Now that the Detroit Red Wings have wrapped up their 2018-19 season, it’s time to focus on the 2019 NHL Draft.
On Apr. 9, the NHL will announce the order in which the first 15 selections will be made in this spring’s draft. With the fourth-worst record, the Red Wings still have a decent shot at the first-overall selection and can pick no later than seventh.
With that being said, let’s take a look at Detroit’s odds of receiving each draft slot and potential picks. The Red Wings will certainly have the opportunity to select a difference-maker, but which highly touted prospects will be available when Ken Holland steps up to the podium?
First-Overall Pick – 9.5 Percent
Nothing to see here, just Jack Hughes. The Red Wings would be lucky to select a franchise-altering, offensive dynamo like Hughes, who is clearly the top player in the 2019 draft.
Second-Overall Pick – 9.6 Percent
Just below Hughes, Kaapo Kakko is the consensus second-best player available this year. The Finnish winger has been compared to Mikko Rantanen of the Colorado Avalanche and is likely to start the 2019-20 season in an NHL team’s top-six.
Third-Overall Pick – 9.7 Percent
Here’s where things start to differ. Depending on which rankings you’re looking at, Bowen Byram or Vasili Podkolzin could be chosen after Hughes and Kaako. Even The Hockey Writers’ draft experts vary on the third-best player:
Arguably, the Red Wings need a top-pairing defenseman more than a top-six winger, so Byram would make the most sense here. However, there’s still plenty of time to evaluate and interview the possible selections to find out which would have the most impact in a Red Wings uniform.
Fourth-Overall Pick – 2.8 Percent
It’s odd that the Red Wings have the smallest chance to pick fourth of any draft slot, considering the fact that they have the fourth-worst record.
Nonetheless, one of Byram and Podkolzin will be available at four. Perhaps both will be – not many in the hockey world expected the Arizona Coyotes to choose Barrett Hayton fifth-overall last year. Maybe the team choosing third throws us another curveball.
Either way, the Red Wings would luck out to receive one of Byram or Podkolzin. The former could develop into a top-pairing defenseman within a few seasons and the latter plays with a little sandpaper, but can still wow you offensively.
Fifth-Overall Pick – 26.1 Percent
If the Red Wings choose fifth, it’s likely that Hughes, Kakko, Byram, and Podkolzin will be off the board, leaving a handful of other potential top-ten selections available.
Dylan Cozens, Kirby Dach, Alex Turcotte, and Trevor Zegras probably have the highest ceilings of the available players and can all play center, though Cozens and Zegras may be better suited on the wing like Detroit’s Michael Rasmussen. Of the four, Turcotte appears to be the most appealing in this spot given his speed, 200-foot game, and offensive skills.
Sixth-Overall Pick – 34 Percent
Luckily, only one of Cozens, Dach, Turcotte, and Zegras will be chosen fifth, leaving three available for the Red Wings if they choose sixth – their most likely draft spot.
If Turcotte goes fifth, then the Red Wings would probably prefer Zegras over Cozens and Dach. The American center brings some serious offense to the table and would pair well with Filip Zadina given his elite playmaking skills.
Seventh-Overall Pick – 8.3 Percent
Last but not least, the Red Wings could choose as low as seventh in the 2019 draft. Fear not, there will still be high-end prospects available.
At least two of Cozens, Dach, Turcotte, and Zegras will be on the board. Plus, there’s U.S. snipers Matthew Boldy and Cole Caufield and Canadian center Peyton Krebs to choose from.
Worst-case scenario, the Red Wings still come away with a quality prospect who will be able to push for an NHL roster spot sooner rather than later. Of those still available, Dach represents the best option for Hockeytown – he can play center and has elite offensive skills that would mesh well in Detroit’s top-six.