The Detroit Red Wings and general manager Ken Holland are known for their ability to select world-class talent with their late-round draft picks.
Pavel Datsyuk (171st overall), Henrik Zetterberg (210th overall), Vladimir Konstantinov (221st overall) and Tomas Holmstrom (257th overall) were all taken late in their respective drafts.
The Red Wings have had the opportunity to pick earlier in the draft in recent years and there are a few picks that are already knocking on the locker room door.
The Grand Rapids Griffins—Detroit’s AHL affiliate—won the Calder Cup last season with a lot of the talent you could see on the big stage in the next few seasons. Here are some of the Red Wings’ young stars you should get to know.
Calle Jarnkrok is a 21-year-old native of Gavle, Sweden. He was selected in the second round of the 2010 entry draft (51st overall) and had been playing overseas until coming over to Grand Rapids.
In his nine games at the AHL level, he recorded three assists and a plus-three rating. He’s a creative center who can also play the wing and often mans the point on the power play. The 6'0", 176-pound Swede doesn’t provide elite size, but is known for his hockey sense and technical positioning.
Detroit has a logjam at center, but his versatility on the wing and right-handed shot could garner him an extra look coming out of camp.
Pulkkinen got his first taste of North American hockey when he joined the Griffins for their playoff run. The native of Vantaa, Finland scored his first goal on May 1 and showed good speed in his transition to the AHL.
Pulkkinen played the last three seasons with Jokerit Helsinki of the Finnish Elite League SM-liiga before joining Grand Rapids—a path similar to the one former Red Wing Valtteri Filppula took.
Former Red Wings assistant GM Jim Nill shared his thoughts on Pulkkinen with Ansar Khan of MLive.com. "He's a goal-scorer; he likes to shoot the puck. His big thing is the pace of the game and strength.''
He provides grit, can maneuver well on the small rink and likes to put the puck on net. Pulkkinen will remain in Grand Rapids and begin his first full season in the AHL this fall.
Jurco is easily the flashiest prospect in Detroit’s system. The 20-year-old Czech provides tremendous skill and stick-handling ability that Islanders prospect Ryan Strome called "ridiculous."
Jurco was buried in the minor leagues behind talent like Jonathan Huberdeau, but made a name for himself by setting the team rookie scoring record in 2010 with 26 goals for the Saint John Sea Dogs.
He added the game-winning goal in Game 7 of the Calder Cup Final to earn Grand Rapids its first title.
Jurco has the kind of special skills that put a player on the fast track to the NHL, and if his 2013-14 season can mirror his postseason performance, he could be wearing the winged wheel before you know it.
Martin Frk—pronounced “Furk”—was taken in the second round (49th overall) in the 2012 NHL entry draft from the Halifax Mooseheads of the QMJHL. A Pelhrimov, Czech Republic native, he totaled 35 goals and 84 points in 56 games, leading Halifax to the Memorial Cup title.
MacKinnon spoke about his linemate with Yahoo! Sports' Sunaya Sapurji in May.
He got over 80 points this year and he helps us out a lot. He’s an unbelievable player and he’s got a hell of a shot and really works hard. He touches all three zones really well. I think we’re really lucky to play with him as well because he creates a lot of space for us and it’s awesome.
Frk is an excellent complementary player who can play alongside top-tier talents and hold his own. He may not be a prolific goal scorer on his own, but can still be a major contributor as a top-six forward.
Anthony Mantha is a tremendous talent that the Red Wings were almost as excited to take with the 20th overall pick as he was to be selected.
As the only 50-goal scorer in the 2013 NHL entry draft, Mantha went into Detroit’s prospects camp with the intent to earn a spot on the big club this fall. At 6’4”, he provides good size and a natural scoring ability.
He totaled 50 goals and 89 points in 67 games with Val d’Or of the QMJHL last season, and could be primed to replicate those numbers this year.
Brendan Savage of MLive.com has the breakdown on this prospect: "Mantha is considered a strong skater who has an outstanding shot with an obvious nose for the net. But his consistency, effort and intensity level have been questioned by critics."
The Longueuil, Quebec City native will turn 19 during training camp in September. If Detroit’s trend of maturing its young players is any indication, Mantha will develop into an NHL-caliber talent soon enough.
Detroit opens its training camp on September 12 at Centre Ice Arena in Traverse City.