Futures mailbag: Which 2015 draft picks are going straight to the show?

Jack Eichel and Connor McDavid (Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)

Welcome back to my mailbag, where all manner of questions on prospects and the draft are answered. If you have something you want to know about, hit me up on Twitter at @THNRyanKennedy and hashtag it #thnfutures. You might see the question here in a couple weeks.

In the meantime, let’s get to the latest round of inquiries, the first of which is very timely:

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Watch Teemu Pulkkinen score after perfect alley-oop pass from Tyler Bertuzzi

Jared Clinton
Tyler Bertuzzi's alley-oop pass to Teemu Pulkkinen. (via NHL/YouTube)

When it comes to watching offensive creativity, Detroit Red Wings fans have been spoiled over the past decade. After all, there are few players who are more fun to watch with the puck on his stick than Pavel Datsyuk. But Tyler Bertuzzi got Red Wings fans out of their seats Thursday night.

Early in the third period, with Detroit already leading 4-0 in their pre-season tilt against the Pittsburgh Penguins, Bertuzzi took a pass on the left wing in the Red Wings’ zone. With eyes on Teemu Pulkkinen streaking up the right wing, Bertuzzi hoisted the puck into the air, up over the Penguins defenders and right onto the tape of Pulkkinen, who made no mistake and buried the partial-breakaway tally.

When it comes to alley-oop passes, this might be the best one the NHL has seen yet: Read more

Red Wings’ Helm sidelined for 2-4 weeks following violent training camp collision

Jared Clinton
Darren Helm

Detroit Red Wings winger Darren Helm has had a hard time staying healthy over the past four seasons and already it appears Helm will be missing some time once the 2015-16 campaign gets underway.

At the opening day of Red Wings training camp Friday, Helm, 28, collided viciously with undrafted winger Jerome Verrier, 21.

“They were both going at a pretty high speed and they were both going in an opposite direction,” Holland said. “Somebody went in the wrong lane and they were both going at full speed. Neither had a chance to brace, they just collided.” Read more

Futures mailbag: Pulkkinen’s pull, Meier’s chances and more

Teemu Pulkkinen (Photo by Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images)

Welcome back to the Futures mailbag, where prospects and the draft are always in the spotlight. We’re getting into real games these days and the All-American Prospects Game hits Buffalo next Thursday, so we can officially say it’s hockey season. Remember: if you have a question you would like answered, hit up my Twitter page (@THNRyanKennedy) and tag your query with the hashtag #thnfutures. Let’s get to it:

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The biggest and best prospects from Traverse City

Kerby Rychel (Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

TRAVERSE CITY, MICH. – Another tourney is in the books, as the Columbus Blue Jackets defending their Traverse City prospects tournament title with a 5-2 win over the home team Detroit Red Wings. There was a lot of talent again this year, so I’ve put together mini scouting reports on many of the big names, plus others who caught my eye.

I was at two days of games, watching double-headers that were staggered between two rinks in the same building. So I saw more of some teams than others, though I tried to keep it even. If you don’t see your fave player here, it’s because he didn’t catch me eye enough – which is not to say he didn’t play well, but rather that there were a lot of prospects in play and I wouldn’t want to pretend to see more than I did.

Also, some teams had a lot of free agents on their squads since NCAA players couldn’t participate due to eligibility issues and some teams don’t have deep prospect pools right now. Chicago and the Rangers – both in contender mode right now – are two examples. They fought for last place, so we’ll start with them and work our way up to the champs.

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Red Wings prospect Mantha taking classes in NHL’s School of Hard Knocks

Ken Campbell
Anthony Mantha  (Photo by Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images)

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. – This time last year, there was a real possibility Anthony Mantha would be one of the few players who would make the jump to the Detroit Red Wings out of junior hockey. Now nobody’s sure if that jump will even take place this season.

None of this should come as a surprise. The Red Wings have always preferred to let their prospects over-ripen in the American League and it’s a philosophy that has served them well. No team has produced NHL-ready prospects out of the minors the way the Red Wings have over the past decade. Even when the prospect is a tantalizing 6-foot-5 and has a sublime skill level and a nose for the net, these things take time.

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Concussion spotters a great idea that could be better

Ken Campbell
Ryane Clowe (right) and Mark Scheifele (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. – The best thing you can say about the NHL employing concussion spotters beginning this season is that it’s a good start. It doesn’t go near far enough yet, but it adds another layer of identification it didn’t have before.

According to Renaud Lavoie of TVA Sports, the league will introduce spotters at all of its 1,230 games this season whose sole purpose will be to watch for visible signs of concussions and alert training staffs. The NHL will employ two spotters per game, but the actual spotting will largely be done by people who work for the teams. NHL teams will have one designated person both at home and on the road who will be close to the bench watching for players showing signs of concussions.

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AHL Logo Ranking: No. 6 – Grand Rapids Griffins

Jared Clinton
Grand Rapids Griffins logo (via SportsLogos.net/Chris Creamer)

(The AHL has undergone a season of change and one-third of the league has changed locations or logos for the 2015-16 season. Leading up to the new season, The Hockey News will be ranking the logos of the league’s teams and offering a brief look at the history of each franchise. See the rest of the rankings in our AHL feed.)

As the AHL affiliate of the Detroit Red Wings, the expectations for the Grand Rapids Griffins are high. And slowly, like Red Wings, the Griffins are becoming a consistent playoff threat thanks to the deep talent pool the Red Wings have assembled.

It helps that the Red Wings’ developmental strategy allows young players to grow in the AHL for a few seasons before making the jump to the NHL, and it’s turned the Griffins into an ultra-competitive team over the past three seasons.

This past season, the club made the Western Conference final for the second time in three campaigns, and with a stable of returnees that could include Andy Miele, Landon Ferraro, Anthony Mantha, Mitch Callahan, Mark Zengerle and Tomas Nosek, there aren’t many things to worry about in Grand Rapids. Even on the backend, the only major change will be the potential addition of Robbie Russo.

The only real loss is that of Kevin Porter, who signed with the Pittsburgh Penguins. But Porter has been replaced with Eric Tangradi, who notched 14 goals and 31 points in 48 AHL games in 2014-15.

As far as concerns, goaltending could be one area where the Griffins aren’t as strong as other top competitors. Jared Coreau could stand to take the top AHL spot from Tom McCollum this season after outplaying his AHL counterpart in 2014-15, but if Coreau takes a step back, McCollum will be the Griffins’ best hope between the pipes. Read more