NHL Draft: Detroit Red Wings Nab First Round Talent in the Second Round

By Rhys Richards (@RREsq)

In this weekend’s 2012 NHL Entry Draft, the Detroit Red Wings waited until the 49th overall pick in the second round to make the team’s first selection. The extended wait was due to the team trading its first round pick to acquire defenseman Kyle Quincey at the Trade Deadline, but time could prove that the wait was worth it.

With the 49th overall selection, the Red Wings took Martin Frk (pronounced Ferk). Ever lauded for the organization’s ability to judge young prospects, Detroit may have once again found a diamond in the rough that could have been worthy of a first round selection.

Frk is an 18-year-old right winger from the Czech Republic, though he played each of the last two seasons with Halifax in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. Frk would likely have been drafted in the first round but for a concussion that sidelined him for much of this past season.

Detroit’s director of player development, former Red Wings defenseman and fellow Czech Jiri Fischer, recommended the hard-shooting right winger. Fischer served as an assistant coach for the Czechs at the 2011 World Junior Championship. In fact, Fischer pushed the Czech team to try Frk at the point on the top powerplay unit, a position at which he flourished.

Fischer told the Detroit Free Press, “Before the season, I believe [Frk] was a top-15 pick.”  He added, “Every shift he works, works, works. He really can finish. He’s got a good shot. He’s not afraid to shoot. He’s got enough confidence to shoot it.”

NHL Central Scouting ranked Frk 20th among North American skaters going into the Draft.

In 2010-2011, Frk contributed 22 goals and 28 assists in 62 games for Halifax. At the Wrold Junior Championship, he added three goals in six games to lead the Czech team in scoring as its youngest player.

While Fischer believes that Frk needs to work on his speed, he thinks highly of the young Czech. As he told the Detroit Free Press, “He can play the point on the power play. He can find loose pucks around the net. Relentless on the forecheck. He really [has] second effort hunting pucks down, even after 50-50 battles.”

Unfortunately, a concussion sidelined Frk early last season. He had contributed 16 goals and 13 assists in 34 regular-season games. As a result of the injury, he could not play for the Czech team again at the 2012 World Juniors, though he did return for the QMJHL playoffs to add five goals and six assists in 17 playoff games.

Frk no longer has headaches and appears primed to pick up where his season began in 2011-2012.

The young Czech wears number 91 to honor his childhood idol Sergei Federov, thus his excitement about joining the Detroit organization that drafted and cultivated Federov is understandable. Initially, Frk was surprised that Detroit selected him because the team did not interview him at the Draft Combine.

After being selected by Detroit, Frk said, “I don’t know what to say. Big day for me. Detroit’s a great team. I’m happy. They have great team, little bit older team, but I think it’s great team.”

If and when Frk makes it to the show, a few current Red Wings will probably remember the “older” bit. Given Frk’s grit and penchant for physical play, those same Red Wings might soon forgive the 6-foot, 198-pound power forward.

Rhys’ Rants: Former Red Wing and current NHL czar of punishment Brendan Shanahan is expected to get the call to the Hall of Fame tomorrow afternoon. Shanahan highlights a list that includes legend Joe Sakic, Jeremy Roenick, Mats Sundin, and former teammate Curtis Joseph. Holdover candidates include Eric Lindros, one-time Red Wing Adam Oates, Kevin Lowe, Pavel Bure, and Dave Andreychuk.

Like Sakic, Shanahan was a first round pick in 1987. Shanahan scored 656 goals and posted 1,354 points in 1,524 games over 21 seasons. He played for the Devils, Blues, Whalers, Red Wings and Rangers before returning to New Jersey for his final season. Shanahan’s ability to score goals while sticking up for his teammates defined his power forward persona.

Shanahan won three Stanley Cups with Detroit in 1997, 1998, and 2002. He also won Olympic gold with Team Canada in 2002. He is the only player in NHL history with more than 600 goals and 2,000 penalty minutes (2,489).

Detroit fans appreciated Shanahan’s clutch scoring, but they fell in love with him in part for his involvement in the infamous 2007 brawl with the Colorado Avalanche. Shanahan ran into Patrick Roy at full speed as the goaltender skated out to the aid of the turtling Claude Lemieux.

Later that season, Detroit snubbed the Avalanche in the Western Conference playoffs in route to the organization’s first Stanley Cup since 1955.

Shanahan was a difference maker for the Red Wings and he deserves the enter the Hall with the applause of all hockey fans, no matter their feelings on his decisions in his current role as head of the NHL’s Department of Player Safety.

Statistics and other information obtained at www.hockeydb.com and www.nhl.com.

Share your thoughts about the NHL, the Detroit Red Wings, and hockey in general with Rhys at Twitter: @RREsq.  He can be reached via email at RhysJRichards@gmail.com.  Join the many fans of The Hockey Guys on Facebook and Twitter @TheHockeyGuys

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