I was in and out of cell service while camping in Manistee for draft weekend, which means I didn’t really get a chance to put down my thoughts on the Red Wings’ selections as they happened, so I’m going to run through some of that now.
After weeks of debating Quinn Hughes over Evan Bouchard over Adam Boqvist, is it weird that not getting any of them feels a little like a letdown, even if the reason the Wings “missed out” is because Filip Zadina fell to them?
Even with the Wings’ defensive needs, Zadina was absolutely the right pick at #6. Or #5. Or probably #4. The Wings got the best player available, someone who could step into the lineup right now and contribute.
And at #30, they got another forward who fell to them in Joe Veleno, someone projected to go ten or more picks higher. At #33 Jonatan Berggren, a projected first-rounder, was still on the boardand the Wings were able to snap him up. A trio of solid steals in their first three picks set the tone for a very good draft.
Jared McIsaac and Alec Regula and Seth Barton are all solid picks in the second and third rounds and hopefully one of them can give Detroit some defensive help relatively soon, but they’re not the big names we spent so long looking at. I would have preferred Bode Wilde over McIsaac at #36 but I can’t argue with the pick. I might have just gotten overhyped about Wilde.
From there on out we have two goalies in Jesper Eliasson and Victor Brattstrom as the Red Wings desperately search for Jimmy Howard‘s heir. Detroit has gone from drafting a goalie every other year to drafting two in a single season and it’s a really weird look, to me.
Forwards Ryan O’Reilly (not that one) and Otto Kivenmaki wrap things up and I can’t help but keep coming back to the defensemen.
We keep being told you can’t get quality defensemen on the market, you have to draft and develop them yourself. The Wings desperately need help on defense. Yet only a third of their picks were defensemen and none of them were top names.
But at the same time, I can’t fault any of their picks, really. Would I sacrifice Berggren to give them the option to get both McIsaac and Wilde? I’m not sure I can sell myself on that.
Really, after getting Zadina, they could have drafted me and I’d still call this a solid draft. There’s a difference between worrying about defense and complaining about who they did pick.
Speaking of defense, Sunday night the Wings made an effort to clear some of their blueline logjam.
I think this is a sign of how the Griffins will look next year more than anything. The Wings have kept players around to help prop up the Grand Rapids roster for several years now and this summer they’re cutting them loose.
Russo has been dealt. Dan Renouf wasn’t given a qualifying offer. Add in buyout candidate Xavier Ouellet and it’s clear the Wings are trying to give room for guys like Joe Hicketts, Dennis Cholowski, and Filip Hronek. And Vili Saarijarvi, who suddenly moves from Grand Rapids’ seventh defenseman to their second pair.
Like in Detroit, next season in Grand Rapids will probably be a bit difficult. But it’ll be good for the rebuild.