The Free Press’s Helene St. James reviews the Detroit Red Wings’ last ten draft years, which span the end of the Jim Nill era and the Tyler Wright era of scouting.
You already know that the Wings did a shitty job of developing the next generation of Red Wings defensemen for a post-Lidstrom world (see: Brendan Smith, Ryan Sproul, Alexey Marchenko, Xavier Ouellet and Nick Jensen), though the Wings have rebounded fairly well over the last four years’ worth of blueline drafting; they haven’t found a starting goaltender, either, so both Nill’s late-career picks and some of Wright’s selections (especially when the Wings started to empahsize “size and strength” over potential) have been…spotty…
And as such, St. James makes the following declaration regarding the Wings’ 2020 first round pick:
He holds the fourth overall pick in the 2020 draft, as the Wings were bruised as much as possible by the lottery after finishing in 31st place. They were the only team not to reach 20 victories and lagged 30th-place Ottawa by 23 points.
A good player will be available: possible choices include defenseman Jamie Drysdale, and forwards Cole Perfetti, Marco Rossi, Lucas Raymond and Alexander Holtz. The Wings are in desperate need of a player who dominates and makes those around him better.
When they were competitive, the Wings at times used their first-round picks to acquire players who could help them continue their success. As they’ve declined over the past decade, there was a shift in approach. Now some of their recent first-rounders are the ones counted on as rebuilding blocks — and some are looking like busts.
St. James continues at length; as you probably know by now, I’m more bullish on the Wings’ prospects than most, biases included…
But I will readily admit that they have more players that need another year or two of development (see: Dennis Cholowski, Michael Rasmussen, Joe Veleno), if not more (see: every Wings goaltending prospect) than anything else at this point.
There are some players who are worth high hopes, like Filip Zadina, Moritz Seider, Filip Hronek, and the Big 3 up front (Larkin/Mantha/Bertuzzi), but the Wings are very much so a team in progress.
I’m very worried that the team’s inability to hold a summer development camp and/or fall prospect tournament will hurt the development of young players who would have benefited from two-to-three weeks working directly with the team’s development staff. By this time of the non-pandemic year, the Wings’ top prospects would be enacting the summertime recommendations of the Wings’ training staff and skill development coaches, skating among their peers during a fantastically competitive prospect tournament, and instead, they’re in the middle of what will be a ten-month break from hockey for a good chunk of the Wings’ most important prospects.
Shit happens in a pandemic world, and, as GM Steve Yzerman has suggested, we’ll see whether some of the Wings’ prospects have taken advantage of the opportunities that extended time training and working on their skills have been thrust upon them…sometime in December or January.