Red Wings 2006 draft review

By Matthew Spence

In multiple team trade, the Detroit Red Wings gave up
their first round pick (29th) but picked the 41st and 47th picks in the second round, each time picking a
forward. Ultimately the Wings walked away with five forwards, one defenseman, and one goalie.

Cory Emmerton, C/LW
41st overall
5’11 175 lbs (Kingston Frontenacs, OHL)

Emmerton was fairly highly ranked prior to the draft, yet was still available in the middle of the second round when the Wings chose him 41st overall. A highly-skilled
forward with elite level vision and high-end puck skills, Emmerton scored 90 points in his second season with the Kingston Frontenacs, and finished the season 11th overall in the OHL. Of the
league’s top scorers, Emmerton was one of the youngest.

Despite an exceptional sophomore season, Emmerton saw his stock drop on draft day. At 5’11 and 177 lbs,
he was the passed up in the first round for bigger, stronger players. An under-productive postseason (2 points, 6 games) and a less than successful U18 performance didn’t help. He recorded a goal and an assist in seven games for the Under-18 World Tournament for the fourth-place Canadian Team.

Detroit has had success drafting high-skilled but undersized players and believe, with time, Emmerton has the skill to develop into a top-line
forward. Emmerton’s offensive success comes from his ability to create scoring opportunities. His excellent vision for the game allows his to compensate for a lean frame and the stick skills to execute. Yet, Emmerton needs to work on skating speed and developing strength. Emmerton will again
likely be amongst the top scorers in the OHL in 2006-07 and has the potential to be the top scorer. If he is able to add a physical element to his game, he possesses the potential to become a top-line player in the NHL.

Shawn Matthias, C
47th overall
6’3 210 lbs (Belleville Bulls, OHL)

Red Wings scouts had Matthias pegged for a late first round pick and were excited to find him still available for
their second pick in the second round at 47th overall. In his second season with the Belleville Bulls of the OHL, Matthias posted 13 goals and 21 assists in 67 games. The big center spent most of his rookie year with the Bulls in a fill-in role, but became fundamental to their roster in 2005-06 as a two-way
forward and penalty killer.

Matthias plays a simple game and uses his speed and size to forecheck effectively. He is careful with the puck and positioning both zones. Though Matthias is not a fancy or creative playmaker, he sees the ice well and, with his speed, is able to set up teammates. Matthias does not have the
hands of goal scorer. Consequently, he will be limited on his offensive production.

Matthias crept up the CSS ranking, jumping from 89th in mid-season to 62nd by the end of the season. Matthias is not afraid to work hard,
a must for a two-way player in any league. With offseason conditioning and regular on-ice commitment, Matthias has shown the mature work ethic and dedication to improve. His size has been his greatest asset. The 6’3 center has the makings of a power
forward.

Dick Axelsson, F
62nd overall
6’2 200 lbs (Djurgarden, SWE)

Detroit’s third choice in the second round is a playmaking
forward from Sweden. Axelsson loves to hit hard and challenge opponents physically. Axelsson is 19
years old and was undrafted in 2005.

In 2005-06, Axelsson played for Huddinge, in Sweden’s J-20 league, posting 35 points and 157 penalty
minutes in 28 games. He scored 17 goals for 19 points in 23 games in Huddinge’s tier III league
as well. Axelsson has a roster spot lined up with Djurgarden of the Swedish Elite league for the 2006-07 season.

Axelsson has great size and is an aggressive and physical player. He has good timing in his hits. His skating, the intensity he plays with and his forechecking is quite good. Axelsson’s main asset is his hockey sense and he is good at finding passing openings.
His technical skills and hands are good. There is room for improvement when it comes to his defensive game and his acceleration.

Another knock on Axelsson is his work ethic; he is not known for giving a
100 percent every shift and is known to take bad penalties.

If he is able to compete at the next level in
2006-07, Axelsson has the ability to become a solid two-way player.

Daniel Larsson, G
92nd overall
6’0 170 lbs (Djurgarden, SWE)

Larsson was the only goalie selected by Detroit. The third round (92nd overall) pick was not
highly ranked coming into the draft. Larsson is 20 years old and, like countryman
Axelsson, went
undrafted in 2005. Since then, however, Larsson’s performance has been exceptional. His stock soared after he recorded .952 save percentage,
0.97 GAA, with one shutout in four games at the WJC for Sweden. Larsson recorded .920 save percentage with 2.63 GAA in nine starts with Hammarby’s J-20 team. In 28 games with Hammarby’s tier II team, Larsson posted a 2.97
GAA and .917 save percentage.

Larsson becomes the second Swedish goalie in the Detroit’s system, behind Stephan Liv. Unlike Liv’s untraditional approach, Larsson style is technically sound and his strength from strong fundamentals and positioning. Larsson is looking
forward to playing for Djurgarden of the Swedish Elite League in 2006-07. To be successful, Larsson will need to show the poise and technique he did at the
WJC routinely.

After his play in the U-20, some have compared his style and potential talent to fellow Swede and Ranger star Henrik Lundqvist.
Though a bit early for such a comparison, if he is able to continue to improve his composure and consistency, he has the potential to be one of Detroit’s
top goalie prospects. A participant in Detroit’s July camp for its goalie prospects, Larsson has shown interest in playing in North
America, but needs to show he can produce in an elite level league.

Jan Mursak, LW

182nd overall
5’10 170 lbs (Saginaw Spirit, OHL)

Mursak was drafted 182th overall by Detroit in the sixth round, and 33rd overall by the Saginaw Spirit in the CHL import draft. He is a quick and mobile skater with soft hands. Mursak was busy in 2005-06, posting 32 points in 48
games for the Czech Junior league and playing alongside Los Angeles’ center Anze Kopitar on the Slovenian National U-20 team, scoring
three goals and five points in five games. He also represented his country in the U-18, scoring a
goal and an assist in five games.
At 170 lbs, Mursak may face an uphill battle to realize his pro-level potential. Though he is
a gifted skater and passer, his size is a concern.

Mursak has elite-level skating skills in both mobility and speed. His great vision and soft hands allow him to set up his line mates. Mursak will never be a physical presence, but
he has strong character and will work as hard as anyone to improve and the Red Wings believe he has the skill and drive to develop into a Juri Hudler-type player. Mursak will
move to the OHL in 2006. His ability to
bulk up and gain strength will determine if he will make to the pros.

Nick Oslund, RW
191st overall
6’3 195 lbs (Tri-City Storm, USHL)

The Burnsville High School star left wing was the first of two Detroit seventh round picks and 191st overall. Oslund posted 22 goals and 29 assists in 25 games for 51 points for the Minnesota high school, was a finalist for the
state’s “Mr. Hockey” award.

Oslund is a raw talent and the Red Wings consider him a long-term project. He is a punishing
forward and is strong and quick on his skates. Oslund is a potential third or fourth line role player in the NHL. He recently committing to a scholarship opportunity at St. Cloud State, giving Detroit until 2011 to sign him. With plenty of time to develop, Detroit is betting that Oslund is capable of adding size and grit to its future roster.

The 6’3, 195 lb forward loves to hit and has the size to make it hurt. Oslund has
skill to add to the mix as well. Though he is still a raw talent, and needs to work on stick skills and puck control, his skating is excellent and his size and competitive nature make a formable opponent. Oslund will not be joining St. Cloud State in 2006-07, but has been placed on the protected players list of the Tri-City
Storm of the USHL along with several other 2006 picks.

Logan Pyett, D
212nd overall
5’11 199 lbs (Regina Pats, WHL)

Pyett was Detroit’s final pick at 212nd overall. The Regina Pats defenseman has played
two full seasons in the WHL and registered 45 points in 71 games in
2005-06, up from 24 points in 2004-05. He led
Pats defensemen in scoring and ended his sophomore season the ninth-leading
scorer among defensemen in the league. Pyett recorded four points in seven games for the Canadian national team at U18
World Championship.

Pyett needs to get stronger and contribute more offensively. He has good overall skill and isn’t prone to mistakes. He plays a steady game and has good all-around skill. Pyett will return to Regina next year and promises to be one
their top scoring defensemen. He will benefit from logging top minutes, but needs to focus on taking care of his own zone. Pyett should be among the defensive leaders in scoring next season. At 5’10, Pyett is able to contribute at the junior level, but will need to increase his strength to be an effective
blueliner in the pros.

Johan Nillsson contributed to this article. Copyright 2006 Hockey’s Future. Do not
reprint or otherwise duplicate without permission of the editorial staff.