We at Winged Pride had the opportunity to talk to Ryan Sproul and pick his brain a little bit. Winged Pride is very excited about the group down in Grand Rapids and can't wait to see what these guys do when they make it up with the Wings.
Ryan Sproul was the Red Wings 3rd draft choice(55th overall) in the 2011 draft. Sproul was playing juniors in the OHL with the Sault. Ste. Marie Greyhounds. When asked about his time there Ryan said, "It was a tough year coming into the league late," Ryan had played in a lower level junior league for the beginning of the year to preserve his NCAA eligibility but ultimately scrapped that plan and came in to play in OHL shortly after, "but I took off around Christmas and everything went uphill. I started getting more ice time and coach started playing me more in high pressure situations." Sproul became a very effective defenseman that year. He had 33 points in 61 games, despite not registering a point for his first 17 games. Stats aren't really all that useful to judge defenseman since they are usually used to stop goals rather than get them. Scouts say that the sky is the limit for him, he needs to fill out and he needs to be more physical but they expect that should come with time in the weight room. In October of 2012 Jiri Fischer(director of player development) had this to say about him, "He's a dominant go-to offensive power-play guy who I think is offensively as good as anyone in major junior hockey. He still has a lot of work to do in the D-zone and all-around game and how to be a little harder to play against."(quote courtesy of redwingscentral.com) That is pretty high praise that should make Red Wing fans excited about his future with the team.
One of the most interesting things about the Red Wings is the way they develop players. They give the players retired NHLers as role models and mentors. Ryan's mentors are are Chris Chelios and Jiri Fischer. He said quite a bit about their involvement in his development process, "They're around pretty often...which is amazing considering what else those guys could be doing...I try to look at a guy like Chelios and try to play my game like he did. I try to play between him and Lidstrom. Play defense and offense and be reliable to my coach...everything those guys say I try to incorporate into my game." The mentors seem to be working. The young guys are getting great exposure to a lot of established players who can relate to the young guys and be a different voice from a coach or trainer. These guys have done it. They know the struggles, the sacrifices and everything that it takes to play on that level. They can instill the work ethic and motivation that is necessary to play at that high level way better than any other person could.
We talked about Ryan's interactions with the Red Wings coaches and other people involved at the higher levels of the organization and they don't micromanage him or give him strict schedules. As far as strict advice Ryan had this to say, "Just keep going, they know that I know that I have faith and trust in the process. I am just gonna do what they want me to do...I want to start in the NHL as soon as I possibly can. I also know at the same time that there is a process and they develop their players very well. I want to follow that process so i can be in the NHL for more than just one or two years. Its amazing to be a part of this organization. It's overwhelming. I want to be up there. I also realize that it is going to take some time but it is going to be well worth it."
Tomorrow we will finish up our positional analysis with the Defenseman where we go more in depth into Ryan Sproul.
Winged Pride would like to give a big thank you to Ryan Sproul for giving us his time. We wish him the best of luck on his journey to the NHL. We look forward to tracking his career.