BUFFALO, NY — The 2016 NHL Draft is a wrap. Now it’s time to stand back and look at what the Red Wings did, and who they acquired. Was it good? Was it bad? Was it just okay? I think Detroit made the right moves. They filled multiple needs in their prospect pool, and the roster. Here is a look at the pick-by-pick breakdown:
20th overall - Dennis Cholowski, defenseman
Committed to St. Cloud State University, Cholowski is considered to be a very cerebral defender who skates extremely well. Tyler Wright noted that his skating abilities were the reason Detroit liked him at 20th. While it’s a bit of a stretch, I think he’s a great prospect who is going to be playing with one of the country’s best developmental programs.
46th overall - Givani Smith, forward
Givani Smith played for one of the worst OHL teams in recent history in Guelph, yet he stuck it out and managed to show that he can be an impact player. He’s got size, intensity, athleticism, and a good attitude towards his craft. He could pan out to be a great bottom-six winger one day.
53rd overall - Filip Hronek, defenseman
Hronek is a solid two-way defenseman with offensive upside due to his ability to make extremely soft passes. He’s a bit small, so it’ll be a summer full of weight room sessions. You’d like to see him shoot the puck more, but he’s more of a setup defenseman. If he can add muscle, that will help him round out his game and become a possible middle-pairing defender.
107th overall - Alfons Malmstrom, defenseman
Admittedly, I have no idea about this guy. I tried to do some digging to get information or scouting notes on him, but I came up empty-handed. This is a Hakan Andersson pick, so, seeing that we know nothing about him, he’s probably a future all-star.
137th overall - Jordan Sambrook, defenseman
This was a great pick. Sambrook is a dynamic, shifty defenseman who played all situations for the Erie Otters. He reads plays well, has a solid pivot, and can skate with the best of them. He played third-pair for the Otters, but they were quite a deep team. He has a lot of raw skill that can make him a high-upside player, the one knock on him would be his habit of sluggish puck retrieval.
167th overall - Filip Larsson, goaltender
Another goaltender? Wow! Another goaltender. Larsson is a good pick, he didn’t have a great year despite helping his team win silver at the U18 WJC, but he’s a low-risk high-reward pick.
197th overall - Mattias Elfstrom, center/left-wing
Elfrom makes the second forward picked (or the third if you want to consider the Sadowy trade as part of this draft strategy). A tall kid already over 190 pounds, most of what we have on him is that he's got jets that surprise defenders and forces them to back off. He's obviously very raw still, but you can take a chance here in the 7th round.
The story of the draft was "the trade." Ken Holland traded Pavel Datsyuk and the 16th overall pick to Arizona for 20th overall, 53rd overall, and Joe Vitale. This is a huge move which ended up costing woefully less than what was expected. The team is no longer strapped down by Datsyuk’s $7.5 million cap hit, and they actually gained an asset from it in the 53rd overall pick. The knock of course is that 16th overall ended up being top prospect Jakob Chychrun, who saw his stock slide in the draft rankings. I feel like the fanbase is split here. On one hand, you can now go and make a serious bid for players like Steven Stamkos or Kyle Okposo, and on the other, you have folks upset with passing on a possible top-pairing defenseman of the future.
Ken Holland is trying to think about now, while keeping his eye fixed on the future. If they go out and get Stamkos, you passed on Chychrun for one of the league’s best goal-scoring players. If you miss out, you have flexibility to go in a different direction. All-in-all, I think Ken Holland had a great draft. He made a great move to give himself a boatload of options. They also addressed a need in drafting a handful of defensemen. While none of them are clear to be top prospects, they could turn out to be key components to a strong core of blue liners in the future.
What say you? Are you happy? Mad? Sad?