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Matheson discusses the Red Wings’ prospect development ‘machine’; pro scout says Marchenko > Mantha

The Edmonton Journal's Jim Matheson penned a significant slate of "Hockey World" columns, and I'm stealing his headliner from KK to utilize here on TMR--because it's all about the Red Wings' system of prospect development, and it's prompted (of course) by Gustav Nyquist's

Matheson duly notes that the Wings take some swings and miss at the draft...

The prevailing opinion is the Red Wings mine the NHL draft better than anybody else, considering where they pick every June — no first selection higher than 19th overall (Jakub Kindl in 2005) in the last 15 years. Kindl is largely a third-pairing defenceman with detractors. “This Kindl doesn’t read that well,” said one pro scout, when asked why the Czech hadn’t made bigger NHL strides.

But he reveals some intriguing comments about the Wings' system of drafting and developing, as well as a surprise pick for the organiation's top prospect (not Anthony Mantha?) from an anonymous pro scout...

“Their best prospect defenceman isn’t (Xavier) Ouellet or (Ryan) Sproul (second-rounders). It’s that (Alexei) Marchenko (205th pick in 2011),” said another pro scout. Marchenko, 22, currently in Grand Rapids, played in the AHL all-star game this year. He’s out while recovering from ankle surgery, but in his first North American season, the right-handed shooting defenceman has already played an NHL game.

But the Wings of today, suffering through their worst injury-plagued season in many years, have been able to change on the fly courtesy players they drafted: Nyquist, Tomas Tatar, Tomas Jurco, Riley Sheahan.

“(Red Wings GM) Ken Holland’s draft philosophy is to get two players out of every draft (to the NHL), doesn’t matter if it’s first round or fifth or sixth,” former Calgary Flames GM Craig Button said. “They draft players who can skate, with skill but then they become part of a group ... They throw them all in the mix. Some are going to make it, some aren’t.”

And Button and the pro scout continue:

“The thing about the Wings,” said a scout from another organization, “is their (drafted) players all buy in to what it’s going to take to get to the NHL.”

See: hard work, on and off the ice.

Nyquist, a product of the 2008 draft, is the son of a surgeon and an architect who went to school at the University of Maine, and is a dazzling talent at 24.

As the Detroit News's Gregg Krupa revealed...

"I remember one play Nyquist had against us ... a two-on-one where one of our defencemen made a helluva diving play and he just spun away and put the puck right on the guy’s tape for a goal,” said [Okalhoma City Barons] coach Todd Nelson, who saw Nyquist in the playoffs on a line with Tatar and Joakim Andersson. “When Chicago rallied to beat Detroit in the playoffs, they sent them all down to Grand Rapids. Not good for us.”

There's more, including a wonderful quip from Hakan Andersson and more Nyquist talk, but I can't quote the entire article.

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perfection's avatar

I LOVE seeing the Marchenko love. With his 4 years of KHL experience I think he’s definitely our most NHL ready dman. His first year gettin used to north American ice has resulted in an all star appearance. I really think there’s a big chance he makes the team next year… perhaps at Almquists expense?

Posted by perfection from LaLaLand on 04/07/14 at 02:32 AM ET

George Malik's avatar

When I saw Marchenko in the summer and fall, the following items struck me:

1. He’s 22, but he’s married. He’s one of the few players I’ve seen who wears a big, honkin’ wedding ring under his hockey glove (that’s supposed to be a no no). The Mrs. probably came over to North America with him, and I’d imagine that her presence aided in his transition;

2. He came over knowing how to work out. Most of the Wings’ prospects, whether they’re 18 or 22, tend to “turn pro” absent the bulging muscles or bulk that you’re familiar seeing pro players sporting—they look like average young men save their hockey player thighs and/or attempts to bulk up their shoulders and arms instead of their core—and Marchenko had already filled out.

Eliteprospects.com’s profile lists him at 6’2"and 212 pounds, as do the Griffins, and those estimates are spot-on;

3. While he didn’t play in a first-pair role for CSKA Moscow, he played in 3 partial seasons and one full season in a men’s league, and he possessed the same kind of pro polish to his game that Teemu Pulkkinen did—though Europeans are still a little overwhelmed by the size and strength of North American opponents, and Marchenko had some trouble adjusting to the angles of intercepting players on North American-sized ice;

4. He’s got a cannon;

5. He and Xavier Ouellet naturally believe that “less is more” when it comes to making simple plays or overplaying the puck, and that’s a wonderful natural instinct for a defenseman to have.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 04/07/14 at 02:53 AM ET


The St. Louis game is on the Sunday before Easter.

Posted by wingsnut25 on 04/07/14 at 08:30 AM ET


Sorry commented on wrong post.

Posted by wingsnut25 on 04/07/14 at 08:31 AM ET


“Their best prospect defenceman isn’t (Xavier) Ouellet or (Ryan) Sproul (second-rounders). It’s that (Alexei) Marchenko (205th pick in 2011),” said another pro scout.

Best prospect defenseman, George. Not Marchenko > Mantha.

Posted by Vasha on 04/07/14 at 08:42 AM ET


For those of you who watch GR games, how does Nick Jensen look and does he have a NHL future?

Posted by lancer on 04/07/14 at 01:34 PM ET

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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.