Ok, just hear me out. Everyone knows the Red Wings will win the lottery on Saturday and get Rasmus Dahlin. However, let’s just say hypothetically they don’t, what would they do then? Well as long as the Blackhawks don’t get #1, it won’t be a total nightmare. Disappointing? Absolutely, but you need luck to land generational talents like Dahlin. The good news is, the first 5-6 prospects after Dahlin in the draft all have elite capabilities. So let’s rank the prospects not named Dahlin, so in this hypothetically scenario, us Wings fans know who to look for.
1. Adam Boqvist, D, Swedish Hockey League, 17 years old
Ok, so for those of you who are well situated with the prospects in this years draft, this will come as a surprise to you, which I understand. However, the Red Wings have needed a good top pairing defenseman ever since Lidstrom retired, and if you don’t get Dahlin, this won’t be a terrible 2nd place trophy. Boqvist can skate like the wind and has an offensive game to show off as well. The biggest thing people rave about him is his puck-handling abilities (aka just like Lidstrom) which the Red Wings could desperately benefit from. I think the biggest reason that he’s not higher on draft boards is because he’s so young. He doesn’t turn 18 until August, so he is an incredibly raw prospect. Regardless of age, I truly believe this is the Red Wings best bet if they don’t land #1. Even if they trade back a few spots to get him and add more picks, it’d be worth it because the need for defense on this team is indescribable.
2. Andrei Svechnikov, RW, Barrie Colts (OHL), 18 years old
Name sound familiar? Yup, that’s because it is Evgeny Svechnikov’s little brother. Svechnikov is pretty much a guaranteed Top 3 pick, and if you’re a “best available” fan, this would be him. Lil’ Svech had 72 points in 44 games for the Barrie Colts this season, and has been well situated as a Top 3 projected pick for a while now. His shot alone earns him comparison to some of the best in NHL (I’d say Ovechkin cause, you know, Russian, but I feel that’d be an oversell). He’s a very good puck-handler as well, one who can quarterback PP rushes and then set up for a shot from the point. Overall, if you’re looking for best available after Rasmus Dahlin, look no further than Evgeny Svechnikov’s little brother.
3. Filip Zadina, LW, Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL), 18 years old
Zadina and Svechnikov have really been considered 1-2 right behind Dahlin, depending on what mock draft you look at. Zadina sits at 6’1” 192 lbs and was a bonafide goal-scorer in the QMJHL with 44 goals in 57 GP this year. He reminds me a lot of Auston Matthews in the sense he’s a bigger guy, capable of scoring goals but also can be a difference maker on any team with his ability to create plays for not just himself. What impresses me the most about him is his hockey sense. Like I said, he’s an offensive threat, but he can turns heads with his 200-foot game as well. Overall, a very sound prospect that any team would love to have. Like I said, there’s really no wrong with picking either Zadina or Svechnikov in this spot, but most expect them to go #2 and #3, regardless of order.
4. Quinn Hughes, D, Michigan (NCAA), 18 years old
Many have probably heard of Hughes as well as he plays nearby at Michigan. I had the privilege of calling a MSU-U of M hockey game this year for Big Ten Network (humble brag, I know) and let me tell you, Hughes is the real deal. Michigan lost the game 5-0, but Hughes was really the one stand out for Michigan. His offensive ability for a defenseman is off the charts and his stick-handling is phenomenal as well. The only reason I put Boqvist above him is because his overall game has a higher ceiling than Hughes. He struggles a bit defensively, but he very well can make up for it in the offensive end as well. A good comparison for him is Mike Green. Not Red Wings Mike Green, but Norris Trophy candidate, 70+ point scorer, Washington Capital Mike Green. If the Red Wings drop in the lottery to around 6-8, Hughes should be there, and if everyone listed above is gone, Hughes is still a very serviceable pick.
5. Brady Tkachuk, C/LW, Boston University (NCAA), 18 years old
Another name you might recognize, as Brady is the son of former Blues legend Keith Tkachuk as well as the younger brother of current Flames forward, Matthew. Brady is coming off a phenomenal year at BU after posting 31 points in 40 games. Not only that, but Tkachuk helped lead Team USA to a Bronze Medal at the World Juniors this year, as he posted 9 points in 6 games. He’s a big power forward, with goal scoring capabilities similar to that of Mantha. However, he’s much more of a complete player, and some even say the most complete player at the draft this year. The one area he needs to work on is his skating and footwork, but that could come with time. Tkachuk would be a nice consolation prize for the Wings this year.
Other Possible Candidates
6. Oliver Wahlstrom, C/RW, USNTDP (USHL), 17 years old
Another big time goal-scoring threat in this years draft, Wahlstrom posses great offensive abilities and those were on display with the US Development Team this past season. He scored 92 points and 47 goals in 60 games played, and quickly sprung up draft boards. He’s committed to play at Harvard next year, but many feel it’s a 50-50 split as to where he will end up. Overall, Wahlstrom could benefit from more developing, but serves as a nice offensive threat later in the Top 10.
7. Evan Bouchard, D, London (OHL), 18 years old
For the talent Bouchard has, were reaching the point here where these are worst case scenarios (like if the Wings pick 8th). That’s not to say Bouchard isn’t a skilled defenseman, but he certainly doesn’t have the upside of that of Dahlin, Boqvist or Hughes. He really is a well-rounded overall defenseman, that, let’s face, is still a better option than at least 4/6 current D the Wings have. He scored 87 points in 67 games while captaining the London Knights this past season. He’s a solid two-way defender and a fair pick at 7 or 8, but he certainly doesn’t have the ceiling quite like those listed above.
8. Ty Smith, D, Spokane Chiefs (WHL), 18 years old
Once you get past Dahlin, Boqvist and Hughes, it’s pretty much a toss up on defense as to who should be ranked higher. Smith posses a nice game, but many have him around in the 10-15 range. He is one of the best skaters in the draft, and provides a nice offensive game as well. However, that’s also one of the biggest areas he needs to work on as he can get caught cheating fairly often. Some believe he’s more NHL ready now than anyone else other than Dahlin. Again, his ceiling may not be as high, but certainly a prospect looking into if the worst case scenario happens and the Red Wings should look to trade back.
Who would you like to see in a Red Wings uniform the most (not named Rasmus Dahlin)?
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