The Seattle Kraken announced their thirty Expansion Draft selections on Wednesday night, including the pick of Dennis Cholowski from the Detroit Red Wings.
Cholowski was Detroit’s first-round pick in the 2016 Entry Draft but had a hard time sticking in the Red Wings’ lineup.
I didn’t want for the Wings to lose Cholowski, but at the same time I don’t feel bad that they did. Maybe he’ll thrive in a different environment. He’s not a Red Wing anymore so I don’t care either way.
But his departure causes me to look back at the Wings draft picks from that era with disappointment.
Going back to the 2014 draft, first-rounder Dylan Larkin is the only player to have established himself in the NHL. Dominic Turgeon is still in the organization and Christoffer Ehn played with the Wings for a bit but Chase Perry, Julius Vahatalo, Axel Holmstrom, and Alexander Kadeykin never made it.
From 2015, first-rounder Evgeni Svechnikov hasn’t been able to regularly crack the lineup. Fifth-rounder Chase Pearson might have fourth-line potential. Vili Saarijarvi was traded away for a goalie who was waived after two games, Joren van Pottleberghe doesn’t seem to have a future in North America, Patrick Holway is unsigned and Adam Marsh never made it.
In 2016, there was the now-departed Cholowski, Givani Smith and Filip Hronek selected in the second round, and then Alfons Malmstrom, Jordan Sambrook, Filip Larsson, and Mattias Elfstrom. Hronek is Detroit’s top defender right now and Smith probably has a spot on the fourth line. Larsson could recover his college form, but the others are a loss.
Finally, there’s the 2017 draft, the first one where the team couldn’t deny that a rebuild was underway. The Red Wings stocked up on third round picks that year, looking for as many “lottery tickets” as possible. Those third-rounders ended up being Kasper Kotkansalo, who has yet to sign with Detroit; and Lane Zablocki, Zach Gallant, and Keith Petruzzelli, none of whom signed. Michael Rasmussen came out of the first round and Gustav Lindstrom came out of the second. Then there was Malte Setkov, Cole Fraser, Jack Adams, Reilly Webb, and Brady Gilmour. Of those, only Adams still has a chance in Detroit.
So over four years, four first-round picks in the top twenty, and thirty-one draft picks overall, what the Wings have to show for it is Larkin, Smith, Hronek, Rasmussen, and Lindstrom. A top two center, a fourth liner, a top four defenseman, a third liner, and a third-pair defenseman. If you really want to reach, maybe Svechnikov still pans out. Maybe Kotkansalo or Adams or Larsson does something.
That’s just abysmal for a time frame where the team’s core was aging and they really needed to be gearing up for the future.