The Grind Line: 6 Red Wings Draft Options at No. 6

Much to the dismay of many Detroit Red Wings fans, the organization will once again have the sixth-overall pick in the 2019 NHL Draft.

Any dreams of choosing franchise cornerstones Jack Hughes or Kaapo Kakko have been dashed. However, there’s still a handful of talented prospects beyond the likely top two and it’s anyone’s guess which players will go in the next four slots.

In this week’s edition of The Grind Line, The Hockey Writers’ Red Wings coverage team takes a stab at Detroit’s draft board by determining the order of the six next-best players after Hughes and Kakko and the most likely choice for No. 6.

Tony Wolak

Red Wings’ Draft Board:

  1. Bowen Byram
  2. Alex Turcotte
  3. Vasili Podkolzin
  4. Dylan Cozens
  5. Trevor Zegras
  6. Kirby Dach

Arguably, Detroit’s top two needs with regard to their prospect pipeline are at center and on defense. There’s depth, but not enough gamebreakers at those two positions.

Potential Detroit Red Wings draft pick Bowen Byram.
Bowen Byram continues to make a case for himself as the top defenceman in the 2019 draft class and a potential top-five pick. (Chris Relke/Vancouver Giants)

If he’s on the board by the time the Red Wings make their selection, Bowen Byram would be an incredible addition. He would finally give Detroit a legitimate top-pairing defenseman on the back end. Byram’s skating, physicality, and offensive instincts would boost the defense of the future, which already has top prospects Dennis Cholowski and Filip Hronek.

Realistically though, Byram will have been chosen prior to No. 6. Alex Turcotte, however, may still be available and has already drawn comparisons to one of Detroit’s budding young stars:

“[U.S. NTDP coach John] Wroblewski actually compared Turcotte directly to Dylan Larkin, the prospect of which would have to excite people in Detroit. In truth, Turcotte also has something going for him Larkin did not at the same age — elite-level production. Larkin was about a point-per-game player in his U18 season, whereas Turcotte is closer to two points per game (over a smaller sample due to injury).”

(from ‘Sketching out a draft plan for the Red Wings at pick No. 6’ – The Athletic Detroit – 4/9/2019)

If Turcotte is the consolation prize, then the Red Wings are certainly in for a treat. And one that could be part of the NHL roster full-time by the 2020-21 season.

Related – Red Wings Decisions on Athanasiou, Yzerman & More

Brandon Share-Cohen

Red Wings’ Draft Board:

  1. Bowen Byram
  2. Kirby Dach
  3. Dylan Cozens
  4. Peyton Krebs
  5. Victor Soderstrom
  6. Trevor Zegras

The most obvious pick for the Red Wings remaining on the board has to be Byram, given his skill set and the need on the Red Wings blue line. He’s the best defender in this year’s class and should ultimately become the best NHL defender when all is said and done.

Byram brings strong skating, vision and hockey IQ, but lacks a little as far as positioning is concerned. There’s also some uncertainty surrounding what his offensive upside is at the NHL level. But with 26 goals and 71 points in 67 games with the Vancouver Giants this season, those concerns may have been put to rest.

If Byram is gone when Detroit make their selection, Kirby Dach might be the best player available for the sixth-overall pick. The Red Wings would be foolish to not choose Dach if he falls to them on draft night.

Potential Detroit Red Wings draft pick Kirby Dach.
Kirby Dach of the Saskatoon Blades has the size and the all-around skill to be a No. 1 center in the NHL, so don’t expect him to fall too far in June’s draft. (Steve Hiscock/Saskatoon Blades)

A pass-first center who has as much skill as he does smarts, Dach projects to be a legitimate number-one center at the NHL level with his skill set, hockey IQ, and size. At 6-foot-3 and 195 pounds, he could benefit from gaining a little more mass, but his frame is certainly already NHL-caliber. His 25 goals and 73 points in 62 games with the Saskatoon Blades are pretty easy on the eyes as well.

Related: NHL Draft Guide | 2019 Edition

Rachel Anderson

Red Wings’ Draft Board:

  1. Bowen Byram
  2. Vasili Podkolzin
  3. Matthew Boldy
  4. Trevor Zegras
  5. Alex Vlasic
  6. Alex Turcotte

My preferred first rounder for Detroit is none of the ones I mentioned, shockingly. I have watched skaters in the USHL develop all season long and have fallen in love with the game of Muskegon Lumberjacks forward Egor Afanasyev. I’ve gushed about him a few times, but with reason. He demonstrates a mature understanding of the game and has the speed to build an NHL game on. He has an offensive and playmaking mind but is also an excellent resource on the special teams – which is one area Detroit is lacking.

Egor Afanasyev of the Muskegon Lumberjacks may garner interest from the Detroit Red Wings.
Could Egor Afanasyev find himself in the top-10 of the 2019 NHL Draft? (Jenae Anderson / The Hockey Writers)

Detroit’s focus needs to be using the tools they have already. But when drafting, they need to be selecting skaters that can immediately work with the demands—mentally and physically—of the NHL. Afanasyev is large and has the distinct Russian style which would work magic if paired with fellow countryman, Evgeny Svechnikov, upon his return to the lineup.

Who should the Detroit Red Wings draft at No. 6? Share your thoughts below.