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2018 NHL Draft: How the Red Wings can make the best of their early picks

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Norway v United States - 2018 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Photo by Martin Rose/Getty Images

This post was inspired by a great question we had on the most recent episode of WIIM Radio. It comes from user Mkelonn - here’s what they asked:

“Being realistic, which 4 players would be your dreamdraft using Detroits first 4 picks?”

This was a great question, and probably one that we could spend an entire podcast on. I said I would follow up on this, so this is what I’m doing. To level the playing field, I’ll pick at least two players with each pick so I can (hopefully) appease everyone.

As it stands right now, here’s where the Red Wings will pick in their first four picks:

1 (6th overall)
2 (30th overall)
3 (33rd overall)
4 (36th overall)

The Red Wings are poised to have a big haul this Draft with four picks in the top 40, and if they decide to make trades, those numbers could improve. I won’t be taking trades into factor here — Let’s just assume they’re keeping what they have. Here is how they could have the best haul with their top-four picks in the 2018 NHL Draft. (in my opinion)

6th overall

There’s going to be a lot of big names available at both sides of the ice. This time around, I’m looking to address a long-needed position. The Red Wings need a blue chip prospect on the blue line. Sure, they could go for Oliver Wahlstrom if he’s there, but if you take Wahlstrom at 6, you’re not getting a name remotely close to the same tier with your late 1st in terms of defense. As we’ve pointed out, Detroit will have their pick at a few names on defense, all of which I am fine with. Here’s who I got:

Dealer’s choice: Quinn Hughes, Adam Boqvist, Evan Bouchard, Noah Dobson

Dobson is probably a reach at 6, but there’s a lot of potential here. Take your pick at these four, I won’t complain. I lean toward Hughes and Boqvist.

30th overall

We got our guy at defense. All is well there, so let’s look at something different. With the late 1st pick from the Vegas Golden Knights, the Wings should bolster the cupboard at forward. There are two players I would be looking at at the butt-end of the 1st round that should be available.

Isac Lundestrom: A skilled center with great hands. He had great numbers in the SHL at a very tender age.

Dominik Bokk: He’s a winger, but after an impressive season with 41 points in 35 games, it’s hard to not love this playmaker from German playmaker. He’s going to see a lot of time with Vaxjo in the SHL next season.

33rd overall

At this pick, I’m going to take either a forward or defenseman — Whoever you feel better about. Maybe here you can afford to take a chance on one of those bigger defensemen, or one of those smaller forwards with a lot of skill. That’s how I feel, but regardless, this should be a ‘best player available’ situation.

Forward: Jonatan Berggren
Undersized, but fleet-footed to pair with great offensive vision. He’s another young winger who had a big season with Skellefteå AIK J20.

Defenseman: Mattias Samuelsson
A massive product of the USNDP, Samuelsson is a big two-way defenseman who had a solid season. He’s simple and smart. He’ll be playing with Western Michigan University next year, so the Red Wings will be able to monitor his development closely.

Another name to consider if he falls this far: Ryan Merkley. Part of me would be fine with taking Merkley over the two players I just mentioned.

36th overall

Part of me though, well why not take a goalie? I think that if the Red Wings are trying to add to their depth there (they have in years past, they probably will again), just wait until the later rounds. You can get a decent prospect in the 3rd, 4th, or 5th round. With this pick, I’m going for a skillful pivot.

Center: Alexander Khovanov
Not big, but speedy. Had a really short, but impressive 29-game stint in the QMJHL with 28 points. This kid is the low-risk, high-reward sort of playmaking center the you want on your team when he’s at his best.

Center: Jay O’Brien

A high school star center playing in a competitive New England league. He scored 80 points (43 of those goals) in just 30 games, finishing as the top-scorer. He’ll play with Providence College next season. He reminds me of Alex Debrincat.

This is a tough topic to write about, because every single year there are players who drop and players who are taken far too early. With this, I just followed what I think would be a great haul while being completely realistic. Sure, we’d all love to see Oliver Wahlstrom drop to 30th overall, but that’s not happening.

The point here is that if the Red Wings stick to the chart and try not to be smarter than everyone else, they’re set to have a huge 1st and 2nd round in this draft.

A big thanks to Mkelonn for pitching this topic. I welcome everyone who has an opinion on this to write a fan post, or throw a quick comment.

PS: The Red Wings have three more picks in the 3rd round.