Detroit Red Wings Using The NCAA To Develop Prospects

Yzerman and the Red Wings

Create a free account to unlock this article!

Get Started

Already a subscriber?  Log In

The Detroit Red Wings have suffered a steady decline in winning percentage over the past four seasons, ultimately leading to a last-place finish among all 31 teams in 2019-20.

Even with the worst record of the salary cap era (2005-06–present) at 17-49-5 (prior to the COVID-19 season cancellation), it still wasn’t bad enough to land a top-three pick in the NHL’s draft lottery. 

Interestingly, the six worst records of the salary cap era have all missed out on the No. 1 pick in the subsequent summer. In four consecutive seasons of decline, the Red Wings themselves have slipped nine draft positions out of a possible 12; there’s clearly a systemic problem in the NHL draft lottery, but I digress.

The Red Wings have still been able to draft promising young players, despite the lack of the “franchise-altering” label. But general manager Steve Yzerman is in for the long haul. While the organization has those promising prospects and budding young players, there is a lot of work to be done to get the team back to the era of 25 consecutive playoff berths.

That long haul means signings and trades will be made with eyes on the future, not just the ensuing season or two. In one way, Yzerman is showing a dedication to the future is the slower development of prospects through the NCAA.

Many of the top-tier prospects that enter college aim for the one-and-done approach of playing a single season (sometimes two) with a strong NCAA program to develop further before turning pro.

For other prospects — typically those drafted in the later rounds — the ability to develop through four years of eligibility and fine-tune their game is huge. The 2020 NHL Draft will be Yzerman’s second with the Red Wings, where he’ll continue to make the final decisions for the future. 

His belief in college hockey has been evident, as every North American player he drafted in 2019 will be playing in the NCAA in 2020-21. That’s only four of 11 players (five, including Finnish defenseman Antti Tuomisto’s commitment to Denver), but that lower number is due to the other six players getting time in various professional leagues overseas.

Inherited Alumni

Former Red Wings GM Ken Holland was developing a collegiate connection within the organization. On the 2019-20 roster, Yzerman inherited NCAA alumni Dylan Larkin, Luke Glendening, Danny DeKeyser, Justin Abdelkader, and Jimmy Howard.

Holland had also signed free agent forward Taro Hirose and 2016 No. 20 overall pick, defenseman Dennis Cholowski, after one NCAA season. Additionally, in April 2019, just days before the official hiring of Yzerman, Holland inked Maine forward Chase Pearson and Denver goaltender Filip Larsson to entry-level contracts.

Yzerman has added to the NCAA alumni count, acquiring defensemen Alex Biega and Cody Goloubef through trades in 2019-20. Strangely, Yzerman did not have a notable NCAA connection during his 10 seasons as GM in Tampa Bay. His most significant association was Russian players including, but not limited to, Andrei Vasilevskiy and Nikita Kucherov.

Veterans Howard and Goloubef are on expiring deals in Detroit and are unlikely to be extended. Also on an expiring deal is Hirose, who is a likely candidate for a new one- or two-year deal.

In The NCAA

Yzerman has also inherited four prospects still in the NCAA. That includes junior forward Jack Adams of Union, senior defenseman Kasper Kotkansalo of Boston University, junior defenseman Seth Barton of UMass-Lowell, and senior goaltender Keith Petruzzelli of Maine.

Part of the aforementioned 2019 draft class, forwards Ethan Phillips and Robert Mastrosimone of Boston University are entering their sophomore seasons while organizational counterparts enter their freshmen season, including Denver defenseman Antti Tuomisto, North Dakota defenseman Cooper Moore, and Colgate goaltender Carter Gylander. Also entering his freshman season, but a 2018 draft pick of Holland’s, is Arizona State forward Ryan O’Reilly.



Breakdown

In total, pending trades and free agency signings, the Red Wings will have nine collegiate alumni on professional contracts in 2020-21 

The above-mentioned rostered alumni are strong examples of the type of development that occurs at the college level. Larkin is the team’s go-to center and likely future captain. Glendening has been a workhorse during his career and is the prototypical “everydayer.” DeKeyser and Abdelkader have been fixtures with changing roles. Prior to 2019-20, Howard has been the team’s starter since the 2009-10 season.

Their paths and careers can be examples for those following in their footprints, not only for the four alumni at various pro levels within the organization, but also for the 10 additional prospects skating in the NCAA.

With help needed at every position in Detroit, the 10 NCAA prospects breakdown to four forwards, four defensemen, and two goaltenders. With those players skating for elite programs with long histories of NHL development, Yzerman’s future pieces are in good hands to mature their game for the future.


Have a question or a comment for Jacob Messing? You can find him on Twitter @Jacob_Messing.

6 Takeaways From NHL's Re-Opening Weekend

Connor Hellebuyck, Winnipeg Jets

Saturday marked the first official NHL games since mid-March and the (re)opening weekend of the NHL was full of excitement, highlights, and lots of nail-biting.

Create a free account to unlock this article!

Get Started

Already a subscriber?  Log In

NHL Trade Deadline Deals Recap: Carolina Adds Firepower & Much More

Sami Vatanen, Carolina Hurricanes

With the continuation of the NHL season less than two weeks away, enough has occurred in the near five-month hiatus to forget about those who will be rejoining their new teams for a chance to win the Stanley Cup.

Create a free account to unlock this article!

Get Started

Already a subscriber?  Log In

Atlantic Hockey Breakout Candidates For 2020-21

Air Force

The sports world remains in flux as COVID-19 continues to spread and resurge across the United States, and while the 2020-21 season schedule seems uncertain, the prospect of breakout players and career-bests is a certainty in Atlantic Hockey.

Create a free account to unlock this article!

Get Started

Already a subscriber?  Log In

NHL COVID-19 Update: Cases, Opt-Outs, Dates & More

Connor McDavid.jpg

As the NHL moves through its return-to-play phases, the league has announced August 1 as the official return of the 2019-20 season.

Create a free account to unlock this article!

Get Started

Already a subscriber?  Log In

WCHA Breakout Candidates For 2020-21 Season

Lucas Sowder, Minnesota State

While some aspects of the college hockey season might be up in the air due to COVID-19, one thing is certain: the WCHA is loaded with possible breakout stars.

Create a free account to unlock this article!

Get Started

Already a subscriber?  Log In

2020 NHL Draft Lottery: How The Placeholder Shapes Round 1

Staples Center LA Kings

The NHL Draft Lottery is an annual mix of emotions for fans as percentages turn to realities and franchise futures are altered — this year, one of those franchises is yet to be determined.

Create a free account to unlock this article!

Get Started

Already a subscriber?  Log In

FloHockey, CCHA Announce Exclusive Streaming Partnership

Screen Shot 2020-06-30 at 10.03.39 AM.png

FloSports, the innovator in live sports streaming and original content, announced today an exclusive multi-year agreement with the Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA) that will see every regular season and postseason event hosted by a CCHA member school streamed live and on-demand on FloHockey. The partnership brings elite NCAA Division I hockey to FloSports’ fast-growing FloHockey platform starting with the 2021-2022 season. CCHA also recently announced that highly-respected hockey coach and college athletics executive, Don Lucia, has been named commissioner.

2020 NHL Draft: Lafrenière Leads Best Of The Best Position Breakdown

NHL: NHL Draft

The date of the 2020 NHL Entry Draft remains in flux during the league’s continued navigation around COVID-19 concerns and new extended playoff format laid out.

Create a free account to unlock this article!

Get Started

Already a subscriber?  Log In

Don Lucia To Become CCHA Commissioner

Don Lucia Minnesota.jpg

When the Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA) begins play after a hiatus of several years, the new commissioner will be former Minnesota Golden Gopher legend Don Lucia. 

Create a free account to unlock this article!

Get Started

Already a subscriber?  Log In