The Detroit Red Wings are hoping for better mid-to-late-round draft picks on the back of what has been a pretty absurd year. The season was pretty strange given the fact that some amateur leagues kept their doors closed as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic, leading to limited scouting for NHL teams.
While teams will still have the top prospects on their radar, there should be some talent that will be relatively unobserved, which could see a number of solid players slipping down to the later rounds in the draft. That would work out in Detroit’s favor and they’re actually hoping some quality players will go unnoticed.
“You can look it at two ways - it’s potentially tougher to find people, or you might find a gem later on that didn’t play much, that maybe one of your scouts saw a year ago and said, ‘I’d really like to pick this player,’ " team GM Steve Yzerman was quoted as saying earlier this month. “I do think there will be some really good players that for whatever reason are picked later in the draft. Maybe they didn’t play at all, maybe they played a little bit or maybe they played in a men’s league in Europe and hardly got on the ice and you’re going to wake up in three years and say, ‘Wow, I had no idea this guy was going to be this good.’
“In a normal year our scouts would see these kids play a lot in every single league. This year, the Ontario (League) kids haven’t played, a lot of the leagues shut down early. I think there’s going to be kids that go much later in the draft than normally would have (gone late) if they got a chance to play all year and the same way kids will go a lot higher just basically because teams got to see them a lot.”
2021 marks the third straight year the Red Wings have three second-round picks. This time around, they’re set to pick at 38 with their own selection, 48th from the New York Rangers and 52d from the Edmonton Oilers. They have picks in each of the third, fourth, and fifth rounds as well.
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Detroit will need to find NHL players past the first round although landing a top player at No.6 and a decent one at No.23 is quite important.
Per Mlive.com “That is where they found Tyler Bertuzzi (58th in 2013) and Filip Hronek (53rd in 2016) among current Red Wings and players like Jiri Hudler (58th in 2002), Valtteri Filppula (95th in 2002), Jimmy Howard (64th in 2003), Johan Franzen (97th in 2004), Justin Abdelkader (42nd in 2005), Darren Helm (132nd in 2005), Gustav Nyquist (121st in 2008), Tomas Tatar (60th in 2009) and Andreas Athanasiou (110th in 2012) in the past.”
The first round of the draft is set for July 23, virtually, and the second through seventh rounds will take place the following day. Detroit has 12 picks in hand at the moment and their hopes could very well be fulfilled as teams will be focused on the players who have already built a reputation as being NHL-ready. The team will be looking to make the best choices for its roster and the best for Michigan, so their scouts will be hard at work.
Of course, they are unlikely to be the only team picking late to have thought of this, and that the general manager has already voiced it could also work against them.
Where the first-round pick is concerned, Fabian Lysell is a top candidate. Lysell’s attitude has to be a seller for any NHL team. He pushed for a move out of Frolunda HC’s J20 team just so he could get more action in the SHL during the season. He wound up with Lulea HF, for whom he played 26 games. The Swedish winger only registered two goals and three points but the stats hardly do him justice.
As mentioned above, the Red Wings need to land an impactful first pick in sixth place. Fans would love to see them come away with a promising piece but the current draft class isn’t as convincing as previous ones. Lysell, though, could be considered a good risk for Detroit. At 18, he’s already showing some impressive confidence, demanding to be switched so he could play more often at a higher level.
“The obvious standout to Lysell’s game is his skating and speed. You give him ample space he’s able to turn on the jets and enter the offensive zone quickly and with ease,” THW scout Peter Baracchini observes. “If you saw one of his goals during the U18 Championship- going end to end- then you know what I’m talking about. He can flow effortlessly in the offensive zone and create a very strong cycle game, maintaining possession and setting up plays.”