Detroit’s scouting staff waited more than five hours at their draft table watching as other teams selected their future players. Having traded their previous picks throughout the 1998-1999 season , Detroit broke ( in fact smashed ) an NHL draft record by not making a selection until the 120th overall pick. Rumors had the Wings attempting to get back into the first round but nothing ever came of those. Clubs knew the talent level in this draft was high and with the salary structure way out off kilter, other teams were not listening to many offers.
In the end the Red Wings stated that they wanted to find one NHL player in this draft if possible. Judging by earlier drafts, this was an imposing task to say the least. Looking back at drafts as early as 1983, players taken 120th overall or later had less than 10% chance of ever playing in the NHL as a regular. In fact, only about 8 players a year on average ever make it more than a year or two if taken after the 120th pick. For Detroit to find one of these “diamonds in the ruff “, the scouting staff had better done their homework.
Traditionally, the Detroit Red Wings draft what they consider to be safer players. They look for skaters that have great character and maybe less upside. The 1999 draft was a bit different however. Jim Nill, Detroit’s head scout said, “We went for the home run…. we were looking for the next Pavol Demitra.”
With the Red Wings early exit in the playoffs this spring, it leaves one to wonder what is next for the team of the 90′s. The future does not look that much brighter than Detroit’s hockey plans for the remainder of the summer. The team is likely to have several new faces at the start of training camp in the fall. Name tags may even be required for a team that has not seen a great deal of change for several years save for some deadline deals.
This spring the Wings traded much of their future to ensure success this playoff season. After trading a top forward prospect ( Petr Sykora ) and a 3rd round pick for the return of Doug Brown last fall, the Wings parted with what little future they had left in March. Anders Eriksson and TWO first round picks ( 1999 and 2001 ) were sent to Chicago for Chris Chelios. A 2nd and 3rd rounder were sent to the Rangers for Ulf Sameulsson, while a 2nd rounder and prospect goaltender Kevin Hodson were moved to Tampa Bay for Wendel Clark. That leaves the Wings with no pick sooner than the 4th round in the 1999 draft and no 1st rounder in 2001. As a result of the 1997 Brendan Shanahan deal that sent their 1997 pick to Carolina , the Wings will have two 1st rounds pick in a span of five years. Not the things that champions are made from.
Wondering if the two time Stanley Cup Champions are going to be able to continue their success into the new century? Here is a look at the last four drafts and what those players are doing today. For a full profile on each player, go to the Red Wings team page.
1st Round ( 26th overall ): Maxim Kuznetsov, D , 6-5 215 Adirondack ( AHL ) : Detroit’s 7th rated prospect.
Comments: After having a strong season as a rookie in 97/98 for Adirondack, Maxim had a poor training camp this year with the Red Wings and has the organization wondering if he has the skills to be an NHL blueliner. Though he moves well for a big man and has a solid shot from the point, he does not play like the giant that he is. Kuznetsov has a hard time making an effective pass out of the defensive zone to allow the forwards to transverse the neural zone with speed. His size will get him several chances to finally make it to the NHL, but the fact that he has been a healthy scratch several times in the AHL might tell the story after all is said and done. One thing for certain, Kuznetsov will spend at least one more entire year in the AHL before being given any opportunity to play in the NHL.
GP G A P PIM +/-
37 0 3 3 24 n/a
2nd Round ( 52nd overall ): Philippe Audet, LW, 6-2 190, Adirondack (AHL ): Detroit’s 6th overall prospect.