The 2019 draft’s scouting season got underway at the recent Hlinka/Gretzky Cup, and the Free Press’s Helene St. James spoke with Wings special assistant to the GM Kris Draper regarding his and the Wings scouts’ statuses as already quite busy scouting potential 2019 draft picks:
The Wings already hold 11 picks in 2019, including two-[second] round picks (their own and the New York Islanders’, via Vegas from the Tomas Tatar trade). For a team that’s likely to pick inside the top 10 again, the 2019 edition looks promising.
“Spending the week in Red Deer and Edmonton where the Hlinka Gretzky was, you can once again see there is a lot of skill out there. There are a lot of high-end centermen who are going to be in the mix for top picks, some real good Swedish defensemen, and then Finland has a high-end winger.
“Going into the draft last year with the amount of picks we had, it was highly anticipated for how it was going to play out, and in the end we felt we walked away with a great crop of young hockey players. We’ve got a lot of picks going into the draft again. You see these players now and we are going to be following them throughout the year and we’ll see where we are at in Vancouver.”
Continued at length; Draper also discusses Filip Zadina, Michael Rasmussen and the Wings’ status as a team whose players want to finish in the playoffs, despite some relatively long odds against such an eventuality:
“I know how proud NHL players are. I know the pride of the Detroit Red Wings players. They want to win. We know what we are going to get out of our hockey team, we know what we are going to get out of our coaching staff. Those guys want to do everything they can to win hockey games and make the playoffs.
“But you also realize when you have an opportunity to get four picks in the top 40, there is a reason why you get them. You are not a playoff team. We have the sixth pick in the draft, we get Filip Zadina. We have the 30th pick in the draft, we get Joe Veleno. Then we get Jonatan Berggren and Jared McIsaac. We feel that those players, with some maybe as soon as next year, but probably all four over the next two-to-three years are going to be a huge part of where this organization is going to go.
“The way you get better is through drafting and development. You can’t make your team substantially better through free agency like it used to be. Teams draft their players, they develop their players, and they sign them to long-term deals. We’re all aware of that.”