The Red Wings drafted Filip Zadina and Joe Veleno in the first round of the 2018 draft yesterday night in Dallas, and many pundits suggested that the Red Wings emerged as “winners” because Czech sniper Zadina and QMJHL star Veleno “fell” to Detroit.
The Red Wings have 9 more picks this morning (rounds 2-7 take place at 11 AM EDT, on the NHL Network/NHL.com), including the 33rd and 36th picks, the 67th pick, 81st and 84th picks, so the Wings are going to be very busy today.
Of Red Wings-related note this morning:
1. The Sporting News’s Brett Schlager echoes the comments of other pundits in declaring the Wings a draft “winner”:
Winner: Red Wings
In some respects, Red Wings general manager Ken Holland is managing for his job this summer. This is a critical offseason for a team whose few promising pieces are bogged down by aging, cap-strangling players. Holland’s Day 1 haul makes him perhaps the biggest winner in the first round. Filip Zadina, the Czech winger regarded by many as the best pure scorer in the 2018 class, slipped past the Canadiens, Senators and Coyotes and into Detroit’s lap at No. 6.
Passing on Michigan product Quinn Hughes must have been a difficult decision for the defense-starved Wings, but Zadina may have been the one player worth doing so. As icing on the cake, center Joe Veleno, the sixth-ranked prospect on Sporting News’ big board, was available at No. 30 after a first-round free fall. That’s value.
2. Ken Holland and Wings director of amateur scouting Tyler Wright both spoke with the media after last night’s first round, as noted by MLive’s Ansar Khan:
“Obviously, we thought Zadina would go in the top five and we’re certainly thrilled to get him,” Holland told NHL Network. “You always need scoring, and then obviously with Joe Veleno, we got great speed. So, a great draft for us so far in the first round. We’re happy with two high-skilled players.”
Wright told media at the draft the staff likes “everything” about Zadina (Halifax, QMJHL).
“Obviously, the ability to score goals,” Wright said. “We tried to pick him apart – how creative is he? How good is his hockey sense? He wasn’t a one-trick pony that would just score, he’s got good hockey sense, he creates plays, he’s a good character kid, he competes, he kills penalties, he scores in various ways, he’s got a good release, just a very good overall offensive hockey player.”
Wright wouldn’t speculate on how close Zadina is to the NHL.
“He’s physically mature. Mentally, he’s a mature kid,” Wright said. “He’s played international levels already — he had seven goals in seven games at the World Juniors last year. He went with the Czech Republic to the World Championship for the pre-tournament games, so he’s played against men. He’ll determine (when he’s NHL-ready) ultimately when he comes into camp, but I’m sure we’ll give him every opportunity.”
3. In the paid content department, The Athletic’s Craig Custance just happens to have followed Zadina during his draft day, and Custance penned a behind-the-scenes description of Zadina’s experiences:
It was 102 degrees outside when Filip Zadina walked into the American Airlines Center to find his seat a couple rows up from the floor on the first night of the 2018 NHL draft. He’d spent Friday afternoon at the Dallas aquarium with his family, passing the time and calming his nerves. He was nervous, because he had no idea where he’d be picked.
He thought maybe Montreal. A couple days earlier, he saw Canadiens assistant general manager Trevor Timmons at their team hotel and told him if Canadiens passed on him, he’d fill the nets in Montreal with goals.
“He was laughing,” Zadina told The Athletic. “It was just a joke.”
No. 3 overall to Montreal was as high as Zadina was going to go, with Rasmus Dahlin and Andrei Svechnikov virtually locked in with the first two picks. Zadina isn’t the kind of player who thinks about how low it might go. He remembers meeting with the Red Wings, picking at No. 6, at the draft combine but didn’t think much of it. They seemed nice enough, but he figured he’d be gone by the time they were on the clock.
Truth be told, he had no idea where he was going to go in this draft. Nobody did.
Custance continues (paywall)…
4. The Athletic’s Max Bultman also penned an article about the Wings’ first day in Dallas:
At first, it was a joke: If Filip Zadina somehow drops to (pick No. 6), will you be sprinting up there to the stage?
Holland made light of the scenario before answering, broadly, “We’re going to get a good player.”
As it turned out, they got two. And just as important, there was no trade, nor was one needed. The Red Wings held onto all of their chips and, as a result, ended up cashing out bigger than they could have realistically hoped on Day 1.
Detroit got Zadina at No. 6, and, equally surprisingly, ended up with Drummondville (QMJHL) center Joseph Veleno at their second pick, No. 30.
Securing two players of that caliber — Zadina ranked No. 3 and Veleno ranked No. 11 in Corey Pronman’s final ranking — was a success on its own. That the Red Wings pulled off that haul without sacrificing any additional assets made it one of the best first rounds of any team in the building — at least through the rose-colored glasses of draft night.
“We were real happy,” said Red Wings director of amateur scouting Tyler Wright. “If you would have told me that we were walking out with Veleno at 30, I would have been shocked.”
Bultman also continues (paywall)…
5. In the multimedia department, the Detroit News sent a videographer to Dallas, so here’s Tyler Wright’s press scrum…
Here’s Ken Holland on the NHL Network…
Update: Hockeybuzz’s Bob Duff has carved out a niche as something of a contrarian, and this morning, Duff complains about the Wings’ lack of defensive picks:
The way the draft fell, all of the high-end rearguards not named Rasmus Dahlin were still on the board as Detroit stepped to the podium. Noah Dobson. Quinn Hughes. Adam Boqvist. Evan Bouchard.
Take your pick. The Wings chose none of the above. Detroit better hope that Dennis Cholowski turns out to be something else.
Now, we’re not saying that Zadina was a bad pick. In fact he’s an elite scorer, a guy with a nose for the net and a hunger to light the red lamp. And he’s a pretty fair playmaker to boot.
Zadina, who dropped from his projected status as third overall and was passed over by Montreal and Ottawa, two of Detroit’s Atlantic Division rivals, is more than excited to be a Wing.
“I told my agent (ex-Wing Ryan Barnes) if they will pass on me I’m going to fill up their net with pucks,” Zadina said of teams that didn’t select him. “I just want to prove to them they did a bad decision. I just want to prove to Detroit they made a good decision.”
There’s just one issue with this selection – who’s going to get the puck up the ice so Zadina can work his magic?
The NHL has become a league where mobile, puck-moving defenseman ignite the attack. You’ve watched the Wings defense in action. Most of them lumber up the ice like a freight train rumbling through your neighborhood. Outside of Trevor Daley and Mike Green, their puck skills and mobility isn’t the least bit pretty. And Green, a UFA, could be gone by next week.