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Yzerman Raises Eyebrows with First Round Pick

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It’s safe to say that Steve Yzerman’s first major decision as Red Wings GM raised many questions

NHL: NHL Draft Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

When Steve Yzerman took the reins as the Detroit Red Wings general manager just two short months ago, the consensus from the fan base was that he would be the “savior.” After failing to make the playoffs for three consecutive seasons—following an NHL record 25 straight appearances before hand—it seemed that many had grown tired of Ken Holland’s model, and it was time for the franchise to veer onto a new rebuilding path.

On Friday night, as Yzerman took to the podium to announce the team’s first-round selection, there were many high profile prospects dangling in front of him to choose from. However, too many covering the draft and watching at home, Yzerman made a selection completely out of left field that left many scratching their heads. “Moritz Seider.”

Well, that’s not what we were expecting and based on the look of Seider’s face, he wasn’t expecting it either.

With Dylan Cozens, Vasili Podkolzin and Trevor Zegras still available on the draft board, the Seider pick was certainly an unpopular one, and I have to admit it brought a frown upon my face too. It’s not that the pick was outright terrible — Seider was ranked No. 6 among European Skaters by NHL Central Scouting and No. 16 overall by Future Considerations and TSN’s Bob McKenzie — but, it seemed throughout the day leading up to Yzerman’s announcement that there was an opportunity (at least once) to move back in the first round, while managing to make this selection.

One rumor that circled around was the possibility of the Vancouver Canucks moving up from the 10th spot to claim the Wings’ sixth pick. In hindsight, this move would have made sense if Yzerman were able to collect an additional pick along with Seider being available four picks later. It seems to me like this could have worked if Jim Benning wanted to pull the trigger on a deal, however, Yzerman may not have been willing to take that chance considering the Edmonton Oilers prioritized a defenseman with the No. 8 pick and who knows what Ken Holland had up his sleeve?

Reporting from The Athletic Detroit indicates that Yzerman did in fact explore trading back and that there were enough teams behind them who they believed were also taking a hard look at Seider that Detroit felt they couldn’t risk trading back to 10 and still getting their player.

Either way you look at this, Seider has great potential to be a solid two-way defenseman in the NHL. Scouts have raved about his mobility and hockey sense, and to me, he has tremendous size and maturity for an 18-year-old at 6-4, 207 lbs.

It wasn’t the sexy pick by any means with Cozens, Podkolzin and Zegras still on the board, but it could very well pan out in time (I’m hopeful). One thing was evident from Yzerman, he clearly thought the Wings’ blueline prospects were not up to par—three of his first four picks were defensemen—and he acted accordingly.

Did he make the popular choices? No. Did he make the right choices? Maybe. The ‘Yzerplan’ will be talked about and perhaps criticized leading up to the season, but he was brought in to change the direction of this franchise, and so far it certainly looks like he’s lived up to those expectations.