This is a big draft year for the Detroit Red Wings. They have the 18th pick of the draft, which is the highest pick they’ve had since drafting Martin Lapointe in 1991. This will provide the organization an excellent opportunity to fill some of the teams needs. But what are those needs? At the beginning of the 2012-13 season experts and fans alike were screaming for the Red Wings to add to the Lidstrom-less defense corps, however the blue line no longer seems to be the issue. Kronwall proved he is the Red Wings leader on the back end, Ericsson and Kindl both drastically stepped up their game, and with the addition of Danny DeKeyser and the number of quality Defensemen in the Red Wings prospect pipeline, the defense corps seems to be far from the issue. What the Red Wings really need are sizable forwards up front. Sizable forwards that not only bump n’ grind, but possess the ability to score as well. There are a few forwards that fit that description that could fall to the Red Wings #18th spot this year.
- Anthony Mantha, 6’4″, 201 lbs, LW/RW, Val-d’Or (QMJHL) A giant at only 17 years of age, Mantha was the only player in this year’s draft class to score 50 goals this season. He skates well for his size, is good on the power play, has a great hockey IQ, and shows up big in shootouts. The only thing he lacks is consistency. Scouts complained that he was almost invisible some nights – which is hard to do when you’re 6’4″ 201 lbs. Had he been less inconsistent he may have been a top 5 draft pick this year. But regardless, he possesses all the skills and abilities to be a major offensive threat in the NHL one day, and could be a steal for the Red Wings at #18.
- Frederik Gauthier, 6’5″, 209 lbs, C/W, Rimouski (QMJHL) Gauthier has climbed the scouting lists this season and has become a potential top-flight center. His solid offensive skills and impressive size complement his strong skating ability and complete, 200-foot game. He loves to use his size advantage to go the dirty areas, but at the same time plays a smart defensive game that results in very few penalties. He possesses the kind of two-way game that Red Wings coach Mike Babcock loves.Most draft rankings have him falling right around Detroit’s 18th pick.
Just because this is the highest draft pick the Red Wings have had since the early 90’s doesn’t mean they’ll necessarily use it. In the 2011 draft the Red Wings were awarded the 24th pick of the draft and ended up trading down for a pair of second round picks. With those second round picks the Red Wings selected the Datsyukian winger Tomas Jurco and defensemen Xavier Ouellet, who was called one of the most complete blueliners in that years draft. It would not be surprising if the Red Wings repeated this strategy, as they are notorious for trading away their first round picks. If they do, it’s likely that they would target Michigan native Mike McCarron.
- Michael McCarron, 6’5″, 229 lbs, RW, U.S. National Development Team (USHL) For a man of such mammoth proportions, he also possesses a good level of skill. He’s no Pavel Datsyuk of course, but his size more than makes up for that. He loves to play in front of the net, where he can easily screen goalies and bang in rebounds and deflections. His size and weight advantage also make his board play almost impossible to match. Skating is not his strongest attribute, but it has been improving ever since he joined the U.S. development team. McCarron is a right-handed shooter as well, something the Red Wings are in desperate need of. The native of Macomb, Michigan will likely be a high second round draft choice, but could end up as a late first rounder.
Another option for the Red Wings this season is selecting a top tier goaltender. Besides Jimmy Howard and Petr Mrazek, the teams goal-tending depth is suspect. Thomas McCollum, the Wings 30th overall pick in 2008, seems to be a bust and on his way out. Likewise, Jake Paterson and Jared Coreau still have a lot to prove. If the Red Wings opt to select a goaltender this year they may be faced with the option of selecting the best goaltender in this years draft class: Zachary Fucale.
- Zachary Fucale, G, Halifax (QMJHL) It’ll be tough for most teams to pass on the best goalie available in the draft. Fucale had an impressive 45-5-3 record this season, with a 2.35 goals-against average, .909 save percentage, and two shutouts. Not exactly an easy feat for a goalie playing in the offensively powered QMJHL. He’s also coming off a championship mentality, as he backstopped the Halifax Mooseheads all the way to a memorial cup championship. He could fall to the early second round, but don’t be surprised if he’s selected late in the first.
Regardless of what strategy the Red Wings use in the draft this years, the team is bound to add some significant prospects.
Detroit Red Wings writer for The Hockey Writers and Michigan State hockey writer for spartanavenue.com