Red Wings 2000 draft evaluation

By Phil Laugher

In the 2000 NHL Entry Draft, the Detroit Red Wings had 11 selections at their disposal. Five years removed from that draft, the Red Wings have seen only one of their draftees play NHL games (Niklas Kronwall), for a draft class average of under two NHL games per pick.

They have few hopes on the horizon from this draft class, thus continuing their tradition of having a seemingly difficult time at the draft table. Over the past ten years, the Red Wings have only seen seven of their draft selections get any semblance of consistent ice in the NHL. Though that list includes the likes of Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, Jiri Fischer, and Jiri Hudler, who have been regular contributors and key players for the Red Wings, they have shown a tendency for drafting boom or bust players. More often than not, that philosophy has yielded busts.

Niklas Kronwall, D – 1st round, 29th overall (Grand Rapids Griffins – AHL)
Status: NHL Regular
NHL Games Played: 20

Kronwall, the Red Wings first selection in the 2000 NHL Entry Draft, has proven that he was worth the first round selection given him by the team. Kronwall was coming off of a successful first season with Djurgarden of the Swedish Elite League when he was drafted, having made the squad as a 17-year-old. After modest beginnings in his rookie season, Kronwall continued to see his playing time and strong offensive and defensive skills increase for Djurgarden. He saw his offensive statistics increase in each of his four seasons in the Swedish Elite League, culminating in an impressive 18-point performance in the 2002-03 season.

Kronwall made the jump to North America at the start of the 2003-04 campaign, beginning with the AHL’s Grand Rapids Griffins. It was not long before he was promoted to the big club, where the smooth defenseman saw the ice in 20 games, compiling a modest five points. Kronwall was expected to be a fixture in the Red Wings line-up, and if not for the lockout, he most definitely would have stuck with Detroit. Instead, he dominated the score-sheets for the Griffins, compiling a stellar 53 points in 76 games, leading his team in total points, and the entire AHL for points among defensemen. A power-play quarterback in the making, with great instincts, Kronwall will likely flourish on the post-lockout Red Wings.

Tomas Kopecky, C – 2nd round, 38th overall (Grand Rapids Griffins – AHL)
Status: NHL Prospect
NHL Games Played: 0

Kopecky’s offensive production has declined greatly in the past couple of seasons, due in large part to a smattering of injuries and sustained bouts of inconsistency. If the last two years are any indication, his chances of making it to the next level are slim to none, though he remains in the conversation as a potential prospect largely because of his size – something that the Red Wings sorely lack up front. The Slovakian-born WHL product was selected in the second round of the 2000 Draft after a pair of successful seasons in the Slovakian Junior league (and later the Elite league). He then made the jump to the WHL after being drafted by Detroit, to play for the Lethbridge Hurricanes.

His first professional season for Grand Rapids was fairly successful, as he scored at nearly half a point per game, however his last two seasons have been injury-plagued, wherein he has played 48 games apiece in the last two seasons, battling rib and hand injuries. He is a great offensive presence, and brings some physicality, but inconsistency and injuries are two demons that he will have to conquer if he is to even get a taste of the next level.

Stefan Liv, G – 4th round, 102nd overall (HV71 Jonkoping – Sweden)
Status: NHL Prospect
NHL Games Played: 0

Liv is one of the Red Wings top goaltending prospects, though he still remains in Sweden at present. The Polish-born netminder was selected in the fourth round of the 2000 NHL Draft, and responded to that confidence instilled in him by the Red Wings by seizing the starting goaltender job for Jonkoping the following season. In 2001-02, Liv put together a stellar season, winning the Henken Trophy for best goaltender in the Swedish Elite League, and was selected to the league’s all-star team.

His numbers have begun to regress in recent years, though he is still one of the better, and more consistent goaltenders in the Swedish league. It will be interesting to see if Liv will bring his unorthodox style to Detroit in the post-lockout situation, as the chances are that he would be given a chance to win a job in the NHL.

Dmitri Semenov, RW – 4th round, 127th overall (Novosibirsk Siber – Russia)
Status: NHL Bust
NHL Games Played: 0

The Red Wings picked Semenov in the fourth round in the 2000 Draft in the hopes that his promising offensive performances in the lower Russian leagues would continue to grow as he progressed into the country’s higher-level leagues. That, however, has not been the case. The Red Wings scouting staff saw Semenov, who had played in the Russian Super League in his draft year, fall to the third league for a time in the 2001-02 season. Semenov has bounced around amongst teams in the top three levels of Russian hockey for the past several seasons, before settling back into the top league for Novosibirsk last season, compiling eight points in 44 games. While he may be back on track to stay in the Russian Super League in the near future, any hopes of him bringing his game to North America are gone.

Alexander Seluyanov, D – 4th round, 128th overall (Lada Togliatti – Russia)
Status: NHL Prospect
NHL Games Played: 0

Seluyanov was the Red Wings third selection in the fourth round of the 2000 Draft, after impressing with Novoil Ufa in the Russian Super League as a 17-year-old. The Red Wings held modest aspirations that Seluyanov would be able to come over to North America after a few years of seasoning in Russia. His first season after his draft year was fairly solid, and he earned a spot on the Russian World Junior team. The following two seasons, however, his play regressed, and he bounced between squads in the top two tiers of Russian hockey. Fearing another lost cause, Seluyanov bounced back this past season with a very strong performance, picking up a career-high 11 points, and seeing plenty of ice on a strong Lada Togliatti team. He still has some more improvement to make before making the next step to North America – particularly his all-around defensive play – though things are looking more upbeat right now than they were at this time last season.

Aaron Van Leusen, RW – 4th round, 130th overall (Saint Mary’s Huskies – CIS)
Status: NHL Bust
NHL Games Played: 0

Van Leusen was the Red Wings fourth and final fourth round selection in the 2000 Draft. He was drafted largely based upon his grit and defensive awareness, though in his post-draft season with the Brampton Battalion, the Barrie, Ontario native posted nearly a point per game. After participating in several Red Wings camps, Van Leusen was unsigned and decided that his sporting future lay in university hockey. Van Leusen recently finished his junior season with the Saint Mary’s Huskies, who he is playing for while pursuing a criminology degree at the university.

Pär Bäcker, C – 6th round, 187th overall (Farjestads – Sweden)
Status: NHL Bust
NHL Games Played: 0

Backer was chosen in the sixth round of the 2000 Draft after posting modest numbers in Swedish Tier-2 hockey. After a second season in Tier-2 in 2000-01, the solid two-way forward who twice played for Sweden’s World Junior squad, made the jump to the Swedish Elite League in the following season, seeing sporadic ice time with Farjestads. In 2002-03, Backer earned regular ice time on a scoring line for Farjestads, compiling 27 points. The following season, he took a step backward in his development, and has languished on the Farjestads fourth line for the past two seasons. It was not just his offense that fell off, as his defense and faceoffs also declined in consistency last season. He has the talent to regain his standing in Sweden, though his North American prospects are about nil at present.

Paul Ballantyne, D – 6th round, 196th overall (Toledo Storm – ECHL)
Status: NHL Bust
NHL Games Played: 0

Ballantyne was drafted in the sixth round following a strong second season in the OHL for the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, and hopes were high that the Red Wings may have gotten a steal in the 6’3 defenseman. Those hopes were magnified the following season, when Ballantyne posted 40 points and was a league all-star. He has, however, been unable to translate his junior success to the professional ranks. He has only seen spot duty for the Red Wings AHL affiliate in Grand Rapids, instead seeing the bulk of his playing time in the ECHL for Toledo, where he has been able to post modest numbers. Big, but not overly physical, Ballantyne will have to improve his all-around defensive game if he hopes to even become a regular at the AHL level, let alone in the NHL. He has shown in the past that he has the tools to be a valuable contributor, and will have to do more to make the next step.

Jimmie Svensson, LW – 7th round, 228th overall (Troja/Ljungby – Sweden)
Status: NHL Bust
NHL Games Played: 0

The Red Wings took a flyer on Svensson with their seventh rounder, in the hopes that he would be able to continue to hone his strong offensive instincts. He, however, has failed to garner much of an opportunity in the Swedish Elite League, spending much of his past few seasons in Swedish Tier-2 hockey, where he has still put up modest goal totals. He is a one-dimensional player only, and is a mediocre skater with only average hockey sense, so the chance of his progressing any further than a limited role in the Swedish Elite League is slim. He did post 24 points last season for IF Troja/Ljungby in Tier-2, so it appears that he may have begun to turn the corner, though any North American aspirations have likely vanished.

Todd Jackson, RW – 8th round, 251st overall (Toledo Storm – ECHL)
Status: NHL Prospect
NHL Games Played: 0

The Red Wings took a flyer on Jackson, a product of the United States developmental program, with their tenth selection in the draft. Jackson spent four seasons for the University of Maine Black Bears. Though his defensive play is his primary strength, that did not stop Jackson from notching 22 goals in his senior year for Maine. He made the jump to the professional ranks last season, though he failed to attain much success with Grand Rapids, instead making his contributions of nearly a point-per-game for Toledo in the ECHL. His defensive presence, speed, and grit make him still an attractive option for the future, though he will have to have a strong sophomore season and stick (and contribute) with Grand Rapids.

Evgeni Bumagin, RW – 8th round, 260th overall (Karaganda – Russia)
Status: NHL Bust
NHL Games Played: 0

Bumagin was the 11th and final selection for the Red Wings in the 2000 Draft. He was selected based on an impressive offensive performance in Russian Tier-3 hockey, where he picked up 40 points in 53 games. He made the jump to Tier-2 in 2000-01, but his numbers lagged and he was unable to progress into the Russian Super League. Bumagin did have a very productive season for Karaganda last season (10 goals, 26 points), and will look to build on that next season, though North America seems to be out of the picture at present.

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