Originally posted on Fox Sports Detroit  |  Last updated 6/15/13
Grand Rapids Griffins head coach, Jeff Blashill has been on a whirlwind coaching odyssey over the past three seasons. Two years ago he was the head coach at Western Michigan. Last season, he was an assistant coach with the Red Wings. This year hes one game away from coaching the Griffins to the AHLs Calder Cup. Through it all, it has become apparent that Blashill is an excellent coach and has a keen eye for talent and player evaluations. After a recent Griffins' practice, Blashill offered the following assessments for 12 of Detroits top prospects. Each of these players has spent all or part of the season with Grand Rapids. Petr Mrazek (G): "Petr has the special ability of thriving in pressure situations. He loves pressure. He has the opportunity, if he continues to improve his skill set to become a very good NHL goalie." Brian Lashoff (D): "Lash is somebody that has become a real good defensive defenseman a great penalty killer, blocks shots ... hes done a real good job." Luke Glendening (RW): "Luke Glendening is a rare person who has an unbelievable will and work ethic combined with an unbelievable ability to get better at things. He never played center before, but he improved his face-offs to be one of the best face-off guys in the league. I believe he will not be denied the opportunity to play in the National Hockey League." (Glendening is not under contract with Detroit, but that is expected to change very soon.) Tomas Tatar (LW): "Tats is extremely competitive, tough and highly skilled for being a smaller player (5-10 182 pounds). Like all of our prospects, they have to fit into a puzzle and thats obviously Ken Hollands job. Tats has the ability, with continued improvement, to become an NHL player." Tomas Jurco (RW): "Jurco has gone from being a highly skilled player to being a very good player, theres a huge difference. Early in the year he was a skilled player that necessarily didnt know how to play winning hockey. Now hes a winning hockey player thats extremely talented." Gustav Nyquist (RW): "The biggest thing Id say about Gus is that hes extremely talented. Hes a great locker-room guy, a great character guy that people may not understand the impact hes had on this team (Grand Rapids). When he came back, it was a big factor in us being here (Calder Cup Final) today." Riley Sheahan (C): "Riley is an extremely good defensive player who has offensive ability as well, but what Ive loved about him is that hes very, very accountable. As Riley improves the physicality of his game, Riley will have a real good opportunity to be an NHL player." Landon Ferraro (C): "Landon has had a real good year, a breakout year in the American League. He has great speed, he has a great shot and he can score goals. His element of speed is transferable to the NHL. Lando has had injury problems and has gone through this year, knock on wood, fairly unscathed. As he continues to develop, he has an opportunity." Danny DeKeyser (D):" Danny, when he stepped into Detroit, showed he can be a very good defenseman at the NHL level. He did it at the hardest time of the year, at the end of the year and into the playoffs. I know they (Red Wing brass) were real pleased with his ability to defend, his ability to move the puck." (Blashill recruited and coached DeKeyser at Western Michigan.) Joakim Andersson (C): "Joakim was on the Swedish world junior team, so hes done a lot of good things. The question mark was his skating, but a guy like Joakim can overcome that because hes really, really smart. He has an unbelievable will and he has lots of ability with the puck. He showed this year, that he can be a national hockey league-er." Calle Jarnkrok (C): "When Calle was here, (he played nine games for the Griffins) it was a good experience for him to see that everything happens quicker in North American hockey. Hes going to take that lesson and apply it this summer to get better at those things. With added strength, hes an extremely smart hockey player with extremely good skills. He needs to add strength to his body." Teemu Pulkkinen (RW): "Pulkkinen has a real good shot, the hard part for these guys (European players) is that they come in and they havent learned the systems. Once he becomes comfortable with the systems, it will allow his ability. He has a real ability to shoot a puck and thats what hes going to have to rely on to be an impact player." Certainly, the Wings have many prospects that have a chance to make it in the NHL, but as we can draw from Blashills critiques, most of Detroits future players still need to work on their game before donning the Red Wing sweater.
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