Here we are again.
It feels like Groundhog Day. Year after year, the Red Wings are shafted in the draft. In the last five years, the Wings have dropped more in lottery rankings than any other team. The good news is that the team didn’t drop from their projected 6th overall spot this year. The bad news, of course, is that they’re drafting 6th overall. The position isn’t the worst in the draft, but with a team like Detroit desperately requiring top talent, it leaves a lot to be desired. Having said that, Steve Yzerman used his last shot at 6th overall to draft Moritz Seider, who is currently in the process of dismantling his opponents at the IIHF Worlds.
With a draft mired in uncertainty and a team looking to make a bigger impact, what should the Red Wings do? Should they stick to their guns and stay with their pick, or trade down for more assets?
Option 1: Keep the Pick!
The best way to ensure success with an NHL squad is by drafting and developing elite and high-potential talent. Securing that top talent is, of course, no small feat. It requires scouting, skill, draft wizardry, and a little bit of luck. The earlier you pick in a draft, the higher your chances are at securing said elite talent. Barring a trade up, the 6th overall pick is Detroit’s best chance at drafting a high-potential player.
There are plenty of very promising names in this draft. Whether the Wings are looking to bolster their offense or build on their backend, there are plenty of options at their disposal. From William Eklund’s elite offensive potential to Brandt Clarke’s game-breaking blueline management, there are options abundant throughout the draft. While Steve Yzerman appears to imply otherwise, the Wings may even swing for the fences and draft goaltender Jesper Wallstedt to cover their bases on the netminding front. The lack of a consensus top pick in the draft offers a myriad of potential for GMs around the league.
Jesper Wallstedt, shown above, is the consensus top goaltender in the draft and a potential pick Yzerman may consider.
Option 2: Trade it Away for More
On the other hand, this is the most uncertain draft since 2012. There are no surefire shots at an Alexis Lafreniere-caliber player. It’s hard to tell who will pan out as a franchise face and who will falter. With the limited scouting availability this season, the draft is more of a wild toss at the dartboard than ever before. This is the kind of draft that can either shorten or lengthen the rebuild timeline. Careful consideration is needed to secure a win in this draft — and the best way to do it is to add a few more picks to your arsenals.
If the Red Wings trade down in the draft, they may have the chance to secure a later 1st round pick and another 2nd round pick to add to the three they already have. A team like the Chicago Blackhawks could be the perfect match. Possessing the 11th overall pick, the Hawks are in dire need of top talent as they start a rebuild of their own. The Wings could trade the 6th overall for the 11th overall from Chicago plus the 2nd round pick they secured from Vegas in the Mattias Janmark trade. By moving down a few spots and securing another pick, the Wings can bolster their rebuild with another chance at a 2nd round gem.
If you’re leery of the value 2nd or later round picks, keep in mind that Yzerman drafted Nikita Kucherov with a 2nd round pick. While it’s unlikely that they’ll secure a Kucherov-level player with this pick, the odds of getting a terrific player increases when you have four 2nd round picks.
Option 3: Get More Insurance
The thought of whiffing on a 6th overall pick is scary. We’ve seen it too often with teams like Vegas (Cody Glass), New Jersey (Pavel Zacha), and Vancouver (Jake Virtanen). What better way to ensure your success than by casting a wide net? The Vancouver Canucks are rumored to have their 9th overall pick available on the trade block. With the talent their roster possesses, they’d require a roster player in return. The cap-strapped Canucks may be willing to part with the 9th overall pick in exchange for a top-four defenseman like, say, Filip Hronek.
Hronek has been a capable defensemen his entire career. He’s scored at a comfortable half-a-point-per-game pace from the moment he joined the NHL and would fit right in with Vancouver’s system. If the one-for-one trade isn’t enough, the Wings may be willing to take on Loui Eriksson’s contract to help the Canucks out of their cap trouble. Securing a top-10 draft pick for a top-four defenseman and some salary relief seems like a very fair deal for both sides.
What do you think the Wings should do? Take it, leave it, or get some more insurance?