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Red Wings prospect news: Backman’s LHC fight on; Athanasiou & Barrie lose; on HF’s top 50

Two Red Wings prospects took part in playoff hockey on Sunday, and their respective teams experienced mixed results:

In Sweden's SHL, Mattias Backman didn't register a point but played 21:16 in Linkopings HC's 1-0 win over AIK Skellefetea, but LHC is still in trouble--they trail the teams' second-round series 3 games to 1;

And in North America, in the OHL, Andreas Athanasiou registered a goal, but his Barrie Colts lost a 4-1 decision to North Bay, who leads the teams' second-round series 2 games to 0.

In regular-season action, in the ECHL, the Toledo Walleye are currently battling the Fort Wayne Komets, and Toledo leads 1-0 with Hannu Toivonen in goal and only Richard Nedomlel representing Wings prospects on the ice as Jared Coreau's sitting this one out. I will update the score of said game later.

And in "catchy-uppy news," Hockey's Future's staff posited their list of the top 50 NHL prospects in 5 installments. Two Wings prospects made the "30's"...

35. Tomas Jurco, LW, Detroit Red Wings
Height: 6-2, Weight: 193

Jurco can flat out dangle with the puck. He possesses excellent skating speed, vision, and creativity along with a good, quick release. The 21-year-old is very patient and poised with the puck on his stick and can move fluidly through the high traffic areas. His desire and work ethic to improve his overall game is outstanding for a player of his offensive skills. The talented forward is also very comfortable playing on either wing, which is particularly helpful with movement on the power play. He still needs more strength and improvement to his game away from the puck, but it is simply a matter of more experience and time.


33. Petr Mrazek, G, Detroit Red Wings
Height: 6-0, Weight: 184

Mrazek has quietly been one of the best goaltenders in the AHL over the course of the last year and a half. While many eyes lie on prospects like John Gibson (ANH) and Andrey Vasilevskiy (TBL), Mrazek has thrived for a second straight season with the Grand Rapids Griffins. He is just now starting to creep into the NHL with injuries affecting the Red Wings NHL tandem of Jimmy Howard and Jonas Gustavsson at times. He has been noted as a big game player and an extremely athletic goaltender, but noteworthy is his history of winning. Mrazek has had considerable success at both the CHL and AHL level. That bodes well for his Detroit Red Wings' future, considering it is a franchise built on a tradition of success. He is just 22 years old, so the Red Wings can afford to slow cook him a little, but he currently stands as one of the more NHL-ready goaltending prospects.

A predictable name landed in the "teens"...

15. Anthony Mantha, RW, Detroit Red Wings
Height: 6-4, Weight: 187

Mantha is a pure sniper with the natural instincts to find the soft spots around the net and quickly bury his opportunities. He is an excellent skater who uses his size and reach to protect the puck from defenders. The big forward is not the most physical player along the boards, but he is very difficult to handle when driving the net. His two-way game is improving enough to allow him to play on both his team's penalty killing and power play units. But it is Mantha's offensive skills and scoring goals with his hard quick release that will get him to the NHL level.

The knocks against Mantha at the 2013 NHL Draft were his lack of consistency and level of competitiveness, but he has erased that notion in the QMJHL this season by scoring 57 goals in 57 games and posting 120 points. The big winger is likely going to be a top-line player for Red Wings.

And a surprising name received "honorable mention" status:

Riley Sheahan, C/W, Detroit Red Wings
Height: 6-2, Weight: 212

Riley Sheahan is one of several young forwards who has kept the Detroit Red Wings playoff hopes alive in the face of mounting injuries. A two-way player with good skating ability, puck protection, and hockey sense, Sheahan projects as a prototypical Red Wings forward in the sense he can do everything fairly well.

He played the first half of the 2013-14 season mostly in the minors, but was recalled in January and has been a contributing member of the roster ever since. Where he plays in the Red Wings lineup largely depends on who is healthy, but Sheahan has the versatility to play all three forward positions and a variety of different roles.

And finally, while I was ill, Hockey's Furtur'es Adam Schnepp noted that the Red Wings have signed so many of their prospects of late that, aside from the Major Junior-playing Phillipe Hudon, Mantha, Athanasiou, Zach Nastasiuk, Jake Paterson, Tyler Bertuzzi, Mitchell Wheaton, Marek Tvrdon and Marc McNulty, the Wings have eight other prospects who are not playing for the Grand Rapids Griffins or Toledo Walleye (so that's 17 prospects who aren't playing in the AHL or ECHL)

The outliers either play in either Sweden (see: the aforementioned Backman, Mattias Janmark, Rasmus Bodin and Hampus Melen) or for NCAA Division I teams (Mike McKee, James de Haas and Ben Marshall), or they're headed to college in the unlisted David Pope, who will play for the University of Nebraska Omaha next season.

Amongst Schnepp's notes:

Mattias Janmark, C, AIK (SHL)
Drafted 3rd round, 79th overall, 2013

Though he may not be as close to coming to North America as countryman Mattis Backman, Mattias Janmark has still made impressive strides during the 2013-14 season. The Swedish forward is a threat any time he touches the puck, evidenced by his 18 goals and 30 points in just his second full SHL season. Janmark complements his offensive touch with the tenacity necessary to dig pucks out of the corner and to retrieve loose pucks. Janmark does need more seasoning in Sweden before he makes the jump to the AHL, but it appears that the Red Wings have another offensive threat picked from the pile of mid-round draftees.


Ben Marshall, D, Minnesota Golden Gophers (Big Ten)
Drafted 7th round, 201st overall, 2010

Ben Marshall has never had the size to be an overly physical defenseman, but his skating ability more than compensates for it. Marshall is a smooth and fast skater, with good on-ice vision that allows him to be an asset both at even strength and on the power play. It seemed that Marshall was poised for a breakout offensive campaign in 2013-14, but his numbers actually decreased when compared to the prior season. Marshall has three goals and 14 assists for 17 points going into the NCAA Tournament, two points fewer than he had in 2012-13 (though he played five fewer games in 2013-14).


James de Haas, D, Clarkson Golden Knights (ECAC)
Drafted 6th round, 170th overall, 2012

The 2013-14 season was something of a mixed bag for James de Haas. He put up a respectable six goals and seven assists in 38 games patrolling the blue line, but he finished the season with an uninspiring minus-12 rating, by far the lowest on the team. At 6'3” and 205 pounds, De Haas is projected as more of a physical defenseman than an offensive defenseman, making it all the more important for him to continue to work on his defensive zone coverage. De Haas is a good skater for his size, and playing in the NCAA should allow him the time he needs to round out his game.

Update: Yahoo Sports' Buzzing the Net's Neate Sager posted a clip of Athanasiou's goal, as well as some context for it:

Too little, too late, and almost too luminescent. After his Barrie Colts were stymied for nearly two playoff games, Andreas Athanasiou delivered quite a parting shot to the North Bay Battalion.

The Detroit Red Wings prospect has some of the supplest hands in the Ontario Hockey League. The 49-goal scorer reaffirmed that on Sunday with a snipe-of-the-year submission that broke North Bay's bid for consecutive shutouts in the conference semifinal. Anthanasiou's inside-out feint to elude veteran Battalion defenceman Marcus McIvor was mouth-watering enough. Then he scored on a between-the-legs shot into the top corner past goalie Jake Smith.

The goal takes place at the 2:23 mark:


That was about the only way the Colts were beating Smith, who had a 154-minute 34-second shutout skein snapped. North Bay won 4-1 to go up 2-0 as the best-of-7 series shifts to Barrie for the next two.

It was also a very veteran move by Athanasiou to not even so much as raise his stick afterward, not it should be necessary to point out one shouldn't 'celly' when his team is trailing in a playoff game. The Woodbridge, Ont., native had had numerous chances against Smith and the Battalion over the first 40 minutes with nothing to show for it. Then the Battalion broke the deadlock with four goals in a 4:11 span of the third, including two on breakaways from San Jose Sharks-signed captain Barclay Goodrow.

"It was kind of weird that a 1-on-2 chance, out of all the point-blank chances that'd I had, was the one that went in," Athanasiou told Rogers TV Barrie. "It feels good to actually get one on the board and finally get one past Smith."

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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.