One of the names floating around for Red Wings 1st round candidates is Swedish center Joel Eriksson Ek. There are a handful of mock drafts who see him as a great fit for Detroit, giving his exception two-way abilities and creativity with the puck.
I have a theory that you can never have too many center prospects in your system, so adding another top-pick center a year after acquiring your system's best prospect in Dylan Larkin, this could create a very promising "one-two punch" to the lush Red Wings prospect pool. I still believe defense is the position of need as I have stated before, but general manager Ken Holland has made it clear that he will take the best player available.
Name: Joel Eriksson Ek
Born: January 29th, 1997 -- Karlstad, Sweden
Weight: 185 lbs.
With limited video to review of him, I can say that he's likely one of the top two-way centers available in his class. While he's not exactly an electrifying skater (something that can be improved with time), he has a great sense of going to the net.
Eriksson has an extremely underrated shot, and a smooth set of hands. If you watch the videos I've attached at the bottom, you can get a real sense of what he is capable of in the other team's zone.
A very competitive center who uses his size, skill, and skating to power to the net and create scoring chances. Possesses an elite-level shot, great vision, and slick puckhandling skills; as a result, it's no surprise that he has a natural knack for scoring big goals. Offensive catalyst, but also defensively responsible. Plays a creative, 200-foot game. All-in-all, an intelligent, scoring center that is productive at both ends of the ice
Director of European Scouting, Goran Stubb:
He is a very competitive, powerful center with great speed, a good strong shot and excellent puck-handling. He is creative on the offense while reliable on defense. Likes to go to the net to create scoring chances.
NHL Comparable: Sean Couturier
ISS RANKING: #20
NHL CSS RANKING: International #4
McKeen's Hockey RANKING: #16
I'm positive he'll be available at 19th overall, but I wouldn't be shocked to see him get picked before. He has tons of potential that any NHL team should have in their crosshairs for a young center prospect.
This is a classic Hakan Andersson pick. Smooth, skilled, and a native of the Red Wings holy land of hockey, Sweden.
As I said before, you can never have too many prospects down the middle, Eriksson will spend next year in the SuperElit and SHL playing with Färjestad. With his mainstay abilities being with shooting, net presence, and two-way capabilities, he reminds me much of what Red Wings prospect Axel Holmstrom is becoming, but with a bit more talent in puck-handling. While he hasn't showed much high-end offensive performance and seems to have much improvement to do with his skating abilities, I still wouldn't be surprised at seeing him in Ken Holland's scope when the 19th overall pick is on the clock.
At the end of the day, while it's not a surprising pick for Detroit, I firmly believe there will be better players available. Perhaps if Detroit moves down in the first round, picking Eriksson would be a much better option.