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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - Hope springs eternal on draft day, and the Detroit Red Wings have high expectations heading into Saturday’s NHL Entry Draft at GM Place in Vancouver. (6 p.m. EDT on OLN.)

Thanks to Red Wings assistant GM Jim Nill and his scouting staff, Detroit has long been renowned for its ability to uncover hidden gems in the draft. That strength will be tested on Saturday, as the Wings will pick before only Stanley Cup champion Carolina in each round, by virtue of winning the Presidents’ Trophy.

But whether it’s choosing Steve Yzerman fourth overall in 1983, Henrik Zetterberg with the 210th selection in 1999 – or, regretfully, Curtis Bowen at no. 22 in 1992 – the process is nothing if not an inexact science.

Some players become instant stars and some never pan out, but many eventually serve an apprenticeship in the American Hockey League. When it comes to the Red Wings, that means having their prospects play with the Grand Rapids Griffins at Van Andel Arena.

Since the Griffins/Red Wings affiliation began in 2002, a total of 16 Detroit draft picks have made their way into Grand Rapids’ lineup. Before dreaming of what might result from Saturday’s talent haul, here’s a look back at rewards that the Red Wings’ previous drafts have reaped in West Michigan.


1998


Ryan Barnes
(LW)
2nd pick – 2nd round – 55th overall
Griffins totals: 211 GP, 18-27—45, +19, 493 PIM (2002-05)
Red Wings totals: 2 GP, 0-0—0, 0, 0 PIM (2003-04)

Detroit selected Pavel Datsyuk six picks, four rounds and 116 overall selections after Barnes, who ranks sixth all time on the Griffins in penalty minutes.


1999


Kent McDonell
(RW)
3rd pick – 6th round – 181st overall
Griffins totals: 77 GP, 21-37—58, -11, 171 PIM (2005-06)

McDonell was originally selected by Carolina in 1997 but re-entered the draft after not signing within the allotted two-year period. The Red Wings traded him to Columbus in 2000 before re-signing him as a free agent last summer.


2000


Niklas Kronwall
(D)
1st pick – 1st round – 29th overall
Griffins totals: 102 GP, 15-51—66, +11, 73 PIM (2003-06)
Red Wings totals: 47 GP, 2-12—14, +16, 44 PIM (2003-06)

A budding star in Detroit – and recent winner of both an Olympic gold medal and the MVP trophy at the World Championships – Kronwall was named the AHL’s outstanding defenseman as a Griffin in 2004-05.


Tomas Kopecky (LW)
2nd pick – 2nd round – 38th overall
Griffins totals: 243 GP, 63-75—138, +40, 218 PIM (2002-06)
Red Wings totals: 1 GP, 0-0—0, +1, 2 PIM (2005-06)

Among the Griffins’ all-time top 10 in games played, goals, assists, points and plus/minus, Kopecky made his NHL debut with Detroit on Feb. 28 at San Jose. He has played more games for Grand Rapids than any other player since the Red Wings affiliation began in 2002.


Paul Ballantyne (D)
8th pick – 6th round – 196th overall
Griffins totals: 39 GP, 1-2—3, -2, 24 PIM (2002-05)

Ballantyne played parts of three seasons with the Griffins, logging a high of 23 games in 2004-05.


Todd Jackson (RW)
10th pick – 8th round – 251st overall
Griffins totals: 35 GP, 0-3—3, -3, 12 PIM (2004-06)

Jackson played only five games with Grand Rapids in 2005-06, his second pro campaign.


2001


Drew MacIntyre
(G)
2nd pick – 4th round – 121st overall
Griffins totals: 37 GP, 15-12-0, 2.78 GAA, 0.900%, 1 SO (2004-06)

Called into duty with the Griffins during the 2006 postseason, MacIntyre led all Calder Cup Playoff goalies with a 1.62 GAA and a 0.940 save percentage in five games.


2002


Jiri Hudler
(LW)
1st pick – 2nd round – 58th overall
Griffins totals: 185 GP, 65-114—179, +22, 112 PIM (2003-06)
Red Wings totals: 16 GP, 1-2—3, -1, 12 PIM (2003-06)

Hudler surpassed the output of his first two Griffins seasons combined in 2005-06, earning a spot on the AHL’s Second All-Star Team. Among the team’s top four all time in goals, assists and points, he set a club mark last season with 60 assists and flirted with the scoring record all year, finishing with 96 points.


Valtteri Filppula (C)
3rd pick – 3rd round – 95th overall
Griffins totals: 74 GP, 20-50—70, +23, 30 PIM (2005-06)
Red Wings totals: 4 GP, 0-1—1, +1, 2 PIM (2005-06)

Filppula enjoyed an outstanding North American debut last season, averaging nearly a point per game and finishing fifth on the Griffins in scoring. He earned a four-game stint with the Red Wings and excelled during Grand Rapids’ run to the conference finals, leading the team with seven goals and placing second with nine assists and 16 points.


Logan Koopmans (G)
5th pick – 5th round – 166th overall
Griffins totals: 1 GP, 0-1-0, 7.54 GAA, 0.722% (2005-06)

Koopmans made his AHL debut with Grand Rapids on April 9.


Derek Meech (D)
7th pick – 7th round – 229th overall
Griffins totals: 157 GP, 10-24—34, +1, 125 PIM (2004-06)

A constant presence on Grand Rapids’ blue line, Meech has missed only three games in his two seasons as a Griffin, appearing in 173 of 176 regular season and playoff contests.


2003


Jimmy Howard
(G)
1st pick – 2nd round – 64th overall
Griffins totals: 38 GP, 27-6-2, 2.58 GAA, 0.910%, 2 SO (2005-06)
Red Wings totals: 4 GP, 1-2-0, 2.99 GAA, 0.904% (2005-06)

Named to the AHL’s All-Rookie Team – a spot earned in 2005 by Conn Smythe winner and newly crowned Stanley Cup champion Cam Ward – Howard lived up to his billing by going 11-0 during March and winning a franchise-record 12 straight games.


Kyle Quincey (D)
2nd pick – 4th round – 132nd overall
Griffins totals: 70 GP, 7-26—33, +15, 107 PIM (2005-06)
Red Wings totals: 1 GP, 0-0—0, 0, 0 PIM (2005-06)

During his rookie season with the Griffins, Quincey displayed the tools that may soon have him on a fast track to Detroit – an offensive touch, dependability in his own end, and a hard-hitting nature. He made his NHL debut Nov. 25 at Anaheim.


Ryan Oulahen (LW)
3rd pick – 5th round – 164th overall
Griffins totals: 75 GP, 9-10—19, 0, 20 PIM (2005-06)

A reliable fourth-liner, Oulahen will look to improve his offensive numbers during his upcoming sophomore season with Grand Rapids.


2005


Jakub Kindl
(D)
1st pick – 1st round – 19th overall
Griffins totals: 3 GP, 0-1—1, -1, 2 PIM (2005-06)

In the history of the Griffins, only nine players have been selected higher in the NHL Entry Draft than Kindl at no. 19. The 19-year-old, who made his pro debut with the Griffins in April, will return to his junior team in Kitchener next season.


Notes: Detroit’s third pick in 1991, Chris Osgood, played a three-game rehab stint with the Griffins in 2005-06…Four other Red Wings draftees played for Grand Rapids prior to the start of the franchises’ affiliation in 2002 – Joe Frederick, Kelly Hurd, Gord Kruppke and Travis Tucker…The Red Wings’ picks on Saturday are as follows: 1st Round-29th overall; 2nd-62nd; 3rd-92nd; 5th-152nd; 6th-182nd; 7th-191st (from Phoenix); 7th-212th.

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