The Detroit Red Wings head into this draft without a 1st round pick (as usual), but also with the task of filling more roster spots on their own AHL affiliate in Grand Rapids (they were splitting Cincinnati with Anaheim prior). While I don’t think using the draft to help fill out the roster should be a number one priority, I will not be surprised to see the Wings draft one or two overagers to achieve this task. Detroit has had some luck in recent drafts with some of their mid to late round draft picks. Late round gem Henrik Zetterberg (210th overall, 1999) obviously tops the list, but others such as Stefan Liv (102nd, 2000), Paul Ballantyne (196th, 2000), and Par Backer (187th, 2000) all seem to have real NHL potential.
Detroit’s biggest weaknesses as far as prospects go seem to be in size on the blueline (and a lack of size in general) and a lack of left wings. The overall depth of the system has also been practically erased through trades over the past couple of years. Center is the one position Detroit has a number of quality youngsters at, but good centers are also highly valuable.
With all that in mind, the following are players I have as targets for the upcoming draft for Detroit. They have the following picks: 2nd (from Carolina for Aaron Ward), 2nd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th (from Columbus in exchange for a 2000 9th round pick), and 9th.
Patrick Jarrett (C, Owen Sound, CSB Ranking #100)
Jarrett strikes me as either a total steal or a complete bust. With the lack of 1st round selections over the past few years, the Wings are a team that needs to use some picks on high risk/high return type of players. Jarrett fits this bill perfectly. While the organization is already deep at center, I don’t think you can have too many in this day and age of the NHL. The former 1st overall pick in the 2000 OHL draft is dripping with talent, but has yet to put it together. He’s been labeled as difficult, his work ethic is often questioned, and he doesn’t have great size. However, if these obstacles are overcome, he could be a very solid NHLer.
Marian Havel (C/LW, Vancouver, CSB #65)
Havel is similar in many respects to Jarrett. Havel is another player with loads of talent, but it hasn’t seemed to “click.” He excels offensively, but his defensive game is a liability. That can be learned. He has gamebreaking abilities on the offensive side of the puck, but seems to float at times. Again, another high risk/hgh return type of player. I wouldn’t take both he and Jarrett in the same draft, but one of them could end up being a steal.
Jason Ryznar (LW, University of Michigan, CSB #32)
Ryznar is a big kid (6’3, 200+), and playing down the road from Detroit in Ann Arbor (and often times at the Joe), he seems like a logical choice. He had a decent first year at Michigan (9g, 7a), but did not perform on a consistent basis. He fits two needs the Wings have: size and he’s a left wing.
Andrei Mikhnov (LW/C, Sudbury, CSB #77)
A big Ukrainian who has been playing in the OHL for the past season. He has good size (6’6), though he could stand to add some weight as he’s only around 195 lbs. Mikhnov is a natural center who can play wing. I like that he came over to North America to play in juniors… it should help him adapt more quickly to the North American style game. He is not known for using his size to his advantage, but that can hopefully change.
Bobbie Hagelin (LW, Sodertalje, CSB #56)
A talented Swede whose stock seems to be rising. His size isn’t great (5’11, 180+), but he seems to be pretty solid in all areas of the game. The next step for him would be to make the jump to the SEL and prove he can play there. He would be a solid mid round pick in my opinion.
Jan Kubista (RW, Pardubice Jr, CSB #17)
I honestly didn’t know much about Kubista until a friend of mine in the Czech Republic mentioned him. After doing some research, I like what I’ve seen and read. He is an offensive player, but isn’t terrible defensively. His offensive talents and on-ice vision are what impress me the most. He also has pretty good size (6’1, 190+).
Richard Stehlik (D, Skalica, CSB #24)
Stehlik is probably a real long shot for Detroit, but he is one of my absolute favorite players in this draft. He is huge (6’4, 225+) and is one of the younger players in this draft (he’s a June 84 DOB). He has played in the Slovak Elite league for the past 2 seasons and continues to improve. He uses his size effectively, is a hard worker, and has good hockey sense. He’s not great offensively, but he is adequate. Again, I think it’s almost a pipe-dream for him to fall far enough for Detroit, but we can all dream.
Tomas Linhart (D, Pardubice Jr, CSB #22)
Linhart is another good sized defensemen (6’2, 205+) who can throw his weight around. He could possibly one day provide a physical presence that is lacking in Detroit’s system on the blueline. His skating is average, but he is positionally sound and makes a good outlet pass.
Jesse Lane (D, Hull, CSB #48)
Lane is a skilled offensive minded defenseman who can quarterback a power play. He has decent size, but isn’t overly physical. He is known for his smooth skating, precision passing, and offensive prowess. While Detroit has Kronwall as potential PPQB in their system right now, I question his ability to succeed in the NHL. If Lane’s defensive coverage improves, he has the size and speed to be a quality NHLer. Plus, I’m fond of d-men from the Q after seeing what Jiri Fischer can do (and hey, he also played in Hull).
Johnny Boychuk (D, Calgary, CSB #51)
Boychuk is a mean, physical presence on the blueline. He reminds me of Darius Kaspairits in that he often gets out of position to make a big hit. However, big, mean defensemen seem to be few and far between in the NHL which is why I’m high on Boychuk. He tends to be undisciplined at times, but that can easily be changed.
Paul Giallonardo (D, Windsor, CSB #88)
Giallonardo has good size (6’3), but like many prospects, needs to bulk up (he’s only around 190 lbs). He is good in his zone and will play a physical game at times. Giallonardo would be a solid pick in the 4th or 5th round.
Other players I also like, but I don’t expect to have any shot of being available are Daniel Fernholm, Michal Barinka, Adam Henrich, Barry Tallackson, Alexander Sulzer, and Joakim Lindstrom.
This list also does not include overagers, but I won’t be surprised if Detroit possibly drafts one of the overaged European goalies that are available in this year’s draft. Going into next year at Grand Rapids, the only goalie that is lined up for the team is Joey MacDonald. While MacDonald had a great year in the ECHL, he was mainly signed to be a backup at the AHL level. Jason Elliot, the Wings current AHLer in net at Cincy, will likely not be resigned. With Detroit responsible for providing the Grand Rapids team with two goaltenders, they will have to do something before next season. Stefan Liv, the top goalie prospect in the organization, will stay in Sweden for another year with his club HV71.
It should also be noted that Detroit recently signed Toronto St. Michael’s captain, Matt Ellis to a 3-way/3-year deal. Ellis will be expected to make a serious bid to play on the AHL team in the fall.