Following each draft season, naturally, there is a greater level of anticipation for the draftees. All eyes are on the anticipated success of the starry-eyed selections while players from seasons prior to fade into the background. Though more often than not, it’s unintentional.
For the Detroit Red Wings, they have several players deserving of mention that may have gotten lost in translation along the way. All possessing high-level talent, drive and maturity, they deserve a metaphorical tip of the hat. Though they may not be NHL bound just yet, they are catalysts to the development of the future Red Wings.
Though general manager Steve Yzerman is holding off on making promises, it is clear, that the future of the team is in development at the AHL level.
Dominic Turgeon – Center
Dominic Turgeon is one of the hardest working, dedicated skaters to come through the AHL’s Grand Rapids Griffins organization. Drafted in 2016, he’s been working for nearly four seasons, trying to earn his place at the top. Turgeon isn’t a massive point producer, but the “off the scoresheet” efforts are what is most evident when watching him.
Over the last few seasons, he has embraced an increase in special team top unit responsibilities. His consistent presence on the penalty kill has helped the Griffins maintain an 82.4 percent kill efficiency so far this season. Turgeon has shown a capacity for leadership in man-advantage situations – a quality desperately needed in Detroit.
He’s been working hard to come back from a season-ending thoracic outlet syndrome injury in late in 2017-18. The recovery from the injury saw Turgeon struggle through 2018-19 but he pushed harder in the offseason and has since proven an admirable tenacity for hardship. He possesses a strict dedication to the team and development throughout his time in the Red Wings’ system.
Only signed to a one-year extension for the 2019-20 season, Turgeon’s longevity with the Red Wings organization is in question. If not given a shot with Detroit, it’s likely he’ll part ways with them and go where the NHL is a little more likely. In the meantime, he remains a hidden gem in the Detroit system which would be a shame to waste.
Evgeny Svechnikov – Right Wing
Evgeny Svechnikov has struggled to come back from his MCL/ACL injury. He missed an entire season which resulted in many people forgetting about him – especially since his brother Andrei was (and still is) making waves in the NHL with the Carolina Hurricanes.
Many began to doubt whether Evgeny could recover from such a setback. A new Svechnikov had stolen the limelight and Evgeny found himself slipping through the cracks. While at a training camp event prior to the 2019-20 season-opening, he told me that he was very proud of his brother but just did what he could to ignore what media said about him personally.
The battle for Svechnikov’s return to the Detroit prospect front has been a long one but he’s a player that shouldn’t be written off yet. According to Shawn Horcoff, the Red Wings Director of Player Development, Svechnikov’s been having a difficult season, but there’s a silver lining for the young forward – “He has the ability to contribute not just on the scoresheet, but do the little things and bring energy to a lineup,” Horcoff told MLive (from “How Detroit Red Wings’ Prospects are Shaping Up,” MLive, 01/2020).
Evgeny has an intense passion – his fighting spirit is tangible. Though the stats don’t show it yet, his contributions and constant effort on the ice is something that is lacking up top with the Red Wings right now. He’s desperate to prove himself.
Svechnikov isn’t lacking in on-ice skills either. His leg strength appears to be fully recovered and intensified. He constantly is working hard on the boards and trying to open up rush opportunities. He’s got a good vision on the play and speed which is a large reason he has been successful up until now.
Its cliche to say “the points will come” but it doesn’t make it any less true. He’s in the double digits as of now, but knows he can produce more – and he will. If I had to guess, Detroit will extend him at least one more season to see just what he can do when he’s fully recovered.
Brian Lashoff – Defense
The defensive future of Detroit is often paired with the young and aspiring prospects who have recently stolen the limelight. Moritz Seider, Filip Hronek, Gustav Lindstrom among others are quickly becoming the face of the Red Wings’ blueline. They all have incredible and different skillsets, however, its often forgotten that there are veterans at the AHL level helping to fine-tune those skills.
Brian Lashoff has been one of those consistent veterans in Grand Rapids. He’s spent the whole of his career, 11 seasons worth, with the Detroit organization. He’s been part of the leadership team on the ice for more than three seasons with good reason. Lashoff knows what the organization expects, accepts his responsibility, and is always willing to step up on and off the ice.
Captain Matt Ford told me in a post-game interview that Lashoff is “…stronger than people realize,” and, “always willing to stop pucks and get sticks in the way..” He’s an unsung hero – the guy who is always putting his body on the line for his teammates every time.
Lashoff is often not considered a “prospect” because he’s been in the system so long – he’s treated like his NHL hopes are long gone. He may not be a front-runner for a position in Detroit’s rebuild plan, but he still has a shot. He’s mature enough to rely on at a moment’s notice and has mastered the ever-frustrating emotions of getting called up just to get sent back. His maturity has been his biggest asset and makes him NHL-ready whenever that call does come.
Overlooked but Invaluable
Every organization has its superstars and “next big things.” Detroit is no different – it’s just magnified because of the current regression of the team as a whole. A little glimmer of light is exaggerated in such a state. Many get overlooked or just plain forgotten.
For Dominic Turgeon, Evgeny Svechnikov and Brian Lashoff, all Calder Cup Champions with successful careers, they have fallen victim to being oversights. As newer selections drafted or otherwise, take center stage, these players must work even harder to achieve the same goal.
Detroit may not have room for their individual skill sets in the long-term plan, but they’re worth considering in the meantime. As developing and developed players, they offer valuable insight for the next generation while still competing for themselves.
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I am a Detroit Red Wings prospect journalist for Access Hockey MI covering the Grand Rapids Griffins and Toledo Walleye prospect development. Draft analyst for USHL hockey with the Muskegon Lumberjacks.