Now in its 21st season, one NHL prospect tournament in 2019 returns to Traverse City, Michigan. This tournament consists of eight teams all fielding prospect players. It also marks the start of the local Detroit Red Wings season, with training camp following immediately afterward. What could the result mean going forward for the struggling Detroit Red Wings?

The NHL Prospect Tournament 2019; Teams and Format

The teams are; Red Wings, Chicago Blackhawks, the defending tournament-champion Columbus Blue Jackets, Dallas Stars, Minnesota Wild, New York Rangers, St. Louis Blues and Toronto Maple Leafs, who will participate in the tournament for the first time, replacing the Carolina Hurricanes.

The format sees the eight teams split into two divisions, following a round-robin format. A final day cross over and the first-place finishers of each division battling it out to be crowned champions; taking home the Matthew Wuest Memorial Cup.

Previous Prospect Tournament Players

Over 600 players who have featured in the tournament have moved onto play at least one game in the NHL. From the 2018-19 Red Wings team, 23 of the 38 players had previously participated. Dylan Larkin, Tyler Bertuzzi, Anthony Mantha, Andreas Antanasiou, Justin Abdelkader, Jimmy Howard, and Nikolas Kronwall, for example, have all previously represented.

Larking, Bertuzzi and Mantha as NHL Detroit Red Wings. Mantha and Bertuzzi played on the 2013 winning team
2013 NHL Prospects Tournament winners Bertuzzi and Mantha with Larkin representing the Detroit Red Wings in the NHL. Image, Detroit free press

Detroit Red Wings Win the NHL Prospects Tournament 2019

Detroit Red Wings, the tournament winners came from behind with four third-period goals to beat the Dallas Stars 6-5. With just over five minutes played in the third Detroit trailed Dallas 4-2 and the story did not look good.

Some impressive Power Play skills and an incredible resilience helped the Red Wings to fight back; securing the trophy for the first time since 2013. The Red Wings scored four goals after the Stars took a two-goal lead, providing them a 6-4 lead. Stars pulled their netminder and were able to score a goal in the final minute of play. Exceptional goaltending from Sean Romeo meant the Red Wings could hold on till the final buzzer.

Detroit Red Wings Win the NHL Prospect Tournament
Detroit Red Wings win the 2019 NHL Prospect Tournament. Image, NHL.com

The Red Wings scored 24 goals in four games to lead the tournament in goals scored, but it was their prowess on the power play which led them to the title.

Several Red Wings players were among the tournament leaders in several categories. However, it was the Red Wings team-first mindset which allowed them to overcome each adversity they faced.

Could This Tournament Win Signal Success Is Again on the Horizon for the Detroit Red Wings?

In all four games, the Red Wings trailed in the tournament but ended 3-0-1 in capturing the organization’s second tournament title. Tremendous resilience kick-started the team as they found another gear. A combination of sheer grit and skill-full plays helped the team to bounce back from the verge of collapse.

Of course, previous success in the tournament has not lead to immediate success for the Reg Wings. With 2017 seeing the playoff streak end, and 2008 was the last time the franchise lifted the Stanley Cup.

The organization has lost big-name players as Datsyuk and Zetterberg have retired from the NHL. Many previous standout tournament players now lead the future of the organization to what many hope is better days. These young players have been supported and continue to grow, taking on key roles within the team. The prospects continue to develop with the key qualities they possess continuing to come to assist the franchise.

Many Red Wings fans will hope this new group can also develop in a similar vein; eventually aiding the club to return to challenge for the Stanley Cup but this will not happen overnight.

The Future for the Detroit Red Wings Prospect Players – What Happens Next?

Many will have rested before joining the Detroit Red Wings training camp, and many will at some point play in the NHL, likely for the Red Wings. However, a good number will also play in the AHL and a few the ECHL.

Stand out players from the tournament included; Joe Veleno, Givani Smith and Ryan Kuffner.

“I think he’s just a big boy. He’s got some skill. He works hard in the corners, skates well and guys are scared of him, so he’s always got the puck. He makes room for the guys on his line. When we have time and space with the puck, it’s always nice. He opens the game up for us a lot.” 

Red Wings prospect Joe Velenco discussing team mate Givani Smith
Givani Smith
Red Wings prospect Givani Smith. Image credit nhl.com

“He’s had to work for the opportunities he’s had. Joe realizes he’s not going to be given anything, he’s going to have to work for it and I think that’s his biggest attribute. You look and you see he’s a pretty skilled hockey player but I don’t think people realize how hard of a worker he is and kind of a character player he is.” 

Ben Simon, Detroit prospect tournament and AHL Grand Rapids Griffins coach commenting on Joe Velenco
Joe Velenco
Red Wings prospect Joe Veleno. Image credit, mihockey.com

“He’s an infectious kid, he’s got a good personality to him. He’s got a heck of a shot, you can see that in practice and on the ice, he’s got one heck of a release on his shot. So hopefully you’ll continue to see that at the next levels.” 

Ben Simon, Detroit prospect tournament and AHL Grand Rapids Griffins coach commenting on Ryan Kuffner
Ryan Kuffner
Red Wings prospect Ryan Kuffner. Image credit, nhl.com

For More Information

Further information regarding the tournament, NHL, AHL, and Detroit Red Wings can be found by following the links below;

NHL Prospects Tournament 2019
National Hockey League
American Hockey League
ABNT AHL 2019-20 fixture preview
Detroit Red Wings

Do I Think the Red Wings Are Turning a Corner?

Personal opinion – I think the future is promising for not just the Red Wings but for sports teams in Detroit full stop. The developments continue in the district area and the sense of community continues to grow amongst all fans.

The Red Wings continue to develop promising young players, having a proven pedigree. While the team continues to progress they still find themselves lacking at key points when experience can matter almost as much as raw talent.

I think the future will see former prospect tournament player, MI local Dylan Larkin captain the team and the Red Wings will again see success; lifting the Stanley Cup. However, I don’t think this will be immediate, more of five year, long term plan kind of thing!

Dylan Larkin
Detroit Red Wings, Dylan Larkin. Image credit, nhl.com

Feature image credit: centreice.org