Red Wings 2004 draft preview

By Zoran Manojlovic

Red Wings Top 10 Prospects

1. Igor Grigorenko, RW
2. Jiri Hudler, C
3. Niklas Kronwall, D
4. Stefan Liv, G
5. Tomas Kopecky, C
6. James Howard, G
7. Joey MacDonald, G
8. Andreas Jämtin, RW
9. Miroslav Blatak, D
10. Jari Tolsa, LW

Team Needs

The Detroit Red Wings have no imminent needs that can be addressed at this year’s draft. The front office has always worked on the long term and this is likely to continue.
A look at the Red Wings NHL roster shows that the team is among the oldest in the NHL. They have also been trying to play an offensive-minded hockey and failed to deliver the goods in the past few seasons, while teams that have a younger, more aggressive and defensive minded roster have produced.

The team needs to insert more youthful enthusiasm and speed, if it intends to stay at the top of the new NHL. Thus the team needs to find a few players in every draft and this one is no different.

Organizational Strengths

Detroit has pretty good organizational depth, which they showed this past season. When the injury bug hit the team, they were able to call up several players from the farm team, the Grand Rapids Griffins, at all possible positions and still win the President’s Trophy.

The organization is well-stocked up the middle with youngsters Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg already in the NHL, playing a significant role.

On the farm, the team has another three centers that will hopefully be regular contributors in the NHL in a not too distant future with Jiri Hudler, who played 12 games with the Red Wings last season, Nathan Robinson, who played 5 games with the big club and Tomas Kopecky who had a disappointing season on the farm.

In Europe, the Red Wings have another solid center prospect in Finnish 20-year-old Valtteri Filppula, who has had a great rookie season in the Finnish SM-Liga and shows promise.

Igor Grigorenko who will most likely remain in Russia for another season of development and rehabilitation, is among the other promising forwards.

Darryl Bootland, who has played 22 games for the Red Wings last season, the newly signed college graduate and Todd Jackson, who will add some more depth up front with his blazing speed and defensive awareness, are two others.

Goaltending is another strong position within the organization. Stefan Liv, who is currently Red Wings top ranked goalie at Hockey’s Future, has had a strong season in Sweden and is looking more and more like a future NHL goalie.

College star Jimmy Howard has had an even more impressive sophomore season with Maine and is one of the best goalies in college.

Joey MacDonald has proved that he is ready for the starting job on the farm with phenomenal play during the past season.
He will be the first call up if Curtis Joseph or Manny Legace gets hurt.

Outside the big three, there are two other signed goalies that will fight for playing time on the farm, Drew Macintyre who will most likely be the backup in Grand Rapids and Logan Koopmans, who could return to the WHL for another season.

Organizational Weaknesses

The biggest weakness within the organization is the lack of high draft picks. This year’s draft will mark the fourth year in the row that the team hasn’t had a first round selection. This isn’t a winning strategy in the long term as the team doesn’t have a chance to draft high end prospects.

The team has relied heavily on its two European scouts to find jewels with some late round picks, which has worked out so far. But the team hasn’t been able to add a big, scoring power forward through the draft since the 1990 draft where they selected Keith Primeau.

This is the biggest need that the organization has to address.

Draft Tendencies

During the last five to six years the Red Wings draft tendencies have heavily reflected their draft position. This year the team will make their first selection in the late third round, barring a trade.

This isn’t the ideal position to add some significant talent to the organization. The Red Wings have been trying to select small European forwards as well as big but lesser known defensemen.

So far, the decision to select small forwards has been a successful one, turning out in players such as Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, Igor Grigorenko, Jiri Hudler, Valtteri Filppula and the newly traded Tomas Fleischmann.
This year the team will most likely continue on the same road, hoping to steal talent in the later rounds.