Later this month, NHL clubs will gather in New Jersey (gross, I know) to take turns selecting the 18-year-olds that they’re going to be adding to their prospect cupboards. The Red Wings — assuming they don’t trade their pick — will select 18th overall. If they had won their second round series against the Blackhawks, the earliest they could have selected is 27th (the final four teams remaining the Stanley Cup playoffs get 27-30 automatically… the rest are determined by lottery and regular season finish).
If they hang onto their selection, 18th is the highest the Wings will have picked since selecting Martin Lapointe 10th overall just a short 22 years ago. If ever there was a time to have a decent draft pick, 2013 is the year. This is the deepest draft in recent memory — with all thirty first round picks potentially making an NHL impact sooner rather than later. We’ll take a quick look at the guys at the top of the list — but, barring something major taking place on the draft floor, the Wings will have no chance at them whatsoever.
But, what can you expect as a fan of the Winged Wheel? If you can hang through the whole post (gimme a break, it’s been six months!), we should have a pretty good indication of things to come. I usually get 24-28 of the 30 guys right… though never even close to the correct order.
THE TOP FLIGHT GUYS
1. Seth Jones (D – Portland Winterhawks)
At his coronation ceremony, new Colorado Avalanche head coach and vice president Patrick Roy hinted that the first overall selection may be available for the right deal. I think he was bluffing, because even though moving down a few slots and adding an additional player from this draft may make a lot of sense for a team as thin as the Avalanche, you don’t pass up on a franchise defenseman at the top of the board — PARTICULARLY one from Colorado who credits the Avalanche as the reason he got into hockey. That’s just good marketing that comes with the best player in the Draft.
2 & 3. Nathan MacKinnon (F – Halifax Mooseheads) & Jonathan Drouin (F – Halifax Mooseheads)
These two are teammates and linemates (the third of the trio is Red Wings draft pick Martin Frk). Some mock drafts have these guys flipped…or even have one going first overall…but everyone and their mother has Jones, MacKinnon, and Drouin going 1-2-3 in some order. If I were a betting man, and the top three teams don’t trade out of their spots, I’ve got Jones to Colorado, MacKinnon to Florida, and Drouin to Tampa.
4. Sasha Barkov (F – Finland)
He’s Russian-Finnish in the same way that I’m Italian-American. His name is absolutely Russian, but he was born in, raised in, and plays international hockey for Finland, which should help him avoid the annual “Russian Free Fall” that has happened at every single Draft since the KHL formed. He’ll be the top European player off the board and is very likely #4 to Nashville.
5. Darnell Nurse (D – Sault Ste. Marie)
Donovan McNabb’s nephew is a gigantic kid and the consensus #2 blueliner available. It’s all a matter of who needs a defenseman. Carolina may take him at 5, which may be a smart move considering they didn’t take a defenseman until the fourth round last year.
6. Sean Monahan (F – Ottawa)
The one-time top pick is this year’s Sean Couturier, though I doubt he slides all the way to Philly at 11. Calgary selects at #6.
7. Rasmus Ristolainen (D – Finland)
The top European defenseman on most boards. Edmonton holds the seventh pick in the Draft, and they’d be wise to select a defenseman (FINALLY) with their top pick. But there are plenty of kick-ass forwards available for them.
8. Hunter Shinkaruk (F – Medicine Hat)
Best Name Nominee Hunter Shinkaruk will need to add some mass before jumping to the NHL. Buffalo selects at this spot, and might look nice playing with Mikhail Grigorenko in a few seasons.
9. Elias Lindhold (F – Sweden)
The top Swede available. The hometown Devils hold the ninth pick, and they’ve never been afraid to go over the pond for their selections, but they might want to make the fans in the building rock with a local selection. Who knows.
10. Valeri Nichushkin (F – KHL)
Here’s the top candidate for an aforementioned major Russian Free Fall. He’s the top Russian available, and very likely a top five pick based solely on skill. But, in addition to the KHL angle, he also refused to answer questions about whether he’d be willing to play in the AHL during media availability. That’s going to be a huge red flag for a lot of teams. The Stars, and Jim Nill, hold the tenth pick and I’d bet my left foot he doesn’t use his first pick as general manager on a guy with that kind of uh oh following him around.
11. Nikita Zadorov (D – London)
While he’s also Russian, he’s committed to playing North American hockey, a top blueliner for the incredibly talented London Knights. Philadelphia picks here.
12. Anthony Mantha (F – Val d’Or)
He’s huge, he’s a 50 goal scorer in the OHL, and he’s a Pronovost. He’ll be off the board before Detroit’s name is called… but probably not before Jim Nill’s is called (at 10). Phoenix holds the #12 overall pick.
13. Ryan Pulock (D – Brandon)
Captain of the Wheat Kings and a two-time member of Canada’s underage national team. Some have him in the top five. Winnipeg will be picking at #13.
14. Bo Horvat (F- London)
Already has a million OHL awards. The Blue Jackets would do a backflip if he was still available at 14. He may very well not be.
POTENTIAL RED WINGS TARGETS
Now that the (likely) top 14 players are off the board, we can take a peek at guys who may very well be available when the Red Wings select at 18. This might be easier if broken down by position.
There will probably be a goaltender selected in the first round (Zach Fucale) — maybe even two (Eric Comrie). The Red Wings won’t be selecting them. If you haven’t noticed, the Wings have gotten into the habit of drafting a netminder every other year at the Draft. Last year, Jake Patterson… in ’10, Petr Mrazek… in ’08, Thomas McCollum… in ’06, Daniel Larsson. This year isn’t an even year, so they’ll pass. Book it.
The last five Drafts, the Wings have selected non-blueliners with their top pick. That’s only noteworthy because every first round pick they held onto between 1993 and 2007 was used to select a blueliner. With the young defensemen developing (DeKeyser, Smith, and Kindl in Detroit… Ouellet, Sproul, Jensen in Grand Rapids), I don’t think that they use this pick for a blueliner — particularly since the forward crop is so deep. But it’s not out of the question (as you’ll see below in the Mock Draft). If the 18th-pick-worthy forwards are gone, they’ll take a great defenseman before they force a forward into that slot.
Josh Morrissey (Prince Albert, 6-0, 183)
One of the alternate captains of Team Canada’s U18 team at the Ivan Hlinka tournament (where they won gold). He led all tournament defensemen in goals and points, and all players in plus-minus. He was the CHL Scholastic Player of the Year and played in the CHL Top Prospects Game. A hell of a pick if he’s still available at 18.
Robert Hagg (MODO, 6-2, 203)
Split his season between MODO’s senior squad (where he was teammates with former Red Wing Mattias Ritola) and their U20 team (which he captained at 18), and won silver medals at both the World Junior Championships and U18 Tournament. Kid knows how to win, and comes from the Hockeytown Hotbed of Sweden.
Mirco Mueller (Everett, 6-3, 187)
Keep your eye on this name. He played for Switzerland’s WJC team (and captained their U18 team) in addition to playing a full season for the Silvertips in the WHL. With the recent Swiss influx (including Damien Brunner), the Wings may take a flier.
Madison Bowey (Kelowna, 6-1, 201)
The Winnipeg native won gold at the Ivan Hlinka Tournament, as well as the U18 WJC, and racked up 30 points, 75 penalty minutes, and was +41 in 69 games for Kelowna.
Jordan Subban (Belleville, 5-9, 176)
Yup, there’s another one. PK and Malcolm’s littlest brother (both in age and stature) comes from a hell of a bloodline. PK was taken 43rd overall… Malcolm was taken 24th… I bet Jordan falls somewhere in between those two.
Steve Santini (USNTDP, 6-2, 205)
The only American of the bunch is heading to Boston College next season, so the team that selects him will have (up to) four years to sign him instead of the usual two. He was named the best defenseman at the U18 WJC.
Alexander Wennberg (Djurgarden, 6-1, 183)
Signed by the Red Wings’ favorite SEL team, Frolunda, through the 2014-15 season, Wennberg already has a WJC silver medal to go with his budding Swedish professional career.
Curtis Lazar (Edmonton, 5-11, 194)
Led the Oil Kings in goals scored during the 2012-13 season in which he was an alternate captain. Played in the CHL Top Prospects game, as well as the Ivan Hlinka Tournament (gold medal for Canada).
Valentin Zykov (Baie-Comeau, 6-0, 207)
Came to North America before last season and was named Rookie of the Year for the QMJHL, as well as the CHL as a whole. He was drafted by CSKA Moscow in the most recent KHL Draft, but he seems committed to staying in North America.
Frederik Gauthier (Rimouski, 6-5, 209)
Kid’s huge already, and scored at just under a point-per-game pace for the Oceanic. He’ll go in the first round for sure, it’s just a matter of where.
Anthony Duclair (Quebec, 5-10, 150)
He’s a little on the small side, but I bet Patrick Roy is interested in him. A member of Roy’s Remparts team for the last two seasons, he scored 116 points in 118 games as a 16 and 17 year old. Yikes.
Adam Erne (Quebec, 6-1, 196)
Duclair’s teammate is a guy I have my eye on. He was interviewed by 28 teams at the combine (only Dallas and Pittsburgh didn’t express interest, apparently), where he was the first one to hop onto the floor. He seems like a go-getter, and by all accounts is a great kid. He’s going to make some team very lucky in the first round.
Kerby Rychel (Windsor, 6-0, 185)
Warren Rychel’s kid (YOU’RE OLD!) plays as close to Joe Louis Arena as you can without being a Red Wing, so chances are good that the scouting staff has seen him dozens of times while he scored 87 and 74 points over the last two seasons. He actually played for the Spitfires as a 16-year-old, too, scoring 13 points in 32 games as a rookie (after being traded from Mississauga, where he had 8 in 30).
Max Domi (London, 5-9, 194)
Hey, speaking of bloodlines. Tie Domi’s kid started out as a top-five pick…fell to a potential second rounder…and has risen back up to a potential top ten pick. I think he’ll be around during the teens, so the Wings have a real shot at him. He’s scored 136 points in 126 OHL games, where he’s won an OHL championship, an Ivan Hlinka gold, and played in the CHL Top Prospects Game.
Of course, there’s always the chance that the Wings trade their pick. Last season, they traded their top selection to the Lightning in the deal that brought Kyle Quincey back to Detroit… but the Wings often trade down, adding another pick or two simply by sliding down the chart a few slots. In 2011, they traded #24 to Ottawa for #35 & #48. So, for one draft pick, they were able to get Tomas Jurco and Xavier Ouellet. In 2009, #29 went to Tampa for #32 (Ferraro) and #75 (Nestrasil). So it’s entirely possible we see another swap if there are a few guys that the Wings like more than ONE guy at #18.
Potential trade partners include the Montreal Canadiens (who have picks 25, 34, and 36), Columbus Blue Jackets (19 and 44), San Jose Sharks (20, 49, and 50), Toronto Maple Leafs (21 and 51), and Anaheim Ducks (26 and 45).
If the Wings can select Adam Erne at 18… or a guy like Duclair at 25 and someone like Sven Andrighetto (who’s re-entering the draft) at 36, that’s the kind of deal that Ken Holland likes to make.
Teams that could make a big splash trade-wise include Columbus (they have their own 14th, the Rangers’ 19th, and LA’s bottom four), Buffalo (8th and Minnesota’s 16th), Dallas (10th and Boston’s bottom four), and Calgary (6th, St. Louis’ 22nd, and Pittsburgh’s bottom four). That, of course, means that a few teams are left out of the party: Boston, Los Angeles, Minnesota, the Rangers, Pittsburgh, St. Louis are all without a first round pick.
The Red Wings currently own all of their own draft picks. They will select with the following selections:
Round 1 :: 18th overall
Round 2 :: 48th overall
Round 3 :: 79th overall
Round 4 :: 109th overall
Round 5 :: 139th overall
Round 6 :: 169th overall
Round 7 :: 199th overall
1. Colorado — Seth Jones, D
2. Florida — Nate MacKinnon, F
3. Tampa Bay — Jonathan Drouin, F
4. Nashville — Sasha Barkov, F
5. Carolina — Rasmus Ristolainen, D
6. Calgary — Elias Lindholm, F
7. Edmonton — Darnell Nurse, D
8. Buffalo — Sean Monahan, F
9. New Jersey — Hunter Shinkaruk, F
10. Dallas — Bo Horvat, F
11. Philadelphia — Ryan Pulock, D
12. Phoenix — Josh Morrissey, F
13. Winnipeg — Alexander Wennberg, F
14. Columbus — Nikita Zadorov, D
15. Islanders — Adam Erne, F
16. Buffalo — Frederik Gauthier, F
17. Ottawa — Anthony Mantha, F
18. Detroit — Robert Hagg, D
19. Columbus — Valeri Nichushkin, F
20. San Jose — Madison Bowey, D
21. Toronto — Max Domi, F
22. Calgary — Curtis Lazar, F
23. Washington — Kerby Rychel, F
24. Vancouver — Valentin Zykov, F
25. Montreal — Jordan Subban, D
26. Anaheim — Mirco Mueller, D
27. Columbus — Zach Fucale, G
28. Dallas — Steve Santini, D [Boston's first rounder became Dallas' upon Boston's advancing -- thanks for the catch, Hancock]
29. Calgary — Anthony Duclair, F
30. Chicago — JT Compher, F
Interesting names for the second round and beyond: Connor Rankin, F; Keaton Thompson, D; Eric Roy, D; Taylor Cammarata, F; Andre Burakowsky, F; Pavel Buchnevich, F; Jason Dickinson, F; Samuel Morin, D; Ryan Hartman, F; Artturi Lehkonen, F; Jacob de la Rose, F; Nicolas Petan, F; Adam Tambellini, F; Nick Baptiste, F; Keaton Thompson, D; Justin Bailey, F; Jean-Sebastien Dea, F; Tyler Bertuzzi, F (Todd’s nephew); Kurt Etchegary, F; Taylor Cammarata, F; Tyler Motte, F, Sven Andrighetto, F.
If the Wings pick Erne, Gauthier, Domi, Wennberg, Santini, Morrissey, or Hagg in the first round… and follow it up with de la Rose, Mueller, or Petan in the second… and somehow get their hands on Andrighetto, Dea, Etchegary, or Cammarata in the mid-to-later rounds, I’ll do a backflip.