Red Wings 2008 draft review

By Kathy Allworth

In light of the recent retirement of Dominik Hasek, it is no surprise that the Wings used their first-round pick to snap up a goaltender.  Tomas McCollum, 18, will join Chris Osgood, Ty Conklin, Jimmy Howard, and Swedish prospect Daniel Larsson in the Red Wings system.  The acquisition of McCollum should solidify the team’s goaltending stable for the next few years.

The Wings also picked up a defenseman and three offensive players in the draft, tapping heavily the ranks of young, college-bound players rather than going for the European talent heavily favored by the franchise in the recent past.

Thomas McCollum, G — Guelph Storm (OHL)

1st round, 30th overall
6’2, 205

McCollum, 18, is a big netminder with good lateral movement.  He demonstrates excellent rebound control, stays square to the shooter, and plays an extremely focused game. He is a very strong competitor who could be a franchise goalie for an NHL team. NHL Central Scouting had him pegged as the No. 1 rated North American goaltender in the draft.  He has spent the last two years playing with the Guelph Storm of the OHL, going 25-17-6 in 45 games last season and posting a 2.50 GAA and a .914 save percentage.  He was Guelph’s Academic Player of the Year, and received the CHL Goaltender of the Week award three times during the season. Additionally, McCollum was named OHL Goaltender of the month in December 2007.

“I tend to play a butterfly style, being a bigger guy I just try to take up space and fill holes,” McCollum said at the draft.  “I know it’s a lot of hard work to make the NHL.  It’s the best league that there is and if it takes time, it takes time.  I’m just excited to get started and put the work in.”

Max Nicastro, D — Chicago Steel (USHL)

3rd round, 91st overall
6’2, 189

The Wings took Nicastro, a self-described "finesse defenseman" who grew up playing roller hockey in California, in the third round. Nicastro has said he patterns his game after Nicklas Lidstrom.  Nicastro, 18, plays a very good all-around game, but is very responsible in his own end. He’s good puck-handling blue liner who can make a great first pass or join the rush when needed. He makes good reads at both ends of the ice and is able to get on the right side of the opposing player to attack, effectively causing turnovers with his stick work. He’s good at closing up lanes and stealing passes and has been utilized effectively in multiple roles for the Steel, playing on top power-play and penalty-kill units.  He has good offensive upside, has good vision and big shot.  Nicastro played 58 games with the Chicago Steel, (USHL) last season, logging 6 goals and 14 assists.  He is slated to return to the Steel and then head to Boston University.

Gustav Nyquist, C — Malmo Jrs (Sweden)

4th round, 121st
5’10, 169

Nyquist, a small center from Halmstead, Sweden should take some tome to develop.  He is touted as a skilled skater with good hockey sense.  Nyquist, 18, will begin his development at the University of Maine, the same school where Jimmy Howard honed his skills.  While playing for Malmo he racked up 11 goals and 20 assists in 24 regular season games.  He also five goals and five assists in seven playoff games.

Julien Cayer, C — Northwood Prep (N.Y.)

5th round, 151st
6’4, 186

The Red Wings drafted Cayer straight out of Northwood High School in New York.  He finished the season ranked 123rd among North American skaters by CSS.  He will attend Clarkson University in Potsdam, N.Y.  Scouts like Cayer’s size, skating ability and willingness to play a physical game.  Cayer is thinking ahead and ready for the work it will take to get to the big show. 

“I’m going to have to get bigger a little bit, put some weight on.  Work on my explosion,” he said at the draft.  On his decision to pass up juniors and choose college, he said “I did have the opportunity, but because I’m young I’m looking to college.  I think it’s the best way for me because I wasn’t really ready to go junior yet.

“It’s probably the best day of my life,” he said of draft day.  “Every kid wants to be drafted into the NHL and I’m there, so it’s a good feeling.

Stephen Johnston, LW — Belleville Bulls (OHL)

6th round, 181st
6’1, 175

A gritty forward, Johnston, 18, is a native of Guelph, Ontario.  He posted two goals and seven assists in 56 games with the Bulls last season. 

Jesper Samuelsson, C — Timra Jrs (Sweden)

7th round, 211th 
5’11, 178

The 20-year-old native of Stockholm was spotted at a lower level game in Sweden by Detroit scouts.  He is expected to play for Timra of the Elite League next season.  The Wings had a pretty good run with another Timra bound draftee a few years ago — Henrik Zetterberg.