As I'm sure most of you know, the Red Wings made a bold-ish move on Thursday to acquire 20-year-old Dylan Sadowy from the San Jose Sharks in exchange for a 2017 3rd round Draft pick. Sadowy, days away from re-entering the NHL Draft after failing to agree to terms on his ELC with the Sharks, was reportedly signed by the Wings Friday, officially making him one of our prospects. Kyle has already detailed this kid's numbers, but what about the rest of the story? What is it in this guy's game that made him worth acquiring?
2014 Draft Interview
When the Sharks took Sadowy in the 3rd round of the 2014 Draft, he got his moment in the spotlight just like every other Draft pick. He seemed to interview well, with a few good take-always from watching the short video. This kid loves how he plays the game - the gritty, physical, net-front, garbage-goal game. The Woodbridge, Ont. native has no illusions about the game he plays or his role on a team, and that's a very good thing. He's not a kid playing one way but trying to develop into a different style. He's found his niche in the hockey world and only wants to get better at it. Trust me, that's valuable. He also knows his biggest weakness - oft reported as his skating ability, most notably power and acceleration, but didn't seem fazed by addressing it. Really, the only flaw to be found in this interview was when he said he wanted to emulate Ryan Callahan... C'mon kid, no love for Tomas Holmstrom?
The Highlight Reel
Not gonna lie, there's really only a handful of videos online featuring Dylan and a significant portion of them feature him in fights as opposed to making hockey plays or scoring goals. From the limited evidence at hand, here's what we can determine about this guy's game and skills:
Make no mistake - even though Sadowy isn't the next Connor McDavid or Auston Matthews, he's still someone who knows how to score goals. At work in Holmstrom's Office, Sadowy is skilled at elevating the puck close-in on the crease and opposing goalies when needed. That said, roofing it isn't what he'll do every time - his big skill seems to be knowing where goalies are going to leave openings, and putting the puck there as opposed to shooting for an open area of the net that an opposing net-minder is about to have covered. When he scores, it's not like he's just inching out the opposition and sneaking it between pads and posts. He's going 5-hole while a goalie reaches back to cover the open top-corner. He's busting a water bottle while the goalie is diving down to pounce on the puck, or jabbing a puck under a goalie's knee while everyone else is winding up to dig it out. Sadowy should be considered a rebound nightmare.
Helping him with all this is some very good hand-eye coordination and body positioning. From the small sample size of videos, more than a few involve him scoring off of poorly-fed or bouncing pucks. His stick is always in a position to score with a tap, deflection, or snap-shot as opposed to being off the ice while jockeying for real-estate. Sadowy seems to know how to use his shoulders, elbows, and hips to create space when his feet haven't found it already, instead of muscling guys around with a shove or cross-check that would take his stick out of the play for a few seconds. If the puck makes any appearance in front of the crease, you can bet Sadowy will get his stick on it.
Answering the bell appears to be a good portion of Sadowy's game. The left-winger doesn't hesitate to start the fray when someone takes liberties with his teammates, or sometimes even be the entire fray himself and take on 2 or 3 guys. Once engaged in fisticuffs, he's adept at using his hips, elbows, and shoulders to shield his face - just like how he uses them to keep his stick open when net-front. His hay-makers and punches look like nothing you want to step in front of, and he's not above using body shots or quick jabs to open you up for landing the big one. Sometimes he will take one or two on the chin, but Sadowy is not going down easily and usually won't stop punching until the refs grab his arm.
Overall, you have to like this move by Detroit's management. Sadowy possesses a skill set that hasn't been seen in the main Red Wings roster in quite a few years - we have playmakers and snipers and grinders, but the NHL has always been a league where you need a garbage man willing to finish when your playmakers and snipers make rebounds instead of goals. Dylan will most likely grow his game with the Griffins this coming season, and it looks like he has the tool set to make strides. The Wings and Griffs will spend some time improving that skating I mentioned earlier, which honestly looks more average than a flat-out weakness. If he can continue his development, he could be someone who can slot-in anywhere in the top-9 while being a 2nd/3rd line and powerplay staple. The guy can also grow a playoff beard that rivals Kyle Quincey.
All this for an early-mid pick in a supposedly weak draft year? We need to send San Jose a thank-you card.