Of Red Wings draft-related note this morning:
- The Free Press’s Helene St. James penned an article about the Wings’ decision to draft Simon Edvinsson with the 6th overall pick…
Simon Edvinsson checked the box for best prospect available Friday when the Wings made their selection at No. 6, after defensemen Owen Power and Luke Hughes and centers Matty Beniers, Mason McTavish and Kent Johnson were off the board. Edvinsson is a 6-feet-4, skilled, mobile, physical Swede who the Wings see as a player that can help move the rebuild forward.
“He’s a big, rangy D that can really skate,” Yzerman said. “He’s got good puck skills. We just see his potential to be a defenseman that can log a lot of minutes, a left shot defenseman that can log a lot of minutes and be a solid defender that can add some offense to the game as well. We like his skating ability, his size and his reach.”
Edvinsson, 18, boosts a defense corps prospect that is headlined by 6-4 Moritz Seider, Yzerman’s top pick in the 2019 draft. Seider is poised to join the Wings this fall; Edvinsson is most likely going to stay in Sweden and play for Frölunda, but at some point the hope is the two will be towering powerhouses on Detroit’s blue line.
“Once you are a solid defensive hockey team, you’re going to be competitive and you can win a lot of nights,” Yzerman said. “Over time, we’ll be able to add to the offense.”
2. St. James also wrote an article about the team’s 15th overall draft pick, goaltender Sebastian Cossa…
The more they talked to Cossa in pre-draft interviews, the more the Wings liked him.
“He engaged with us,” director of amateur scouting Kris Draper said. “He asked us some questions about being a Detroit Red Wing. I thought that was pretty good and very mature of him, to ask questions to us.”
On another call, Draper called on former teammate Chris Osgood. Few could give better insight into how tough it is to be a goalie in Detroit than the guy who wept after giving up the series-clinching goal in the first round of the 1994 playoffs and a guy who backstopped the team to the Stanley Cup in 1998 and 2008.
“Ozzy had two stints and he was able to talk about the early days of his career and he told some real valuable stories that I think Sebastian really appreciated,” Draper said. “And then he also talked about when he came back on his second stint and how he was a different goalie. I think that conversation really registered with Sebastian.”
3. Then, the Free Press’s Carlos Monarrez took note of the team’s decision to add “on the back end” instead of addressing another glaring organizational need in adding offense to the prospect mix…
After the first round, Yzerman and assistant general manager Kris Draper spoke about the value of building a championship team through a strong defense. It makes sense, since defensemen get of ton of ice time and have long careers. But I asked Yzerman where the urgency was for improving the offense when you consider so much capital has been spent on the defense lately.
“Improving the offense and more specifically upgrading our pool of forward prospects is something we’d like to do ultimately in this draft,” he said. “Again, we feel our approach is we’ll take the best possible prospect and where we were picking at six we had zero hesitation or debate over who we were taking at that pick. If you look at our team, and you look at our pool of prospects, we have a lot of offensive wingers.”
Yzerman mentioned 2020 No. 4 overall pick Lucas Raymond and 2018 second-round pick Jonatan Berggren as key prospects who will join talented players like Dylan Larkin, Tyler Bertuzzi, Jakub Vrana and Robby Fabbri.
“We’ve got a lot of guys and a lot of wingers,” he said. “We do need to score more. But ultimately you can’t do everything in one season, you can’t do everything in one draft. And again, we’ll look at all different ways to improve our offense. But for us to say like we need a top-six centerman, look at free agency and tell me if there’s one there for us to get.
“It’s an area we have to improve on and we’ll continue to address it. But it’s simply just taking time to build a team and we’ll try to balance it out. We’ll continue to try to pick the best prospect available in the draft and look at opportunities via trade or free agency as well as the draft to see if can’t complete not only our pool of prospects but fill out a stronger, deeper, more complete roster as well.”
4. WDIV’s David Bartkowiak Jr. focused upon the Wings’ decision to trade up to take Cossa at 15th overall…
GM Steve Yzerman made use of his picks surplus, something he has emphasized the importance of since he took control of the team. Yzerman said before the draft that his staff was planning to take the best player available, no matter the position. His focus, however, clearly has been on goaltending this week since he also traded UFA Jonathan Bernier and a draft pick for 25-year-old goalie Alex Nedeljkovic and then signed him to a two-year deal on Thursday.
During the ESPN draft broadcast, Yzerman said the addition of Nedeljkovic allows them to be more patient with Cossa.
That makes a lot of sense, yes. The Red Wings now have a clearer future in net with much more potential than the team has had in a while.
It’s also a very smart move based on how the 1st round played out because the talk heading into this draft was that Cossa and Jesper Wallstedt (ended up going 20th overall to Minnesota) would go in the top 20, perhaps top 15. Yzerman waited until the 15th pick to step in and make the move for Cossa, the player he and his staff apparently thought was best available at that point.
When the sixth pick came around in Friday night’s draft and highly-touted forward William Eklund was still on the board, Yzerman said there was “zero hesitation or debate” for Detroit to take defenseman Simon Edvinsson. And when the Wings had to package three picks to trade up for goalie Sebastian Cossa at No. 15, Yzerman decided “it was worth it to do that.”
The Red Wings emerged from the first round with two potential fixtures of their future.
“I think it’s imperative to have a good defense to win championships,” Yzerman said.” You’re not winning without a good goalie and you’re not winning without a good D core. Once you are a solid defensive hockey team, you’re going to be competitive and you can win a lot of nights. And over time we’ll be able to add to the offense.”
The Wings didn’t draft by need on Friday, certainly not at No. 6. Yzerman was clear about taking the best prospect available. They were following their board, which is built by their own values. The Red Wings value defensemen. Their decision to take Moritz Seider sixth overall in 2019 makes even more sense in hindsight. And now a pairing of Seider and Edvinsson makes sense looking ahead.
“We just see his potential to be a defenseman that can log a lot of minutes and be a solid defender who can add some offense as well,” Yzerman said of Edvinsson. “We like his skating ability, his size, his reach and we’re hoping he can become a big-minute defenseman for us.”
6. The Athletic’s Max Bultman spoke with Sebastian Cossa’s coach with the Edmonton Oil Kings to seek insight as to what makes Cossa an asset…
Minutes after Detroit called Cossa’s name Friday, Oil Kings coach Brad Lauer offered a good bit of perspective on that matter.
“He was a big part of the reason why we had success,” Lauer told The Athletic. “We had a good team, but he was a really big part of our success. We didn’t play perfect hockey, that’s for sure. And when we didn’t play perfect hockey, he was there to bail us out.”
Lauer called Cossa’s athletic ability “tremendous,” which is where the imagination finds room to wander with him and his potential.
“He’s been able to make some saves — when I look back at some of the saves he’s made for us — where he doesn’t quit on the puck and he’s able to make those back door, empty net saves,” Lauer said.
Adding that kind of goaltender to the pipeline checks a massive box for the Red Wings, who between this pick and the Nedeljkovic trade finally seem to have a clear succession plan in net.
7. The Athletic’s Scott Wheeler discussed the Wings’ status as an “overtime winner” for their first-day-of-the-draft picks…
I understand the urge to take Edvinsson here, even knowing that the Red Wings pool is relatively loaded with big D prospects with Moritz Seider, Antti Tuomisto, and William Wallinder. He finished at the back end of the top group on my draft board, but he started the year ranked second on my preseason list in September after wowing me in SHL preseason action at the time. I still think the holes are greater for the Red Wings in terms of impact forwards than defensemen, and I think both William Eklund and Dylan Guenther are better prospects even without considering that need, but Edvinsson’s true ceiling is hard to pass on. He’s got unbelievable hands for a 6-foot-4 defenseman, he plays a fearless game with and without the puck, and his length allows him to fill space defensively. The raw tools are there. He’s got work to do on his shot and his decision-making, but the idea of him is really exciting.
The Cossa pick made a ton of sense at 15, even though I’m partial to Wallstedt as the better of the two goalie prospects in this draft. I wondered whether the acquisition of Alex Nedeljkovic would deter the Red Wings from going after a clear need in their pool in net, but there comes a point in any draft where you have to go after your guy and they would have done their homework on Cossa this season well before the Nedeljkovic deal. The Red Wings have also taken and/or acquired a ton of goalie prospects in recent years, but the best of that bunch (Keith Petruzzelli) remains a bit of a long shot. Cossa isn’t.
Do I think they would have been better off with Eklund and Wallstedt with their two picks? Yes. Definitely. But that doesn’t mean you should be too sour about the direction they did go.
8. And DetroitRedWings.com’s Josh Berenter just filed an article discussing the Wings’ first-day haul:
Red Wings director of amateur scouting Kris Draper said he was extremely pleased with the way things worked out for Detroit in the first round.
“Simon Edvinsson was our highest ranked prospect on our board and that’s how we came to the selection of announcing his name,” Draper said. “When you think about the prospects that we have coming on the back end and the size that we have, it’s obviously very exciting to add Simon to that to that group.
“And it just seemed everyone that we were talking to were real big fans of Sebastian. Real excited to be able to add Sebastian to the organization. A 6-foot-6, athletic goaltender with very good technique and technical points in his game. It was something that we felt was very intriguing to the Detroit Red Wings.”
The 2021 NHL Draft wraps up Saturday with Rounds 2-7, beginning at 11 a.m. After the trade with the Dallas Stars on Friday to acquire Cossa, Detroit has six picks remaining, including in the second round (38th overall), third round (70th overall), two picks in the fourth round (102nd and 128th overall), fifth round (134th pick) and sixth round (166th overall).