By The Detroit News
Their 25-season playoff streak over, the Detroit Red Wings are viewed as a franchise looking to rebuild.
Help, it seems, is on the way.
The Red Wings landed five players in ESPN’s top 100 NHL prospects (pay site), posted Wednesday. And, while no Red Wings prospect cracked the top half of the list — center Michael Rasmussen is the highest at No. 60 — only one team boasts more prospects (Tampa Bay, with six).
The St. Louis Blues also had five prospects on the list.
The 6-foot-5, 215-pound Rasmussen, 18, was the Red Wings’ top pick (No. 9 overall) in June’s NHL Draft. He had 55 points (32 goals) last season for Tri-City of the WHL.
“It’s easy to imagine why some scouts would be optimistic about a towering center with significant scoring numbers, such as Michael Rasmussen,” ESPN’s Corey Pronman wrote. “He’s a smart playmaker who plays at a pro-level pace. He has vision and a good shot, and I’ve seen Tri-City lean on his size as a net-front presence on the power play. Rasmussen is also solid defensively and wins puck battles using his size. His main drawback is his skating. He’s below-average in terms of speed, and though that isn’t a huge issue in the grand scheme of his skill set, it keeps him from being truly dynamic. Additionally, his even-strength production was pretty poor.”
Following Rasmussen among the Red Wings representatives is left wing Evgeny Svechnikov, who is at No. 72 after spending most of last season helping the Grand Rapids Griffins win the Calder Cup (20 goals, 31 assists in 74 games). The 20-year-old also appeared in two games for the Red Wings.
“He’s a creative playmaker and can score from middle distance,” Pronman wrote. “He uses his big frame well and can play a physical game effectively. Svechnikov’s skating stands out in a negative manner when you watch him, which has been the case for a few years.”
Defensemen round out the Red Wings quintet, with Joe Hicketts at No. 84, Vili Saarijarvi at No. 90, and Filip Hronek at No. 96.
Pronman likes Hicketts’ “hard-nosed style” despite his size (5-8, 174), and said Saarijarvi’s creativity and offensive IQ “are elite,” giving him “a lot of potential.”
Hronek, 20, was the Red Wings’ second-round pick in 2016.
“He moves the puck very well, has great awareness and is able to be an important part of a power play,” Pronman wrote.
Pronman’s rankings did not include prospects who played in 25 or more games in any NHL season, or 50 for their career. Goaltenders were ranked separately.