The past year has been especially challenging for this Red Wings blogger, and the area I’ve paid the least attention to is, in all honesty, the 2020 draft.
Between the draft’s delay, the challenges of daily life during the pandemic, plain old grieving, and my belief that one should not get too attached to a prospect, I’m just getting to know the prospects that the Red Wings may or may not pick with their 4th overall pick on October 6th.
The good news for me is that, in doing some late cramming, I’m not able to form the same kinds of emotional bonds to prospects that most of you have.
That means less grumbling from this corner when the Wings pick the player we didn’t think they had their eye on. That also means more sympathy for your likely disappointment when the Wings don’t pick “your guy” (again, let’s remember that the Yzerplan nearly derailed in the public’s eyes when the team drafted Moritz Seider all of 14 months ago).
So let’s get down to it. I’ll start talking about the North American skaters that the Red Wings are likely to pick between, and you’ll continue the discussion in the comments/on Twitter/FB/etc.
I’ve never written an article like this before (I like to see more than highlight clips before weighing in on prospects), so please excuse any hiccups.
The first player for our consideration is one Marco Rossi, a 5’9,” 185-pound center who dominated with the OHL’s Ottawa 67’s as one of the oldest players available in the 2020 draft. Rossi was a very “late” 2001 birthday (he’ll turn 19 on Wednesday the 23rd; if he was born on October 1st or later, he would have been available in the 2019 draft instead), and, despite his size, the Austrian posted 39 goals, 81 assists and 120 points over the course of only 56 games for Ottawa.
There are a lot of people who feel that Rossi’s relative advantage in terms of his age was a big reason why he led the OHL and the larger Canadian Hockey League (the OHL, WHL and QMJHL) in scoring. There are also people who point out that Rossi’s dad, Marco, was a professional hockey player for 20 years, and they also note that Rossi almost chose to play pro tennis instead of playing hockey, which shows his athletic bloodlines.
In short, Rossi is “the natural” of the draft, an Austrian trailblazer in the mold of Nico Hischier–though it’s worth noting that NHL Central Scouting compares him to Brad Marchand.
Many experts also feel that Rossi is the closest player to “NHL ready” status outside of Alexis Lafreniere–and it should be noted that Rossi’s status as a European-born North American Skater affords him the opportunity to jump right into the AHL, if that’s what the team that drafts him wants him to do.
The second player for our consideration is defenseman Jake Sanderson. The 6’2,” 185-pound defenseman played for the US National Team Development Program, serving as the team captain both as an Under-17 and Under-18 player. The University of North Dakota-committed player posted 14 points in 19 USHL games this past season, and 29 points in 47 games against either NCAA college or international opponents.
Sanderson isn’t seen as possessing the same kind of offensive skill that Jamie Drysdale has, but he’s seen as a player who’s mature beyond his years, and NHL Central Scouting compares him to Charlie McAvoy. Geoff Sanderson’s son also has some NHL bloodlines, and the Montana native has a physical streak that most of top prospects do not.
That being said, there are some concerns as to how his offense will turn out, and whether he’s going to be a first-pair defenseman. As an NCAA-committed player, he’s likely going to take a slower path toward the NHL than a Rossi.
The third player we’ll discuss is the player with the most local ties, one Saginaw Spirit center Cole Perfetti. The 5’10,” 177-pound center, who’s 8 months younger than Rossi (a New Year’s Day baby, no less), finished 2nd behind the Austrian in OHL scoring, with 37 goals and 74 assists for 111 points in 61 games. The affable Perfetti is often linked to the Wings, and his “intangibles” aren’t in terms of genes as much as they are academics and charity (he was the CHL’s Scholastic Player of the Year, and he’s established a charity in Saginaw).
Perfetti may be the “local kid,” as it were, but there are concerns about his strength and speed, and as a North American-born OHL’er, he’ll be locked in to playing in the OHL again if he doesn’t make the NHL out of training camp–and his body is probably going to need the extra seasoning as a 19-year-old whose skills are still developing.
Still, the reviews of his personality and potential are glowing, and Perfetti told DetroitRedWings.com’s Dana Wakiji that he’s been interviewed repeatedly by the Wings. The scuttlebutt from the Wings’ beat writers is that “this is your guy.”
Drysdale isn’t big at 5’11” and 170 (maybe?) pounds, and the right-shooting, Erie Otters defenseman posted what seem like pedestrian numbers, registering 47 points in 49 games (9 goals and 38 assists) with a rebuilding Erie team, but it’s his skating that sets him apart in scouting reports. Drysdale’s compared to Cale Makar by the NHL. DetroitRedWings.com’s Wakiji noted that the Toronto native isn’t the consensus #1 defenseman in every draft publication–some rank Sanderson higher, some Drysdale higher–but Dobber Hockey ranks Drysdale’s potential on a 9-out-of-10 scale.
My rationale as to why the Wings might want to draft him is pretty simple: despite the fact that he needs to work on his strength, physique and skating (to some extent), Drysdale is the best natural skater among the Wings’ four likely North American options, he’s an elite puck-handler, and if the Red Wings choose to add another defenseman to the mix, I feel that they need to add the player with the highest “ceiling” possible. To me, that’s Jamie Drysdale.
Who are you picking, if you’re picking a North American at all?