Red Wings Looking For Some Frontline Talent

By Todd Shreve
With the Red Wings forward prospects cupboard bare, the chance of losing 2 promising young players in the expansion draft, an aging roster, and no #1 pick in 2001 it will be critical for the Wings to pick up 2 or 3 forwards with some skill in this years draft. With this in mind GM Ken Holland sent a large portion of his scouting staff to Europe at the end of the season, hoping to uncover a few talented forwards.

The Red Wings have only 3 or 4 forwards in their organization with a good chance of making an NHL roster, and none of them has 1st or 2nd line talent. They have not drafted a contributing NHL forward since Tomas Holmstrom in 1994, and have not drafted a 1st or 2nd line player since 1990 when they picked Keith Primeau and Slava Kozlov.

In the coming expansion draft (June 23rd) the Wings stand to lose 2 of the following young players(C-Stacy Roest, LW-Daryl Laplante, D-Maxim Kuznetsov, D-Yan Golubovsky, G-Manny Legace). The Wings decided it was more important to protect proven NHL veterans Kris Draper and Kirk Maltby, so it looks like the future is still being mortgaged in hockeytown.

If either Kuznetsov or Golubovsky go unselected the blue line prospects will be fairly solid. Jiri Fisher looks like a potential NHL allstar. Jesse Wallin is ready to make the long awaited jump to Detroit next year. Golubovsky and Kuznetsov are both large Russian defensemen that have been slow to develop. This year both progressed nicely, Golubovsky with Detroit in a limited role, and Kuznetsov with the Cincinnati Mighty Ducks, where he led a losing team with a +18 rating. Ken Holland may have picked up a future NHLer in Dwayne Zinger a free agent signee last year out of Alaska Fairbanks. Dwayne a 6’5″ 225lb defenseman had 10 goals in 34 games for the Nanooks.

The core of the great Red Wing teams of the 1990’s was built in the drafts of 89, 90, and 91. In those 3 drafts the Wings picked up Nick Lidstrom, Sergei Fedorov, Vladimir Konstantinov, Martin Lapointe, Chris Osgood, Primeau, and Kozlov, along with 6 other NHL regulars still playing today.

Picking from the back of the pack will make it difficult to get the kind of talent the Wings need to replenish their farm system. Chances are most talented North American forwards will be gone when the Wings are called to the podium. It will be interesting to see how their decision to scout Europe pays off.