Each year, after the NHL Draft, the Red Wings (and all the other teams in the league) invite a handful of undrafted free agents to their rookie and/or main training camps. It’s via this method that the Wings signed undrafted talent like Brian Lashoff, Willie Coetzee, Trevor Parkes, and Brent Raedeke. You shouldn’t expect this year to be any different, and there are a couple of guys that I’ve got my eye on who were on my list, but didn’t get selected over this past weekend’s seven rounds.
Denis Kamaev – F – Rouyn-Noranda Huskies (QMJHL)
Mock drafts had him as high as the second round, and some early mocks even had him going in the first. His biggest downfall is that he’s Russian, and if we learned anything in this year’s Draft, it was that NHL teams were terrified of their prospects jumping ship and chasing dollars in the KHL — despite the fact that most of the ones in question, including Kamaev, are doing their best to show dedication to staying in North America by coming to play in Canadian Junior leagues. He’s not a big guy, but he scored nearly a point-per-game in the Q.
Anton Slepyshev – F – Metallurg Novokuznetsk (KHL)
Building on the “Russian Factor” mentioned above, Slepyshev’s situation is compounded since he’s already playing in the KHL. He was Russia’s captain at the 2012 World Junior Championship and was ranked tenth among European skaters heading into the Draft, making him the highest ranked player not to be selected. But the KHL thing was clearly a turnoff for all thirty clubs. But there’s no harm in offering him an invitation to training camp, since those players don’t count against your salary cap, your reserve list, your 50-man contract limit, or anything else until they’re officially signed to an NHL contract.
Gustav Rydahl – F – Frolunda (Sweden)
Another big body (6-3, 198), Rydahl was the 36th ranked European skater available. Described as a fierce competitor, he’s a two-way guy that has excellent ice-vision, the kind of qualities that the Wings love in their forwards.
Matt Rupert – F – London Knights (OHL)
When the sixth round came around, the Maple Leafs had back-to-back picks (156 and 157). I thought for sure that Brian Burke would take a pair of twins, as he had in Vancouver several years ago. Instead, Burke selected one twin, Ryan, while the other went undrafted. Matt will get an invitation to Leafs training camp, it sounds like, but I’m sure he’s disappointed he wasn’t selected like his brother was. They’re teammates with Wings’ fourth round pick Andreas Athanasiou in London, and were relied upon very heavily during the Memorial Cup playoffs. They’re both excellent hockey players, so Burke may have been wise to select them both with those back-to-back selections. Maybe he’s not interested in following his brother to Toronto and will be looking for his own opportunity somewhere.
UPDATE: Will attend Maple Leafs camp.
Andrew Ryan – F – Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)
The Wings’ first pick, Martin Frk, is Ryan’s teammate in Halifax. And like Frk, Ryan missed a good chunk of this past season with an injury, which — I’m sure — played into his being passed up among NHL teams. He was ranked above a lot of kids that were selected in the late rounds, so someone’s going to invite him to camp, to be sure.
Kristoff Kontos – F – Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors (OHL)
If that name sounds familiar, it’s because his father — Chris Kontos — played for four different NHL clubs. The younger Kontos split last season between the Sudbury Wolves (where papa also played) and the Majors, but had his best offensive season in the OHL yet. He’s one of the older guys that was available in the Draft (having missed the cutoff for the 2011 Draft by a couple months).
Austin Czarnik – F – University of Miami
Don’t expect him to be signed, since he can’t do so without leaving school, but he’s a Detroiter and went undrafted, so he’ll be looking for somewhere to skate this summer.
Dane Fox – F – Erie Otters (OHL)
You may be able to scratch him off the list already. The 46th ranked North American skater was invited to Rangers camp.
UPDATE: Will attend Rangers camp.
Nathan Walker – F – Viktovice (Czech Republic)
How’s this for a story: Nathan Walker, who had a storybook Spengler Cup, was attempting to become the first Australian player to be drafted in NHL history. Unfortunately, he fell short, despite being ranked 25th among European skaters (he plays in the Czech Republic). Maybe teams were turned off by the fact that he doesn’t play against big-time talent, but here’s hoping he gets a chance with an NHL club.
Michael Houser – G – London Knights (OHL)
Another teammate of Andreas Athanasiou, Houser has been passed over in three separate NHL Drafts. We were hoping that someone would call his name over the weekend because he’s a Pittsburgh native and that would have been an awesome story to tell. The truth of the matter is that goaltenders are a little more easily available after the Draft than other position players, particularly when they’re 20. Someone will have him camp, you can bank on it.
Nikita Tryamkin – D – Yekateringburg (Russia)
The Wings took the tallest player drafted over the weekend (Rasmus Bodin) after Jim Nill said they were going to go bigger than usual. Tryamkin is playing for Datsyuk’s hometown in Russia (RED FLAG!), but he’s absolutely gigantic at 6-6, 220. He’s not afraid to drop the gloves, so maybe it’s a dynamic teams felt they could get without using a pick on it.
Max Iafrate – D – Kitchener Rangers (OHL)
With three picks in the seventh round, I thought for sure that the Washington Capitals would swoop in and take Al’s boy with one of them. Alas, they didn’t. And neither did anyone else somehow. The 70th ranked North American skater is from Livonia, and grew up playing for Belle Tire before hopping to the OHL’s Plymouth Whalers (he’s since been traded). He’s 6-2, 220… I simply don’t have any idea why he wasn’t picked.
UPDATE: Will attend Washington Capitals camp.
Cody Corbett – D – Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL)
An American kid with decent size (6-0, 210), his top quality is a great outlet pass. With the retirements of both Brian Rafalski and Nicklas Lidstrom, the Wings are going to be doing an awful lot of outlet passing in practice. Obviously, this guy won’t be taking over anytime soon, but when it’s time to restock, it’s time to restock.
Alex Gudbranson – D – Kingston Frontenacs (OHL)
His brother Erik was drafted third overall in 2010, but he was no lock to hear his name called in Pittsburgh. He came into the Draft ranked 161st among North Americans, and despite excellent size (6-2, 206), he was passed over for seven rounds. Maybe he ends up in Florida camp along side big brother.
Photo Credits: Kamaev: Francis Vachon; Slepyshev: KHL; Rydahl: Okand; Rupert: London Community News; Ryan: Mike Dembeck; Kontos: OHL Images; Czarnik: Dave Arnold, USA Hockey; Fox: Aaron Bell, OHL Images; Walker: Blick.ch; Houser: Mathieu Belanger, Reuters; Tryamkin: Lelikus; Iafrate: OHL Images; Corbett: Amber Bracken, Edmonton Sun; Gudbranson: Simon Seguin-Bertrand, Ledroit