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Tony Wolak The Hockey Writers

Published on Wednesday, March 4, 2020

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State of the Red Wings’ Prospect Pipeline

With the trade deadline in the rear view mirror, Steve Yzerman and the Detroit Red Wings can now turn their attention to the 2020 NHL Draft. In all, the Red Wings have ten picks this year, with six likely coming in the first 70 selections of the draft.

While the organization usually chooses the best player available, the Red Wings should consider their depth at each position when evaluating their options. There’s already a sound foundation in place.

“Detroit’s system is well stocked, running more than 20 players deep. I’m not sure they have exceeded expectations at the draft, though. They’ve done well but they’ve also had more picks in the last three years than any other NHL team and there are some amateur scouting departments that have done more with less.”

Scott Wheeler (from ‘Wheeler’s 2020 NHL prospect pool rankings: No. 9 Detroit Red Wings’ – The Athletic NHL – 2/4/20)

But how does their pipeline look from a positional standpoint? Let’s take a look at Detroit’s 21-and-under prospects and find out.

Forwards

In previous years, I’ve reviewed Detroit’s prospect depth by position – left wings, centers, and right wings. This year, I’m going to take a different approach since forwards tend to move around in the lineup. 

Filip Zadina of the Detroit Red Wings
Filip Zadina is Detroit’s best 21-and-under forward. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Remember venn diagrams? We’re going to do that, except I’m not going to draw circles because my artistic skill per 60 is below league average by at least two standard deviations.

Essentially, centers are forwards, but not all forwards are centers. It takes a certain skill set to play up the middle. You need to have the awareness to cover down low with the defensemen and create opportunities around the net in the offensive zone. Today’s centers are rovers that have responsibility at both ends of the ice.

As for the non-center forwards, we’ll divvy them up based on their handedness. Ideally, the Red Wings should have an even distribution of left- and right-handed shots.

With that being said, let’s check out Detroit’s depth up front.

Left-Handed Wings Centers Right-Handed Wings
Filip Zadina Joe Veleno Ethan Phillips
Jonatan Berggren Michael Rasmussen Ryan O’Reilly
Robert Mastrosimone    
Albin Grewe    
Otto Kivenmaki    
Elmer Soderblom    
Kirill Tyutyayev    

That’s not an even distribution. Not even close.

When it comes to handedness, Detroit has clearly favored lefties in the past couple drafts. There’s fantastic depth on the left side, with the potential for at least three NHLers to play behind Zadina. But more right-handed shots are needed in the upcoming draft. The “other” O’Reilly likely won’t be a factor at the NHL level and Phillips needs to bulk up quite a bit before turning pro.

As we’ve seen with trade deadline prices and recent contracts, a premium is placed on NHL-level centers. So why haven’t the Red Wings drafted more? Don’t get me wrong, Veleno and Rasmussen are a nice one-two punch down the middle, but there should be more depth. Mastrosimone, Kivenmaki, and Soderblom have played some center in the past, but are better off on the wing. Still, more pure centers are needed.

Related: Red Wings: Projected Seattle Expansion Draft Protected List

Defensemen

Like the forwards, we’ll split up the defensemen based on their handedness. Ideally, there should be a left- and right-handed defenseman on each pairing, though it should be noted that some players prefer to be on their opposite side like Trevor Daley.

Left-Handed DefensemenRight-Handed Defensemen
Jared McIsaacMoritz Seider
Albert JohanssonAntti Tuomisto
Cooper MooreGustav Lindstrom
Kasper KotkansaloSeth Barton
Malte SetkovGustav Berglund

On defense, Detroit’s strength is on the right side. At the very least, Seider, Tuomisto, and Lindstrom are NHL blueliners who can occupy the right half of defensive pairings. Plus, there’s 22-year-old Filip Hronek playing top-pair minutes in the NHL already.

But on the left side, the Red Wings could stand to add more depth. McIsaac has the potential to be a top-four defenseman. Same with Johansson. But after those two, there’s a drop off. Dennis Cholowski is still young, but you have to wonder if he’s part of Detroit’s future given his propensity for defensive blunders and the fact that Yzerman did not draft him.

Goalies

As far as goalies go, the Red Wings really don’t have a go-to “goalie of the future.” But, there is some intriguing depth in the organization.

  1. Filip Larsson
  2. Keith Petruzzelli
  3. Carter Gylander
  4. Jesper Eliasson
  5. Kaden Fulcher

Of the five above, all but Fulcher could develop into NHL netminders. Not all four will, though. Each of Larsson, Petruzzelli, Gylander, and Eliasson have strengths and weaknesses, but none stand out as surefire NHLers.

Filip Larsson of the Detroit Red Wings
Can Filip Larsson develop into an NHLer? (Jenae Anderson / The Hockey Writers)

If someone like Joel Blomqvist is available in the third round of the upcoming draft, the Red Wings should consider adding the netminder to their depth. Depending on who you ask, Blomqvist is the second-best draft-eligible goaltender outside of Yaroslav Askarov, who is likely to go early in the first round.

Final Word

While the Red Wings should continue to draft the best player available, they should consider adding depth at a few positions if opportunities arise. There are only two right-handed wingers and both are long shots to be NHL contributors. The Red Wings could also use a center or two to supplement Veleno and Rasmussen. In addition, the left side of their blue line could stand to be upgraded.

With six choices in the first 70 picks of the draft, Yzerman can address at least a couple of those positions. There’s certainly a solid foundation, but the Red Wings are going to need more to be contenders one day.

The post State of the Red Wings’ Prospect Pipeline appeared first on The Hockey Writers.


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