Pope LW 35 GP – 20 G – 21 A – 41 PTS (Nebraska-Omaha/NCAA)
16 Alec Regula D 67 GP – 7 G – 18 A – 25 PTS (London/OHL)
17 Libor Sulak D 42 GP – 9 G – 23 A – 32 PTS (Pelicans/SM-liiga)
18 Kasper Kotkansalo D 40 GP – 2 G – 4 A – 6 PTS (Boston University/NCAA)
19 Kaden Fulcher G 55 GP – 2.86 GAA – .899 SV% (Hamilton/OHL)
20 Dominic Turgeon C 69 GP – 14 G – 18 A – 32 PTS (Grand Rapids/AHL)
21 Seth Barton D 49 GP – 6 G – 27 A – 33 PTS (Trail/BCHL)
22 Zach Gallant C 54 GP – 16 G – 15 A – 31 PTS (Peterborough/OHL)
23 Lane Zablocki RW 65 GP – 12 G – 19 A – 31 PTS (Victoria/WHL)
24 Jesper Eliasson G 19 GP – 1.93 GAA – .930 SV% (IF Troja-Ljungby/J20 Elit)
25 Ryan O’Reilly RW 45 GP – 21 G – 13 A – 34 PTS (Madison/USHL)

Filip Zadina’s Arrival

Despite the signing of Thomas Vanek and likelihood of Michael Rasmussen making the Red Wings, management still expects Filip Zadina to score a spot on the roster out of training camp this fall. Ice time will be another concern, but with the first-rounder’s skill set, he’ll earn his minutes in no time.

Filip Zadina of the Detroit Red Wings
Filip Zadina should push for a spot on the Red Wings this fall. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

There’s been mixed reports over whether Zadina could start the 2018-19 season in Grand Rapids, if necessary. With Detroit’s roster logjam, this could be helpful to ease the winger into the professional game.

It appears, though, that Zadina’s two options for next season are Detroit or a return to Halifax for another year of junior hockey. After dominating the QMJHL last year, there really is no need for Zadina to spend another campaign at the junior level – his development would be much greater with the Red Wings.

Perhaps not having the Grand Rapids option will convince the Red Wings to clear a spot in the regular lineup for the highly touted winger. The winger is a future star and will be a welcomed addition to a team that struggled to score goals last year.

For now, don’t fret about where Zadina will play next season. Let his skill take over in the fall and make the decision for everyone.

Related – The Grind Line: Red Wings’ Most Impactful Signing

Goaltending Prospects

In a recent interview with Detroit’s Red & White Authority podcast, Red Wings director of amateur scouting Tyler Wright hit on an interesting topic with host Art Regner: Prolonged goaltender development.

Wright noted that the Red Wings prefer to draft netminders who intend to play overseas or in the NCAA ranks before turning pro. This, unlike with CHL prospects, gives them a few additional years to hone their craft before moving to the NHL or AHL.

Keith Petruzzelli of the Detroit Red Wings.
The Red Wings favor goalies from the NCAA ranks and abroad due to their extended development time. (courtesy United States Hockey League)

If you look at Detroit’s depth chart, this is something that’s been going on for quite some time. In the rankings above, only Kaden Fulcher stands out as a non-NCAA/European goaltender, and he was signed as an undrafted free agent. In fact, the last CHL goalie drafted by the Wings was Jake Paterson in 2013 and he’s no longer with the organization.

Perhaps 2018 draft pick Jesper Eliasson can follow a similar path as 2015 selection Joren van Pottelberghe and stay overseas until his early-20s, only venturing across the pond to North America when he’s fully matured as a netminder. Maybe he won’t need that long to develop. Fortunately, the Red Wings and Eliasson have plenty of time to discover the right path.

Prospects on the Move

Several Red Wings prospects will be advancing to a higher league for the 2018-19 season, including a possible trio of new faces in Hockeytown next season.

  • To Detroit (NHL)* – Michael Rasmussen, Filip Hronek, Filip Zadina
  • To Grand Rapids (AHL) – Givani Smith, Dennis Cholowski, David Pope, Christoffer Ehn, Patrik Rybar
  • To NCAA – Filip Larsson (Denver), Ryan O’Reilly (Denver, 2019-20), Seth Barton (UMass-Lowell)
  • To SHL – Jonatan Berggren (Skelleftea), Victor Brattstrom (Timra IK), Gustav Lindstrom (Frolunda), Malte Setkov (Malmo)
  • To SuperElit – Jesper Eliasson (Vaxjo)
  • To Liiga – Otto Kivenmaki (Assat)
*Even with Detroit’s recent signings, many insiders expect Rasmussen, Zadina, and a blue line prospect to make next year’s team.

Red Wings Roster Outlook

A good way to evaluate the depth of any team’s prospect pipeline is to project the roster five years out. Does the lineup look like one of a contender? Are there any shortcomings?

Michael Rasmussen of the Detroit Red Wings.
2017 first-round pick Michael Rasmussen figures to have a large role with the Red Wings over the next decade. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Before diving into the roster, there are a few ground rules to lay down:

  • Draft picks taken in 2019 and beyond will be excluded since there’s no way to project who or what positions will be taken.
  • The Red Wings will lose someone in the eventual Seattle expansion draft, but that loss will be excluded here as well.
  • Surely, trades and free agent signings will occur between now and the start of the 2022-23 season, but we won’t include those players right now.
  • The roster below only contains players from Detroit’s present roster and prospect pipeline.
  • There will be no touching of the hair or face.

Okay, now that that’s settled, here’s what Detroit’s roster could look like when the 2022-23 season kicks off, with each players’ then-age in (parenthesis).

2022-23 Red Wings Forwards
Anthony Mantha (28) Dylan Larkin (26) Filip Zadina (22)
Andreas Athanasiou (28) Joe Veleno (22) Jonatan Berggren (22)
Evgeny Svechnikov (25) Michael Rasmussen (23) Tyler Bertuzzi (27)
David Pope (28) Dominic Turgeon (26) Givani Smith (24)
Justin Abdelkader (35) Christoffer Ehn (26)
2022-23 Red Wings Defense & Goalies
Dennis Cholowski (24) Filip Hronek (24) Filip Larsson (24)
Jared McIsaac (22) Gustav Lindstrom (23) Keith Petruzzelli (23)
Joe Hicketts (26) Vili Saarijarvi (25)
Libor Sulak (28)

Though there will be trades, free agents, draft picks, and expansion losses that will change this roster, the team above looks pretty good, especially up front.

Things may be a bit gloomy now, but there’s hope on the horizon. If the Red Wings can supplement their defense and add an established goaltender for the long run while Petruzzelli and Larsson develop, they’ll be an Eastern Conference force in a few years.

What are your thoughts on the prospect depth of the Detroit Red Wings? Comment below.