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Despite consistently drafting in the lower third of the draft the Red Wings have been able to build a group of dynamic young players. This is going to be an ongoing series on Winged Pride where we discuss all the players at each position and what the possibilities will be.
We are going to start out with the Centers. We are going to talk about the top 3 for this article, Calle Jarnkrok, Riley Sheahan and Landon Ferraro. I would call center the Red Wings' weakest position. This is a solid group of guys but outside of Jarnkrok there isn't a lot of great potential here. Let's go over each one and figure out what they bring to the Wings.
Jarnkrok is by far their best center prospect. He is a typical Sweedish player, plays a really strong two way game with great vision and passing ability. He plays similarly to Henrik Zetterberg. I am not going to say he is going to be as effective as Zetterberg, but I am going to say quite comfortably that he will be a top 6 center in the next 5 years for the Red Wings.
Riley Sheahan is probably the biggest mystery out of the three of them. He plays a fantastic defensive and transitional game. However he lacks the ability to score which is something a top 6 center needs to do. His ceiling places him as a top 6 center, however his floor is quite high as well at a bottom 6 center. One of the good things about Sheahan is that he is a sure prospect. It would be very surprising if he doesn't ever play a consistent center role in the NHL in the next 3 years. It wouldn't surprise me however if he doesn't stick with the Wings organization. This is Sheahan's last year free of waiver exemption and the Wings will have to decide what they want to do with him in the coming year. There will be a few more open spots on the roster next year. Cleary will be almost surely be gone, as will Samuelsson. I would get rid of Bertuzzi but I'm not sure Holland will. His role is easily replaced by Abdelkader however I am not sure Holland or Babcock have faith in him to play that role effectively. The Wings will have, in my estimation, anywhere from 1-3 open roster spots next year. They will also have around 12 million in cap space to spend on free agents if they like anyone. The Wings might feel like spending that money on someone like Thomas Vanek, Matt Moulson, or Marian Gaborik. I would love to get a guy like Moulson or Vanek to play on the second line with Weiss and Franzen. If Sheahan is to play with the Wings next year he is going to have to play extremely well and beat out Landon Ferraro, who happens to be the next prospect on our list.
Landon Ferraro has an almost identical skill set to Darren Helm. He has great speed which allows him to draw a lot of penalties and create opportunities. Ferraro is also a great penalty killer. He plays on the 1st kill unit for the Griffins and he led the team in shorthanded goals last year. Ferraro is an energetic dynamic player who projects to look a lot like Helm going forward. He is in the same boat as Sheahan as this is his last year of waiver exemption before the team either promotes him or they risk losing him. The Wings have a decent stable of good young Centers, only time will tell what they turn into and what the roster will look like going forward.