Red Wings 2007 draft preview

By Zoran Manojlovic

Red Wings Top 10 prospects

1. Jimmy Howard, G
2. Jakub Kindl, D
3. Johan Ryno, RW
4. Jan Mursak, LW
5. Justin Abdelkader, LW
6. Igor Grigorenko, RW
7. Jonathan Ericsson, D
8. Dick Axelsson, LW
9. Kyle Quincey, D
10. Darren Helm, C

The Detroit Red Wings enjoyed a successful 2006-07 season, coming just short of a Stanley Cup Final appearance. Given that success, it’s surprising to see the team still owning a first-round pick in this year’s draft. In previous years, the price for a successful season has meant that the team has surrendered high draft picks.

But with the new era in the NHL, player development becomes more important. With less than a week to go before the draft, the Red Wings are still sitting at the 27th position, waiting to see what will come their way.

Team Needs

The Red Wings roster doesn’t lack much in any area. Previously the team was criticized for not being tough enough or physically prepared to go deep in the playoffs, but this season has shown that the team can perform in any kind of situation.
The team seems to be set in goal with Chris Osgood and the "soon-to-be-signed" Dominik Hasek. Hasek has stated that he wants to come back, and Detroit is really the only option for him. It’s just a matter of getting the right numbers.

On the backend, Niklas Lidström will once again be leading the troops after another Norris Trophy season. Other returnees will be Chris Chelios, Brett Lebda, Andreas Lilja and the oft-injured Niklas Kronwall. The team will need to sign Mathieu Schneider or replace him with a similar type of puck-moving defenseman. Then they will go out and look for a physical defenseman. Danny Markov filled that role very well this season, but the question is if the team can afford to sign him to an extension.

Up front, the team is lead by Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg. Daniel Cleary stepped up big time in the playoffs and was arguably the best player on the Wings team. He also has a career year in the regular season behind him and he will look to build on that success further on. Tomas Holmström provides a solid 20+ goals season and stability to the power play. Mikael Samuelsson and Johan Franzen are solid role players who can chip in offensively. Kris Draper and Kirk Maltby provide veteran leadership as well as stellar defensive play. Rookies Valtteri Filppula, Jiri Hudler and Tomas Kopecky all contributed this season and will be looking for even bigger roles in the upcoming season. Filppula in particular could be the most improved player on next year’s team. Former top prospect Igor Grigorenko will have to fight for his minutes if he can make the team. The team has to decide whether or not to sign Todd Bertuzzi, who has stated that he would love to remain with the team. If signed and healthy, Bertuzzi could be a huge impact player once again.

Organizational Strengths

There are at least two blue-chip prospects in the organization in James Howard and Jakub Kindl. Both have the potential to be high-end players in the NHL one day. Howard is just about ready to break into the NHL and Kindl has finished off his junior A career and is ready for the pro game.

Behind these two, Wings have several interesting prospects that could become a lot better players that could surprise. Jan Mursak has been ripping up the OHL in his rookie season and was also a difference maker in his short stint with the Griffins of the AHL.

Johan Ryno hasn’t been able to put in a consistent season yet, but is expected to breakthrough next season in the AHL. Justin Abdelkader, Darren Helm and Cory Emmerton all have good speed and work ethic that could help out the third and fourth lines down the road.

Jonathan Ericsson, Kyle Quincey and Derek Meech have been rock solid in the AHL and provide depth at the back end.

Organizational Weaknesses

One area that could use some reinforcements is the center position. They could use a bigger and more physical center with some offensive upside. There is only one centerman currently in the top-10 rankings here at Hockey’s Future — Helm. Helm is a smaller center who has great speed and work ethic, but he doesn’t have much offensive upside. The same could be said for the second best centerman in the rankings, Emmerton. He’s made up of the same mold as Helm, although he has demonstrated in the OHL that he possesses a slightly better vision and playmaking ability.

In the latter rounds of the draft, the Wings could go after a goalie as there are only three goalies in the system now, and one of them is playing overseas in Sweden.

Another area that could use some new blood is the right wing position. Behind Ryno and Grigorenko there isn’t much help on the horizon. A power forward type of winger with size and skating ability would be welcomed with open arms.

Draft Tendencies

In the last 14 years, the Red Wings have had just seven-first round draft picks. All seven of those have been used to select a defenseman. Going into this year’s draft, it’s a slightly smaller chance that the Wings would select another defenseman, as there seems to be a better overall depth at the forward position.  Overall, the Wings tend to draft more heavily out of Sweden than most teams, and fewer college-bound players.

Hockey’s Future Mock Draft Result: Brandon Sutter, C/LW Calgary Hitmen (WHL). If he falls all the way to the 27th place then it would be a wise decision to select the 6’3 centerman who also can play on the wing. Sutter is a solid skater who has good hockey sense and solid hands. His work ethic and attitude are required on a team that wants to win. He also has grit and some offensive upside. If he’s not available, Red Wings could go with Grand Rapids native Patrick White. He also has solid size, but he offers more offensive upside at the cost of the defensive play.

Current Draft Picks

1st round – 27th
3rd round – 88th
5th round – 148th
6th round – 178th
7th round – 208th

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