The draft has come and gone, I've started a new job that has rendered me busier than I've spent a summer in years, and I've once again been slacking on coverage. Expect a post soon on the status of the newest Red Wings - although my Wings blogger fellows have given the matter ample coverage in the meantime, should be starving for something to read.
Watching the new little draftlings take the stage, I realized we've heard little on the status of last year's acquisitions and thus decided to do a little digging and figure out what they've all been up to:
Brendan Smith (1st round; 27th overall)
Brendan Smith, like Jon Ericsson, had converted to playing defense not all that long ago, and he even skated as a fourth line forward in his last game with Wisconsin Badgers (NCAA) this season.
Of course, that game was his first back after suffering a back injury (a "bulging disc" - serious ow) that cost him the majority of the season. He scored six points in his first four games, and ten after the first seven before sitting out more than half of the season. Very unfortunate considering the potential the season had for him, but Smith hasn't given up and will be back with the Badgers next year.
Wisconsin Badgers (CCHA): 22 GP, 2 G, 10A
Joakim Andersson (3rd round; 88th overall)
Andersson played with three separate teams last year, moving between Boras of the Swedish second level league, and Frolunda, both the under 20 junior league team and Swedish Elite League. While he looks to have made little impact in the elite league, he'd only played one game at that level before this season, and cearly tore up the J20 league scoresheets, so perhaps Andersson just needs the time to accustom himself to the higher levels, where he should earn a full time spot next season.
Boras (Swe-2): 33 GP, 6 G, 17 A
Frolunda (Swe-J20): 6 GP, 8G, 2 A
Frolunda (Swe): 9 GP, 1 G, 0A
Randy Cameron (5th round; 148th overall)
Randy Cameron played with Moncton of the QMJHL, putting up 39 points in 62 regular season games (the Wildcats missed the playoffs), the same point total as last season. In fact, he scored 5 less goals (and made up for them in assists), showing little offensive improvement. He was one of Moncton's leading scorers, but then again, Moncton was a rebuilding team with a 21-34-5-10 record (second worst in the QMJHL). )
Moncton Wildcats (QMJHL): 62 GP, 12 G, 37 A
Zach Torquato (6th round; 178th overall)
Zach Torquato was the most visible of the Wings' 07 draft picks, owing to the amateur tryout he had with the Grand Rapids Griffins. He began the season resuming his role with a struggling Lake Erie (whom he captains at the age of 18) and still managed to notch a point per game (67 in 66 games). From my experience watching him in Grand Rapids (meaning this part is purely an opinion) he's a very slight guy, and he looks smart out on the ice and is great at putting the puck in the net (twice this season he scored two shorthanded goals in game) but he isn't as fast as you'd expect for someone smaller (he is 6', but certainly looks smaller on the ice), and doesn't skate all that well. His point a game pace in Erie dropped to 1 in 11 when he moved up to Grand Rapids, but he certainly showed flashes of promise as well. Torquato was Detroit's highest-scoring junior prospect this past season. Look for him to perhaps return with Grand Rapids next season?
Lake Erie Otters (OHL): 66 GP, 25 G, 42 A
Grand Rapids Griffins (AHL): 11 GP, 1 G, 0 A
Bryan Rufenach (Round 7; 208th overall)
The Wings went off the chart to draft Rufenach, who had played just a handful (although he was a point per game player in 06/07) of games for the Lindsay Muskies the year before. This year he played on scholarship for Clarckson in the NCAA. He's been compared to Niklas Kronwall in terms of skating but unlike Kronwall nothing about his season seemed particularly remarkable. He was, however, only a freshman, and didn't receive a whole lot of ice time, which will likelky be improved upon as he is now a sophomore.Certainly a lot of room for improvement - but the kids seem to be doing all right. After all, Jonathan Ericsson didn't jump from Mr. Irrelevant to a top four projected defenseman overnight, either.
Clarkson (NCAA) 35 GP, 3 G, 3 A
Next up - the newest Red Wings.