Red Wings 2004 draft evaluation

By Brandon Peleshok

In the 2004 draft the Red Wings took eight players over nine rounds. Their first pick in the draft came in the third round, as they traded away their first two picks. He was the only one to see time in the NHL.  All together, the draft class yielded an average of 36.5 games per pick at the NHL level, which is still a solid average compared to other teams.

Johan Franzen, C
6’3, 218lbs
Acquired: 3rd round, 97th overall
Status: Player
NHL Games Played: 292

While the Red Wings’ highest pick in the 2004 came in the third round, it turned out to be one worthy of a first round selection. Franzen’s Swedish Elite League numbers gave no indication that he would turn into the goal-scorer that he is today. However, like several times before, scout Hakan Andersson saw something in Franzen and recommended him.

In his first two seasons with the team, Franzen played most of his minutes as a defensive forward on the third line. At the end of the 2007-08 season an injury to Tomas Holmstrom allowed Franzen to move up to the first line and get some power play time. Since that opportunity, he has turned into one of the most consistent goal scorers in the league.

Franzen put up career highs of 34 goals and 25 assists during the 2008-09 season. He’s continued his torrid goal-scoring pace in the playoffs as well, scoring 23 goals in 31 games. The Red Wings locked up Franzen to an 11-year deal worth $3.9 million this season, ensuring that The Mule will remain in Detroit for the rest of his career.

Evan McGrath, C
6’0, 195lbs
Acquired: 4th round, 128th overall
Status: Prospect
NHL Games Played: 0

Coming out of the OHL as a member of the Kitchener Rangers, McGrath showed a lot of promise. He finished his last season with 114 points in 67 games. It looked as if the Wings could have a steal on their hands.

However, once McGrath entered the AHL in the 2006-07 season, he saw his offensive numbers plummet. During the season he was even sent down to the affiliate team in the ECHL. While McGrath has steadily increased his point totals over the past three seasons, becoming a member of the Red Wings roster seems unlikely at this point.

He finished the 2008-09 season with the Griffins, scoring 47 points in 68 games. He went on an offensive tear in the latter parts of the season. If McGrath has any hope of playing for the Red Wings he’ll have to put together a stellar season in 2009-10.

Sergei Kolosov, D
6’4, 187lbs
Acquired: 5th round, 151st overall
Status: Prospect
NHL Games Played: 0

The Red Wings almost let Kolosov go prior to the 2008-09 season. Without a contract with the team, he would have been free to take his play elsewhere. However, the suggestion of current Griffins coach Curt Fraser convinced the Red Wings enough to sign Kolosov to a two-year deal.

Playing under Fraser for the Belarus national team, Kolosov was able to impress the coach enough to earn him a spot on the Griffins. Playing a key role with the national team, they were able to qualify for the 2010 Olympics.

While Kolosov isn’t known as an offensive defenseman, he was still able to chip in with 11 points in 70 games. He’s also improved his skating ability and physical play along the way. The Red Wings showed their faith in Kolosov when they called him up as a black ace for their current playoff run.

Tyler Haskins, C
6’0, 185lbs
Acquired: 5th round, 162nd overall
Status: Bust
NHL Games Played: 0

Haskins put up numbers in the OHL very similar to McGrath, with a career high of 112 points in the 2005-06 season. However, unlike McGrath, the Red Wings did not sign Haskins to a contract. Since being let go by the Wings, Haskins has been invited to training camps for the Toronto Maple Leafs and New York Islanders. He was signed by the Islanders and has participated in two seasons as a member of the AHL’s Bridgeport Sound Tigers. But Haskins hasn’t been able to find the back of the net very often in the league.

Anton Axelsson, LW
6’0, 183lbs
Acquired: 6th round, 192nd overall
Status: Prospect
NHL Games Played: 0

The younger brother of P.J. Axelsson, Anton possesses the same solid skating ability and two-way sense that his older brother does. He’s spent his last two seasons in the Swedish Elite League, where he has posted 20 points in 54 games, and 15 in 52. While his offensive numbers slipping is a negative, his skating ability and defensive play remain strong. Axelsson projects as a checking line winger, but until he plays hockey in North America it’s hard to say how his game will transition.

Steve Covington, RW
6’0, 187lbs
Acquired: 7th round, 226th overall
Status: Prospect
NHL Games Played: 0

Covington is a heart and soul type player who fell off of the Red Wings radar after he was unable to produce much offensively. His career high in points came as a member of the Calgary Hitmen, as he scored 29 points in 70 games with the team. Covington was last playing as a member of the Alaska Aces in the ECHL.

Gennedy Stolyarov, C
6’4, 187lbs
Acquired: 8th round, 257th overall
Status: Prospect
NHL Games Played: 0

With the rules and regulations of an IIHF transfer agreement up in the air, Stolyarov has no deadline set for a contract signing. This gives the Red Wings more time to sit back and see if he can develop into another late-round steal. While he’s never produced great offensive numbers, his 2008-09 campaign with Astana Barys showed signs that his development may still continue. In 41 games with the team Stolyarov netted a career high 21 points. If Stolyarov can improve on his numbers he may have a future with the Red Wings someday.

Nils Backstrom, D
6’1, 202lbs
Acquired: 9th round, 290th overall
Status: Prospect
NHL Games Played: 0

The Red Wings selected Swedish defenseman Backstrom with their last pick in the 2004 draft. Spending most of his career in the junior leagues of Sweden, he moved to North America to play for the University of Alaska-Anchorage. While he had a decent rookie season, scoring 10 points in 33 games, his last two seasons have been disappointing. With no signs of improving his offensive touch, and lacking a physical edge, Backstrom does not appear to factor into the future of the Red Wings.