Red Wings 2009 draft preview

By Brandon Peleshok

Like the past two out of three years, the Wings top pick comes late in the first round. They currently have possession of the 29th overall pick.

Top 10 Prospects

1. Jakub Kindl, D
2. Brendan Smith, D
3. Daniel Larsson, G
4. Thomas McCollum, G
5. Jan Mursak, LW
6. Justin Abdelkader, LW
7. Jimmy Howard, G
8. Ville Leino, C
9. Dick Axelsson, LW
10. Jonathan Ericsson, D

Team Needs

The Red Wings are coming off a Stanley Cup loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins and naturally don’t have any glaring holes. They should be able to keep the core of the team together for a while yet.

With Nik Lidstrom’s retirement looming, the Red Wings may look to insert a defender to chip in offensively. With Logan Pyett‘s first year in the AHL leaving something to be desired, they may need to look outside the organization. But Brian Lashoff did stand out during his time as a Griffin in the 2008-09 playoffs, so he is a possibility.

Perhaps the biggest need is for a reliable backup goaltender. Daniel Larsson, Jimmy Howard and Thomas McCollum are all quality players, but each comes with a considerable question mark. Larsson has conditioning issues, Howard has consistency issues, and many have questioned whether McCollum can play well in high-pressure situations.

Organizational Strengths

The strength in the Red Wings system lies in their mobile defensemen and centers. With players such as Jakuk Kindl and Brendan Smith waiting in the wings, the team may possess a defender who will soften the blow of losing Lidstrom in the next few years. Additionally, the emergence of Jonathan Ericsson as a defender who is capable of moving the puck has come as a pleasant surprise.

At the center position, Justin Abdelkader had a very successful year as an AHL rookie. During the 2008-09 post-season, Abdelkader was inserted into the Red Wings line-up and scored two key goals during the Stanley Cup finals.

Additionally, Darren Helm was able to come in once again and make a huge impact for the Red Wings. His speed and defensive ability as a forward was key on Detroit’s third line. He will become a team regular next season and graduate from his prospect status. Considering the depth Detroit already possesses at the position, this position will not be an issue for years to come.

Organizational Needs

While the goaltending prospects of the Red Wings raise many questions, there are already four of them on the Detroit depth chart. The team may look to add a project player at the position, but the team will likely wait to see what becomes of the current crop of goaltenders before they take another.  It is not a good year for goaltenders in any case.

The Wings could also use a highly skilled offensive winger. While Jan Mursak and Dick Axelsson possess a considerable deal of offensive potential, neither has really met expectations. However, with the Wings being as successful as they are, they will have to continue to rely on late-round steals.  With Ryno’s future in question, the Red Wings could look to add a skilled, bulky forward of the same mold. While Kindl and Smith remain highly touted prospects, the Wings are always looking to add to their list of puck-moving defenders.

Draft Tendencies

The Red Wings brass makes a habit of finding late-round gems that go on to flourish at the NHL level. The majority of picks by the Red Wings are Swedish born players and mobile defensemen that fit the puck-possession style the Red Wings play.

In the past three years, Detroit has selected five players out of Sweden and four players the qualify as puck-moving, mobile defensemen.
Detroit also tends to draft project players who will take time to mature and reach the NHL level. In the 2008 draft, four of their six selections could be labelled as project picks. The team tends to bring in their players very slowly, filling the holes in the team one at a time.

Hockey’s Future staff mock draft selection: No. 29 – Carl Klingberg, RW (Frolunda HC, SEL)
At 29th overall, the Red Wings may get the chance to draft a future power forward in Klingberg. He boasts an impressive 6’3, 205lbs stature, strong skating ability and an impressive work ethic. Klingberg uses his size very well, and with time he could develop the hands and scoring touch to turn into a productive power forward at the NHL level.