Wings Focus on Forwards at Entry Draft

Centers and wings made up six of the Detroit Red Wings' eight selections at the NHL Entry Draft this weekend. Detroit also selected two defensemen and no goalies after picking University of Maine standout goaltender Jimmy Howard with their first pick in last year's draft.

The Red Wings' first selection came with the second-to-last pick of the first day of the draft, 97th overall at the end of the third round. Detroit selected 24-year-old center Johan Franzen of Linkoping in the Swedish Elite League. The 6-foot-2, 207 pound role player could contribute for the Grand Rapids Griffins, Detroit's AHL affiliate, immediately and earn a roster spot with the Red Wings later.

In the fourth round, the Red Wings picked 18-year-old center Evan McGrath from Kitchener of the Ontario Hockey League. The 6-foot, 181-pounder has all the tools to be a star in the NHL but didn't put up the numbers expected of him last season in Kitchener. The Wings hope he will get back on track in the OHL next season.

Siarhei Kolasau was the Wings' first defensive selection, made in the fifth round with the 151st overall pick. At 6-foot-4 and 187 pounds, he is a punishing blueliner in the mold of former Red Wing Vladimir Konstantinov. Unfortunately, the 18-year-old's game is still undeveloped and he needs to spend more time in Europe before the Red Wings will bring him to North America.

Smallish center Tyler Haskins of the OHL's St. Michaels Majors was Detroit's second pick of the fifth round at 162nd overall. The 18-year-old has everything but size, at 6-foot-1 and only 177 pounds, he will need to bulk up if he hopes to put his skills to use.

Role players Anton Axelsson and Steven Covington were selected in the fifth and sixth rounds, respectively. Both have shown an inability to finish that left them overlooked through the early rounds of the draft. If they can bulk up in the next several years, they may get a shot at making the AHL or the NHL.

The Red Wings' selected Gennady Stolyarov in the eighth round at 257th overall. The 17-year-old is projected to be a long-term project for the Red Wings. He has decent offensive skills and at 6-foot-4, 187 pounds, he has some size, but how he matures will determine how far he goes in the Detroit organization.

Detroit's final pick in the draft, 290th overall in the ninth round, was long-shot defenseman Nils Backstrom. Backstrom celebrates his 18th birthday this week and has plenty of time to develop but only time will tell what chance he has of ever coming to North America from Europe.

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