The Red Wings’ draft haul earned consensus A-minus-to-A-plus grades from assorted draft experts, especially given that Filip Zadina is seen as an offensive force who may compete for a spot out of training camp.
The Red Wings were unable to address their need for a top-pairing, offensive defenseman, however, and that particular unresolved personnel issue troubles the Detroit News’s Gregg Krupa:
There is no one in the organization currently or prospectively capable of long NHL minutes and careers as a top-pairing defenseman.
Novenas and fasting may be dedicated to the hope that Danny DeKeyser, Filip Hronek, Dennis Cholowski or someone eventually fits the bill. But the grade for drafting and developing defensemen in Detroit for longer than a decade is failing.
The Wings’ inability in the 2018 draft to arrange for anyone who rates as likely to break through, despite [Jared] McIsaac’s clear strengths, only points to the essential tasks of 2019 and 2020. And, yes, in fact, maybe 2021.
The Wings can trade for top-tandem defensemen. Good luck. Teams rarely do, these days, especially without offering one in return.
They can also sign a huge free agent. But since the last collective bargaining agreement, for which some still may have been booing Commissioner Gary Bettman this weekend, teams lock up top-pair defensemen.
When they escape, the defensemen are often shopping for a Stanley Cup.
More reason to put Hronek, Cholowski and Joe Hicketts into the Red Wings lineup. But, also, more explanation for the difficulty of the task at hand.
And at this point–despite my belief that at least one of Dennis Cholowski, Gustav Lindstrom, Filip Hronek, Vili Saarijarvi or Libor Sulak will pan out thanks to a combination of talent, inevitability and/or dumb luck, I have to believe that the Red Wings believe they have enough offensive talent to import a top-pair defenseman via trade or free agency.