Talking about a 2018 re-draft

It’s not hard to suggest that the last sin of the Ken Holland-era administration took place at the 2018 NHL draft, when the Wings passed on defenseman Quinn Hughes to take Filip Zadina with the 6th overall pick in the ’18 draft.

In retrospect, Hughes would have been a perfect fit on the Red Wings’ blueline; the fact that the then-Tyler Wright-led draft staff had Oilers prospect Evan Bouchard ranked higher than Hughes, and Zadina even higher, is a little concerning, and that’s just part of the reason why Kris Draper and company took over for the 2020 and 2021 drafts.

That being said, many Red Wings fans still believe that Zadina has star potential.

The Athletic’s Scott Wheeler is not one of those people. Wheeler conducts a re-draft of the 2018 class of prospects this morning, and he ranks Zadina as the 11th-best prospect available, with Zadina falling to the New York Islanders, due to concerns about Zadina’s ability to play at NHL pace:

11. New York Islanders: RW/LW Filip Zadina
Actual draft pick: No. 6 (change: -5) to Detroit
My final ranking: No. 3 (change: -8)

If I was right about my reluctance in ranking [Jesperi] Kotkaniemi in the top five, I was wrong about slotting Zadina there in retrospect. Zadina was the player who bounced between third and fourth on my list with Hughes and I was pretty firm in my belief that they were the best two prospects after Dahlin and Svechnikov were picked. I got one of those players right and the other wrong. I still think Zadina has one of the more high-end skill packages at the time but I should have been more cognizant of the troubles his pace and decision-making would present him as he progressed beyond the junior level and he wasn’t able to hang onto the puck quite like he was accustomed to. I still think he’s going to settle in as an offensively gifted middle-six forward who can do some damage on the power play. But I believed he was on a 60-70 point player trajectory and that now looks very unlikely.

Wheeler continues (paywall), having the Red Wings draft now-Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Adam Boqvist instead.

The good news about his re-draft is that Jonatan Berggren does slot into Wheeler’s first-round draft class at 18th overall, but the “bad news” is that the Wings’ second first-round pick, Joe Veleno, earns an “honorable mention” instead of a spot in the top 31.

18. Columbus Blue Jackets: LW Jonatan Berggren
Actual draft pick: No. 33 (change: +15) to Detroit
My final ranking: No. 20 (change: +2)

It’s no secret that I’ve been a huge fan of Berggren since his draft year, and a huge believer in his prospects as a play-creation top-nine winger if he could ever stay healthy and get a full season in. Last year, in the SHL, he finally did that, posting 45 points in 49 games to lead Skellefteå in scoring, finished sixth in the league in the third-best pro league in the world in points (as well as second in assists). And he did it all as a 20-year-old, leading the under-21 age group in points by 13. Those are all uncommon feats for a player his age, especially one who has lost the kind of development time that he has lost. And at this point in the re-rank, where you’re projecting defencemen into 4-5 roles and forwards into middle-six ones, I’ll take the most purely talented of the bunch, with the highest chance of playing in the top-six instead of the middle-six. At the time, I had several scouts question how high I was on Berggren throughout the year. And though I’m not sure those scouts would take him quite this high in a re-draft, he’s a first-rounder in the 2018 class today for sure.

I’m very admittedly not the draft expert–Wheeler is certainly immersed in the prospect world more than any of us are, so I’m not going to besmirch his name, but it does seem that he disagrees with quite a few Wings assessments as to the ceilings of Detroit’s prospect pool.

And yes, if you’re wondering what I do if I’m “not a draft expert” by any means, I’d argue that the role of both myself and every other Red Wings blogger is to pay attention to the Wings’ prospects once they’ve been drafted, even if they don’t do so on a game-by-game basis.

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George Malik

My name is George Malik, and I'm the Malik Report's editor/blogger/poster. I have been blogging about the Red Wings since 2006, when MLive hired me to work their SlapShots blog, and I joined Kukla's Korner in 2011 as The Malik Report. I'm starting The Malik Report as a stand-alone site, hoping that having my readers fund the website is indeed the way to go to build a better community and create better content.