Of Red Wings draft-related note this evening, having been posted after this afternoon’s draft wrap-up post:
A. On a collective basis:
1. The Red Wings’ brass, namely director of amateur scouting Tyler Wright and director of European scouting Hakan Andersson, spoke about the 2018 draft class as building toward the “rebuild on the fly,” as noted by MLive’s Ansar Khan:
“I thought we had a good day again,” Tyler Wright, the club’s director of amateur scouting, told media in Dallas.
It comes on a heels of what many considered a great day, when the Red Wings walked away with high-scoring right wing Filip Zadina (No. 6) and two-way center Joe Veleno (No. 30), players most projected to go higher.
“When you see how fast the game is played, when you look at (Andreas) Athanasiou and (Dylan) Larkin, Dennis Cholowski, they’re all skaters,” Wright said. “When you have a mix of some bigger-bodied wingers, with (prospects Evgeny) Svechnikov and Givani Smith, and Tyler Bertuzzi plays a robust kind of game, we want to be fast, with speed, we want to try to get big. At the end of the day, we wanted skill. That was pretty much the theme going into this draft.”
The Red Wings took Berggren (5-10, 181), who played for Skelleftea’s junior team in Sweden, at No. 33. Hakan Andersson, Detroit’s director of European scouting, likened him to Nashville’s Viktor Arvidsson.
“A really speedy forward who plays with great intensity and has a good feel for the net,” Andersson told media at the draft. “A couple of teams said they were planning to take him right after us. Montreal was one of them.”
2. The Athletic’s Corey Pronman gives the Wings a rare “A” grade for their drafting efforts…
The Wings had a massive Day 1, injecting nearly as much talent as Buffalo did. Jonatan Berggren is also a high-upside player. The picks after that I was less enthusiastic about. Jared McIsaac is fine, No. 36 is a little high for me, but he wasn’t likely going to be available at No. 67. The later round guys were a lot of big guys who I didn’t see a ton from. I don’t think Wings fans should care that much though, because with their first three picks they injected a ton of talent into their system.
Pronman continues (paywall)…
3. The Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan took note of Wright and Andersson’s remarks…
“Today was just as important as yesterday,” said Tyler Wright, the Wings’ director of amateur scouting. “We had a good day again.”
Wright said it was important for the organization to add skill in this draft — speed and skill are vital in today’s NHL — and he felt the Wings accomplished that with their 10 picks (they traded a sixth-round pick to Columbus for the Blue Jackets’ fifth-round pick in 2019).
After seeing Zadina and Veleno essentially drop into their laps Friday, the Wings opened Saturday with two other players falling into their clutches to begin Round 2.
Forward Jonatan Berggren (No. 33 overall) and defenseman Jared McIsaac (No. 36) — a Halifax teammate of Zadina — both were projected to be late first-round picks, but fell into Saturday’s portion of the draft.
Berggren is a 5-foot-11, 183-pound right wing who scouts feel could turn into a dangerous two-way player — capable of big numbers offensively, while also dogged defensively.
Berggren needs to gain strength — he’s too small right now — but is being compared with Nashville’s Viktor Arvidsson, who has evolved into a premier NHL player.
“Real speedy forward, great intensity, and he has a good feel for the net,” said Hakan Andersson, the Red Wings’ European scout. “We’re happy to have him for sure.”
4. ESPN’s Emily Kaplan and Greg Wyshynski deemed the Wings to be draft-day “winners”…
Winner: Red Wings
Filip Zadina might be the surest scorer in this draft, and somehow — miraculously — he fell in the Red Wings’ lap at No. 6 overall. This is a winger who can play as soon as this season, even in a top-six role.
The Red Wings then capitalized on another draft faller, when center Joseph Veleno was available at No. 30. Detroit’s biggest need was defense, and the Wings addressed that with three defensemen during the next two rounds.
Detroit is embarking on a total makeover, and this draft couldn’t have gone any better for GM Ken Holland, who has been on a roll since the trade deadline after bringing in a haul for Tomas Tatar. Apparently, reports of Holland’s demise have been greatly exaggerated. The Red Wings being good again is fun for everyone!
[edit/update: ESPN’s Chris Peters also praised the Wings‘ selections…
First-rounders: I think Filip Zadina has a chance to be a major contributor and could make the NHL as early as next season. His offensive skills obviously jump out, but I’ve always been impressed by the energy with which he plays, his relentlessness in puck pursuit and his commitment to doing whatever is necessary. His ability to make plays at high speeds, transition quickly from defending to attacking and score goals at a high rate helped him secure his lofty position in this draft class. He has the puck skills to beat defenders one-on-one, create extra space for himself and give himself more options. Zadina can step into the lineup right away, possibly even into the top six, and make Detroit a better team.
Joseph Veleno is not truly elite at any one thing, but he’s effective in all zones, strong on the puck and committed to playing strong defensively. Veleno’s offensive skills are also strong, highlighted primarily by quick hands and some shiftiness. I think there are legitimate concerns about his overall upside given his lack of substantial progression in the QMJHL. That said, I still see him as a future middle-six center who can make an impact at both ends of the ice. It just might require a season or two in the AHL after his QMJHL career wraps up.
Draft assessment: In a year when Detroit had to be sharp with its picks, it also got a little lucky with how their first round shook out with Zadina and Veleno falling to where they did. That’s a huge boost, but it got even better in the second round with highly skilled scoring winger Jonatan Berggren going with the Wings’ first second-rounder. Berggren has stood out as a higher-end skill player who can get by defenders and create chances for himself and his teammates. Jared McIsaac had been dropping, but still has some decent upside on the back end. The Red Wings took more risks with their mid-round picks, but the quality of their first four picks already put them in the “A” category for me. Their prospect system gets a needed boost and they have an instant-impact player in Zadina.
5. CBS Sports’ Cody Benjamin gave the Wings a high draft grade…
Detroit Red Wings: A+
They should be absolutely enthralled with what transpired this weekend. Even if you look just at the first round, they landed maybe the draft’s second-best goal-scorer at No. 6 in Filip Zadina, then got another steal with center Joseph Veleno at No. 30.
6. And NHL.com’s Adam Kimelman praised the Wings scouts’ work:
Detroit Red Wings
Detroit got full value with the 10 picks it used, starting with the selection of arguably the top offensive talent in the draft, Halifax right wing Filip Zadina, at No. 6. In his first season in North America, Zadina led rookies in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League with 82 points (44 goals, 38 assists). Then at No. 30, the Red Wings selected skilled, hardworking center Joseph Veleno.
“We were surprised (Zadina was available),” Red Wings GM Ken Holland told NBCSN on Friday. “Obviously, we thought Zadina would go in the top five, and we’re certainly thrilled to get him. A guy that can score. You always need scoring. And then obviously with Joe Veleno, we got great speed. … We’re happy with two high-skilled players.”
In the second round (No. 36), they picked Halifax defenseman Jared McIsaac, who was No. 13 on Central Scouting’s final ranking of North American players. Third-round pick (No. 67) Alec Regula of London (6-3, 203) won’t turn 18 until Aug. 6 but was second among OHL rookie defensemen with 25 points (seven goals, 16 assists). Madison right wing Ryan O’Reilly, selected in the fourth round (No. 98), scored 21 goals in 45 USHL games.
B. And on an individual basis:
1. Defenseman Alec Regula, is the Wings’ resident “hometown pick,” as noted by the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan…
Regula, who was selected in the third round of the NHL Entry Draft Saturday in Dallas, is a West Bloomfield native who won a state championship as a freshman at Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook-Kingswood.
He’s currently playing with London in the Ontario Hockey League, and was the defensive partner of Evan Bouchard, who the Wings scouted heavily and eventually was drafted Friday by Edmonton (10th overall).
Regula was a Wings fan growing up — his favorite player was Valtteri Filppula — and Saturday, he was able to slip on a jersey officially.
“It was something really special, being it’s my hometown and everything,” said Regula, a 6-foot-4 right-handed shooting defenseman. “After meeting with them (in Buffalo during the scouting combine) I was thinking they liked me. I wasn’t too shocked, but when a team (finally drafts you), it’s a sigh of relief.”
But there’s more to the connection to the Red Wings. And for that matter, the Lions and Tigers, too. Regula’s father, Chet, was a longtime dentist for all three teams.
The Free Press’s Helene St. James…
He helped his chances of being drafted by the Wings after being “a great interview at the combine,” director of amateur scouting Tyler Wright said.
“He’s kind of been a kid that’s been a little bit of a late bloomer. He’s obviously got a history with the Red Wings with the family. He’s driven. Big. Had a good year in London.”
Regula, who lives in West Bloomfield, said he went to bed on Friday dreaming about what played out on Saturday.
“I saw the Wings had a lot of picks in the third round and that’s kind of where my territory was,” Regula said. “So I was thinking, maybe, and then when we there, they waited a while in that 3 minutes. I didn’t know what they were going to do. They were talking a lot. When I was picked, it was a sigh of relief. No words.”
And the London Free Press’s Ryan Pyette:
“I have a ton of jerseys and hats and stuff like that,” he said on the phone from Dallas. “I don’t even remember the first time I put on a Red Wings jersey. It was probably before I even knew what I was doing.”
As soon as he heard his name called, he turned to his dad, who told him, “It doesn’t get any better than that.”
The big rearguard from West Bloomfield, Mich., is used to seeing a lot of the current Wings players on a daily basis. They work out at the same gym.
“It’s definitely a comfortable feeling getting drafted to your hometown team,” he said. “The whole weekend was pretty awesome.”
Regula will head home for rookie camp on Tuesday. He is also invited to USA Hockey’s summer camp for world junior selection.
“I’m really proud of that,” he said, “and hopefully, I make that team. I’m super happy with my decision to come to London (after walking away from a University of Michigan scholarship last year). The way the staff helped me and to have the year I did and how it’s all kind of coming together now, no regrets.”
3. Jared McIsaac may bring the most physical pop of any of the Wings’ draftees, as noted by the Free Press’s Helene St. James:
After drafting forwards with their first three picks, the Wings nabbed McIsaac, who was teammates with Wings first-round pick Filip Zadina in 2017-18 in Halifax.
“To be drafted by the same team is pretty special,” McIsaac said. He’s a smart, strong skater, a puck mover with an eye for a good outlet pass who is dedicated to defending.
“I’m not afraid to mix it up physically, but I think I’m a solid two-way defenseman and puck mover,” McIsaac said. “I worry about my end of the rink first and then jump in the offense.”
McIsaac had been projected to go in the first round.
“He’s a steady defenseman, hard-nosed player, skates well,” Wright said. “He’s a good penalty killer, plays against the best players. Plays physical. We like a lot about his game.
“We tried to target a little bit of defense going into this draft, and things kind of happened — we had Berggren really high on our list and couldn’t pass up the skill. So that was the reason with the 33 pick, and with McIsaac, we like the defense, we like what he brings to the table as far as with the mixture of the kids we’ve got. I think he’s going to be a pretty good complement to that.”
4. Ryan O’Reilly–not the Buffalo Sabre–was the Dallas draft’s “hometown kid,” though he has some Motor City ties. The Dallas News’s Gerry Fraley profiled O’Reilly…
The football coaches at Southlake Carroll High School always had a question for Ryan O’Reilly.
“They’d joke around and ask me why I’m not on the football field,” O’Reilly said. “Most people think it would be a no-brainer for me to play football, especially with how good they are, but I always loved playing hockey.”
O’Reilly’s passion was rewarded on Saturday. Detroit selected O’Reilly with the 98th overall selection in the NHL draft, sparking joyful noise from about 40 family members and friends at the American Airlines Center.
“It’s really special for me,” O’Reilly said. “It’s awesome to have this happen in Dallas.”
O’Reilly is a product of the Stars’ amateur programs. He learned the game in the pipeline and played two seasons (2015-16 and 2016-17) with the Stars under-16 Tier One team.
O’Reilly, 18, left Carroll after his junior year to play for Madison, Wis., of the USHL. He had 21 goals and 34 points in 45 games this season.
As did the Fort Worth Star-Telegram’s Peter Dawson:
It also helped that the man who recruited him to the University of Denver, Jim Montgomery, was now the head coach of the Stars.
On Saturday, the young power forward got the next best thing. In the fourth round of the draft, he was taken by the Detroit Red Wings with the 98th pick.
“Kids like this are the product of the north stars being moved to dallas.. he’s a big kid, missed some time.. Needs to work on his skating, but he can really score, said E.J. Hradek of the NHL Network.
O’Reilly scored 21 goals and tallied 34 points in 45 games for the Madison Capitols of the United States Hockey League last season.
In Saint John, even without becoming the superstar many believed he’d turn into, coaches and management never felt he was a disappointment.
“Joe, woo, what can you say about Joe? Joe is an exceptional player and an exceptional person. High character, honest, hard-working, committed, loves hockey, mature, just an exceptional, exceptional guy,” said Sea Dogs general manager Trevor Georgie on a phone call. “One of the biggest compliments I can give Joe is that if I were to billet I would take Joe in a heartbeat because he’s just that type of person.”
In his first game as a 15-year-old in the QMJHL, he scored. Months later, he was killing penalties in the third round of the playoffs.
By 16, he was one of the most important players on a title-winning Sea Dogs team that played its way to the Memorial Cup.
“He had more points in his rookie season at 15 than Jonathan Huberdeau had at 16 just to remind everyone. Maybe it hasn’t continued to evolve at the level that some had expected. Last season was a great season, it was also a bit of a challenging season because you have a talent like Joe that had come back from a good U17s, he was almost a point a game there and he’s playing mostly behind names like Julien Gauthier and Mathieu Joseph,” Georgie said.
Oftentimes, his defensive ability and his ‘status’ have overshadowed how gifted he is offensively. Against his peers, he has proven he can be a force. In 2016, Veleno was the youngest player on Canada’s Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament roster and finished second on the team with four points in as many games. In 2017, as the team’s captain, he led Canada in scoring with seven points in five games.
Wheeler continues (paywall), and Veleno’s coaches adore him.