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The Detroit Red Wings' immediate outlook isn't too bright. But their future appears to hold plenty of promise.
That's thanks to a potentially bountiful NHL draft last June — a big reason why ESPN ranked the Wings' NHL "prospect pipeline" No. 5 in a story posted Monday.
This echoes similar feelings from the Sporting News, which last month ranked the Red Wings' system No. 10 out of 31 NHL teams, also on the strength of a strong 2018 draft.
The Red Wings' prospect pool is led by winger Filip Zadina, who went No. 6 overall to the Red Wings, and is wasting little time making his presence felt, meshing with established NHL players such as Andreas Athanasiou and Thomas Vanek in the Wings camp.
The Red Wings also added center Joe Veleno in the first round (No. 30 overall), to go with up-and-coming forward Michael Rasmussen, Detroit's first-round pick in 2017 (No. 9 overall) who also appears ready to make an impact in the NHL soon.
"A strong 2018 draft that saw Zadina, Joseph Veleno and Jonatan Berggren fall into Detroit's lap bolstered a prospect core that has taken dramatic steps forward in recent years," wrote Chris Peters, ESPN's NHL draft and prospects analyst. "Michael Rasmussen is another forward the club can be excited about, while defenseman Filip Hronek may be ready to take the next step. This system is starting to look more like that of a team committed to rebuilding."
Peters rated Zadina, Veleno and Rasmussen as "A" prospects, meaning they "project more comfortably into impact roles — that is, players who will fit into top scoring lines or top-four defenses ..." Berggren, who went to the Red Wings in Round 2, defenseman Dennis Cholowski (first round in 2016), Hronek, defenseman Jared McIsaac (another second-round pick from June) and forward Evgeny Svechnikov as "B" prospects who project more as "everyday NHL players."
The influx of youth is welcome to an organization that has missed the playoffs in back-to-back seasons after 25 straight postseason appearances, and looking to replace one of its all-time greats in forward Henrik Zetterberg.