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Red Wings of Tomorrow: Owen Mehlenbacher

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Owen Mehlenbacher, Detroit Red Wings'

Red Wings of Tomorrow is assessing every prospect in the Detroit Red Wings system and what they are projecting to be in the future. We’ll be looking at the strengths and weaknesses of their game, as well as what the future holds for them as they advance through the Detroit organization. Today, we look at center Owen Mehlenbacher

Owen Mehlenbacher

Position: Center

How Acquired: 201st overall pick (7th round) in 2022 Draft

2021-22 Stats: (GP-G-A-Pts) 56-24-17-41 (Muskegon Lumberjacks, USHL)

Contract Status: Unsigned

Anticipated 2022-23 Team: University of Wisconsin

Prospect Synopsis

Whether Owen Mehlenbacher is in the classroom, on the ice, or making a life choice, he likes to make educated decisions.

Mehlenbacher told the Wisconsin State Journal that he looked at six different colleges over a full year before settling on Wisconsin.

“It took a while and was a lot of things to consider because it’s pretty much the rest of your life that you’re dealing with here,” he said.

As the statement would suggest, Mehlenbacher is dedicated to the idea of being all that he can be in hockey and life. He was named to the USHL All-Academic team in 2020-21.

A slow start kept him off many of the ranking lists. He was not ranked by the NHL’s Central Scouting, but the Red Wings appreciated his improvement as the season wore on. Mehlenbacher can skate, play a two-way game and knows how to use his big frame.

Detroit Red Wings director of Amateur Scouting Kris Draper took note of Mehlenbacher when he started to play impressively well in the second half of the season. The 6-foot-2 forward is from Fort Erie, Ontario played in the Buffalo Junior Sabres program.

Estimated Time of Arrival in Detroit

Mehlenbacher said the primary reason why he went to Wisconsin was to be coached by former NHL player and coach Tony Granato. That could have influenced the Red Wings in deciding to draft Mehlenbacher.

Granato is a former Detroit Red Wings assistant coach, and has a strong reputation as a coach who can develop players. Mehlenbacher can skate, play a two-way game and knows how to use his 6-foot-2 frame.

It took Mehlenbacher a while to get comfortable in the USHL. He could also have an adjustment period in college. Mehlenbacher has thought about that. Of course he has.

“Jumping from minor hockey to junior hockey, I found that time and space changes and it’s very dramatic in that sense,” Mehlenbacher told the Wisconsin State News. “So going from junior hockey to college, I can just imagine how much of a difference that will be.”

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The Red Wings won’t be in a rush to pull Mehlenbacher out of school. They will give him time to develop. Even if he stayed three seasons in Madison and turned pro in 2025, he would only be three or four months past his 21st birthday.

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