I must admit that I feel little to no excitement regarding tonight’s draft lottery (7:30 PM EDT on CBC/NBC). The Red Wings have an 8.5% chance of earning the top pick and a 26.1% chance of landing a top-three pick, but it’s more probable that the Wings will actually end up picking sixth instead of their current fifth spot, and I’m not thrilled about that.
There are some good media offerings regarding the draft and draft lottery today, with WDIV’s David Bartkowiak Jr. providing something of a draft primer, and MLive’s Ansar Khan produced a fine scouting report on the top twelve ranked skaters…
The Athletic’s Craig Custance also wrote a superb article regarding the slim probability that the Wings might land Dahlin, and it’s his words that explain why I’m trying to not be stung too hard by the high probability that the Red Wings don’t end up with the first overall pick:
“What stands out the most about Dahlin is his poise with the puck,” [Nicklas] Lidstrom wrote in an e-mail to The Athletic. “Especially playing against men in the SHL. He doesn’t seem to panic with the puck.”
He’s exactly what the Red Wings need. They need impact players. They need a top-pair defenseman. They need a young player who can play 28 minutes per night and control the course of the game. They don’t have it on their current roster. They don’t have that player in the system.
Landing him would speed up the process considerably. There’s not a compelling case for the Red Wings to pursue Tavares or defenseman John Carlson in free agency this year if they’re picking anywhere but first. But land Dahlin, and the expectation is that the Red Wings will throw their hat into those conversations. They’re not alone on this front among NHL teams.
In 2019, they’d love to be in on one of the big free-agent defensemen: Doughty, Oliver Ekman-Larsson or Erik Karlsson. Dahlin gives them a good reason to push in free agency and gives those three a legitimate reason to listen.
Custance continues (paywall), and while I fully believe that the Red Wings are going to try to bid for Carlson and Tavares (there have been indications that the Wings are interested in the latter player for a while now), it’s my job to prepare for the worst-case scenario, and every scenario in which the Wings don’t finish with Dahlin–a 91.5% probability–is worse than the best, so you’ll have to forgive me for not sharing your enthusiasm.