With the NHL Draft just four days away, there are a lot of questions on what player the Detroit Red Wings will be targeting with their 19th overall pick in the first round. While the majority of fans will say that the team needs to draft a defenseman, the Red Wings need defense right now. It's highly unlikely that there will be a defenseman at 19th overall who will jump into the NHL and make an immediate impact.
If you follow mock drafts in the hockey blogosphere, you'll already know that there have been a handful of different names taken for the Red Wings in the first round of this year's Draft. Let's do a quick recap of some!
Our pick in the SB Nation Mock Draft - Jeremy Bracco (LW/RW)
Sportsnet: Damien Cox - Joel Eriksson Ek (C)
The Production Line - Nick Merkley (C)
The Cannon - Thomas Chabot (D)
B/R: Kelly Friesen - Joel Eriksson Ek (C)
Today's Slapshot - Jakub Zboril (D)
The Hockey Writers - Oliver Kylington (D)
BSN Denver - Joel Eriksson Ek (C)
MyNHLDraft.com - Joel Eriksson Ek (C)
Joe Haggerty - Oliver Kylington (D)
The Draft Analyst - Jacob Larsson (D)
USA Today - Joel Eriksson Ek (C)
Hockey Wilderness - Brandon Carlo (D)
NESN - Oliver Kylington (D)
Rant Sports - Jakub Zboril (D)
Along the Boards - Jeremy Roy (D)
SportsNet.ca - Evgeny Svechnikov (LW)
McKeen's Hockey - Evgeny Svechnikov (LW)
Bleacher Report - Gabriel Carlsson (D)
The Junior Hockey News - Kyle Connor (C)
Yahoo! - Colin White (C)
CSN Philly - Nick Merkley (C)
ESPN's Corey Pronman - Erik Cernak (D)
There are a lot of good names in that list for the Red Wings. As a matter of fact, I would be completely content with Detroit taking any one of those players at 19th overall this year. As I said before, we're not drafting a player who is going to hop into the NHL in 2015. No, the players that we end up taking in this year's Draft will be projects. This is why I don't think it's absolutely imperative that the Red Wings target only a defenseman in the first round. This team has prided itself on drafting and developing, and I don't expect that to change anytime soon. They'll take the best player available, and develop him into an NHL player.
I'm going to simply rank the names that were listed above in order of most alluring, and the odds of Detroit having a chance at drafting them.
- Kyle Connor - Very unlikely he will be available, but if he is, you need to draft this kid. Highly skilled with dynamic two-way abilities, and blazing speed. Committed to the University of Michigan.
- Nick Merkley - I still think he goes before 19th overall, but his size could push him down the rankings and have him end up available. Very highly skilled center playing with Kelowna, a team who Detroit seems to have a relationship with. My Draft profile of Nick Merkley.
- Oliver Kylington - I think he's the defenseman outside of the obvious candidates who will be taken with lottery picks. His skating abilities are NHL ready, he just needs to put it all together. I have a feeling he gets taken in the 15th-18th range. My Draft profile of Oliver Kylington.
- Jeremy Roy - It's likely he's available for the Red Wings. Fleet-footed right-shot defenseman who can perform well in all three zones. My Draft profile of Jeremy Roy.
- Evgeny Svechnikov - At first, I didn't think he could possibly be available at 19th overall but over the past couple of months I see his name in the lower picks. Probably has something to do with the Russian Factor. Big flashy winger with fantastic skating abilities. My Draft profile of Evgeny Svechnikov.
- Jakub Zboril - Another player that's very likely available for Detroit. Great vision, fantastic skater, and possesses a knack with moving the puck. My Draft profile of Jakub Zboril.
- Joel Eriksson Ek - I've always had him slated to go in the 20-30 range. He'll be available, but I am unsure if he will be the best player available. Effective two-way center with a skillful shot. My Draft profile of Joel Eriksson Ek.
- Colin White - Strong two-way player who has proven to be a scoring threat. Not afraid to use his body to gain the puck or zone, which has made him a strong puck-possession player. Very likely he is available at 19th.
- Jeremy Bracco - He will be available. I love this kid because of his damn skilled he is with the puck. Small frame, but isn't afraid to battle. His elusive skating abilities also help the fact that he's not a big guy. I picked him in our mock draft because it just felt right in my gut. Could be an ace player on Larkin's wing one day. My Draft profile of Jeremy Bracco.
- Thomas Chabot - Very likely available. Smooth skater, and committed to working hard. He started his season off a bit slow, but bounced back and because an impact defenseman for his club. My Draft profile of Thomas Chabot.
- Jacob Larsson - Very likely available. Not a flashy player by any means. He's tall, and a bit lanky, but still a good skater. I like him most for his vision and knowledge of the game.
- Erik Cernak - Very likely available. Big, strong, and mobile defenseman. Reminds me a lot of Jonathan Ericsson, but actually good at skating and moving the puck. I make that comparison because he uses his body to pry the puck out of small areas. My Draft profile of Erik Cernak.
- Gabriel Carlsson - Very likely available. Like Larsson, not flashy, but smart as all get-out. He's highly touted for his play in his zone. He cuts down passing lanes, and uses his high hockey IQ to move the puck to the hands of his forwards.
- Brandon Carlo - Very likely available. Big frame that could be put in the NHL sooner rather than later. Not very high on him because he strikes me as a "stay at home" defenseman that doesn't chase the play very well. I still think he's a good pick in the 2nd round. My Draft profile of Brandon Carlo.
So there's what we've seen from mock drafts all around the world of hockey. I'm sure that I missed some, but this gives us a good understanding on what folks are thinking for the Detroit Red Wings this year. Whether it's a defenseman, or a forward.. The Red Wings will take the best player available in this year's Draft.