Drafting the All-Time Red Wings All-Star Team

For the first time in as long as I can remember, the Detroit Red Wings will not be represented at the 2015 NHL All-Star game. There will be no Red Wings players, no Red Wings coaches, and even the Red Wings mascot was left out of the festivities. With that being said, fellow THW Detroit Red Wings Contributor Tom Mitsos and I decided that we would hold our own All-Star Draft except with one catch – we could ONLY draft Red Wings players. We decided to see who could draft a better team to win a seven game series.

Ted Lindsay (front) and Gordie Howe (rear) are just two of the Red Wings featured on the all-time all-star team

All-Star Draft Rules

1. Can only draft players who have played at least 100 games in a Red Wings uniform

2. Must draft 12 forwards, 6 defensemen, and 2 goaltenders

3. Try to remain as close to position-specific as possible (i.e. can’t draft 12 centers and use them at the different wing positions)

4. Consider line combinations, team chemistry, and playing style

All-Star Draft Results

Round Tom Mitsos Prashanth Iyer
1 Gordie Howe Nicklas Lidstrom
2 Steve Yzerman Alex Delvecchio
3 Ted Lindsay Pavel Datsyuk
4 Brian Rafalski Terry Sawchuk
5 Dominik Hasek Sergei Fedorov
6 Henrik Zetterberg Brendan Shanahan
7 Brett Hull Vladimir Konstantinov
8 Brad Stuart Paul Coffey
9 Tomas Holmstrom Norm Ullman
10 Slava Kozlov Chris Chelios
11 Niklas Kronwall Reed Larson
12 Igor Larionov Sid Abel
13 Adam Oates Marcel Dionne
14 Larry Murphy Darren McCarty
15 Martin Lapointe Mickey Redmond
16 Luc Robitaille Kris Draper
17 Slava Fetisov Brad McCrimmon
18 Jimmy Howard Kirk Maltby
19 Doug Brown Gerard Gallant
20 Jiri Fischer Chris Osgood



Prashanth’s All-Star Team

Line 1:

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Line 2:

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Line 3:

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Line 4:

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Defensive Pairings

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Prashanth’s Draft Strategy and Player Combinations

I deferred the first pick to Tom to see how he would play this. The Red Wings have a plethora of talent on offense, defense, and goaltending, so there were a number of ways to play this. I decided to favor defense and pick a strong, well-rounded defensive corps. The obvious choice was Nick Lidstrom. I wanted my defensemen to be tough to play against, but have the ability to contribute offensively. I would expect significant offensive production from Lidstrom, Coffey, and Larson. I personally wouldn’t want to have to play against a defensive pairing of Chris Chelios and Brad McCrimmon. The level of physicality they would bring would intimidate even the toughest of opponents.

I knew by selecting Lidstrom first, I would essentially be forfeiting both Gordie Howe and Steve Yzerman. Some might say that is reckless, but as I already mentioned, I think I have a defensive group that can match that. What I decided to do offensively was pick several well-rounded players that could contribute offensively as well as be counted on to backcheck. Delvecchio, Datsyuk, and Fedorov were all excellent defensive forwards that could light up the scoreboard.

All three of my top lines are balanced, have guys who can create plays, and have guys who can finish them. I have a 50-goal scorer on my 1st, 2nd, and 3rd lines. Plus, I have speed throughout the lineup, and we know from watching the 2014-2015 edition of the Red Wings that speed can be brutally effective and underappreciated. Finally, I had to bring in the Grind Line to match up against the opposition’s best line, allowing my top line to play with the puck more.

Why My Team Would Win

Tom’s team is clearly loaded offensively, but I think my team is equipped to match his offensive firepower with unparalleled defensive excellence. I think my team would have a chance to lock down even the best offensive teams and win a lot of 2-1 and 3-2 games. This team has speed, skill, physicality, high hockey IQ, and a strong defensive mindset. Tom’s team can definitely score, but I have probably the best defensive pairing of the last 25 years in Nick Lidstrom and Vladimir Konstantinov. The guys on my blue line can punish the opposition’s forwards, move the puck quickly, and jump into the play in key situations. On the other side of the puck, I think the speed of my forwards could pressure his suspect defensive corps into a lot of in-zone turnovers, where my plethora of 50-goal snipers could bury the chances. I definitely like my chances in a seven game series.

Tom’s Team

Line 1:

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Line 2:

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Line 3:

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Line 4:

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Defensive Pairings

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 Tom’s Draft Strategy and Player Combinations

Prashanth granted me the honor of picking first, so my No. 1 pick was a no-brainer. I had to go with the guy who holds the franchise record for goals and points. There’s a reason Gordie Howe is nicknamed Mr. Hockey.

My next couple of picks were pretty easy, as there were a lot of good names to pick from. I chose Steve Yzerman, Ted Lindsay and Brian Rafalski for my first defenseman. Prashanth took Nicklas Lidstrom with his first overall pick, so I chose one of his best defense partners.

My first goalie came at the No. 5 pick with Dominik Hasek. Again, Prashanth was one step ahead of me and took Terry Sawchuk with his fourth pick.

After filling out my top lines with Henrik Zetterberg, Brett Hull and Brad Stuart on defense, I decided to take Tomas Holmstrom with my ninth pick. Holmstrom’s net-front presence was one of the key factors in the Red Wings’ four Stanley Cups from 1997-2008. If I want any chance of beating Sawchuk in net, I need Holmstrom in front screening him and deflecting shots from the point.

The top line was pretty easy to assemble. I used 2/3 of the production line and put Yzerman at the center spot instead of Abel. The second and third lines were a bit trickier. I decided to put Holmstrom on a line with Zetterberg and Hull. Holmstrom will establish the net-front presence, Zetterberg is the essential two-way player and Hull is a pure goal scorer. I thought about putting Holmstrom on the third line but decided I wanted him there with the goal scorer and the playmaker.

So my third line of Kozlov, Oates and Lapointe is a hybrid checking line. Lapionte is there for a physical presence, but Kozlov is more of a goal scorer than grinder. The fourth line of Robitaille, Larionov and Brown is not really a fourth line, but it’s a good mix of goal scoring and grittiness.
As far as the defensive pairings go, I tried to match up an offensive defenseman with a defensive defenseman.

Why My Team Would Win

Prashanth’s team is very solid, with the likes of Sawchuk, Lidstrom, Pavel Datsyuk, Alex Delvecchio, Chris Chelios and Sergei Fedorov, but I think my team has the advantage. The top line of Howe, Yzerman and Lindsay will be a deadly scoring line, and then with Holmstrom’s net-front presence on the second line, I believe I’ll be able to get a few goals past Sawchuk.
Both bluelines are very solid, and the eccentric play of Hasek will be able to make some key saves when my team needs it the most.

If you had a time machine and suddenly had the opportunity to draft your all-time Red Wings all-star team, what would it look like? Post your teams in the comments.

Which team would win?

Tom’s Team
Prashanth’s Team
No idea

Poll Maker

Follow Tom Mitsos on Twitter @tom_mitsos

Follow Prashanth Iyer on Twitter @iyer_prashanth

30 thoughts on “Drafting the All-Time Red Wings All-Star Team”

  1. cool Article! Really Enjoyed Reading It. Was Pretty Shocked OF A Couple Names Not Taken thougH. Mainly Ciccarelli Or ShepaRd. Think I’m Leaning Towards Prashanth Team. Defense Is Wicked. Plus To Have Fedorov AnD Datsyuk In There prime On The Same line, That’s Deadly. Great Job Guys!

    • Hey George, great question! It’s tough for the Wings because you have 3 great coaches in the team’s history in Babcock, Scotty Bowman, and Jack Adams. You could make a strong case for any of the three to coach the team. If I was given first pick on coaches, I’d have to go with Scotty though.

  2. Rafalski ahead of Coffey or Chelios?

    I’d put Kozlov on Tom’s fourth line, just so Doug Brown can be Doug “Brownov” again!

    • I considered everyone you just mentioned but I left each one of them off for a different reason

      Ebbie Goodfellow – When thinking about centers for my team, once I landed Delvecchio, Datsyuk, and Ullman, I felt like I had 3 top scoring centers and I wanted a strong checking line so I opted for Draper instead of Goodfellow

      Syd Howe – In hindsight, I probably should have taken him over Gallant. Howe was an all-around player who could play in every situation, but I was attracted to Gallant’s allure as a power forward who could mix it up.

      Marty Pavelich – Pavelich didn’t bring enough offensively to the table for me. He scored 93 career goals in 634 games and I knew that once I let go of Yzerman and Howe, I had to think offensively for my top 3 lines

      Bill Gadsby – Gadsby didn’t join the Wings until the tail end of his career when he was 34 years old. In thinking about the type of player I was going to get at that time, I opted for other players.

      Marcel Pronovost – Pronovost was a great defensemen for the Wings who spent a large majority of his career in a Red Wings sweater. For me, he didn’t bring enough offensively. His best offensive season was scoring 9 goals and 34 points. Even “Beast” had a season where he topped 40 points.

      Definitely some great player options and that’s what happens when you have a history as rich as the Red Wings. Some of the best players in franchise history still get left off, even after taking the top 40 players! Thanks for commenting!

  3. No Red Kelly! He went on to play with Toronto because Jack Adams was a tool and helped Leafs win another 4 cups. Wings never won another without him until the 90s

    • Right you are Chas! If we were to do a “snubbed” article, I’d imagine that Kelly would be #1 on that. As for my team, I left him off because once I landed Lidstrom, Coffey, and Larson, I wanted more physicality and toughness from the remaining three defenders. I took Konstantinov early and decided to round out my defensive group with a tough pair of Chelios and McCrimmon.

      • PI. Even though Kelly won the Lady Byng a number of times he was considered one of the toughest defensemen in hockey. Nobody would tangle with him as he was an amateur boxer and had boxed the ears off a number of pugilist. I had the opportunity to ask Gordie Howe about Kelly and he told me Kelly was one fellow he was happy not to tangle with.

        • Wow that must have been one great opportunity to talk to Gordie! I personally only know Kelly’s playing style from what I have been able to seen on old game footage so I guess I never had a great appreciation for his physicality. Thanks for sharing

    • Probert was a tough omission for me. I wanted grinders who would be able to score and play well together, so that’s why I leaned towards the Grind Line, and then Shanahan. If I could re-draft, I probably would have found a way to take Probert.

  4. Tom’s first line is excellent, but Prashanth beats him in depth, line matchups, defense, and goaltending.

    I do like Prashanth’s second line better than Tom’s, and he has a true fourth line. Defensive pairings are great too. His team could wear Tom’s down, but still have scoring too.

    • Thanks for the feedback Michael! Your line of thinking is similar to what I was thinking when I was drafting

  5. Good match-ups. I really can’t say which team has the advantage. Now i’ll draft my team with who’s left over. Slim pickings, but I think I can field a semi-competitive team. I’ll have to make do with position, because I have like two centers:
    Line 1: Gustav Nyquist – Robert Lang – Johan Franzen (prime)
    Line 2: Dino Ciccarelli – Keith Primeau – John Ogrodnick
    Line 3: Pat Verbeek – Anthony Mantha (My 1 cheat. If not him, then Helm) – Tomas Tatar
    Line 4: Bob Probert – Daniel Cleary (prime) – Joe Kocur
    Depth: Shawn Burr

    Defensive pairings:
    Pair 1: Mathieu Schneider – Danny DeKeyser
    Pair 2: Marcel Pronovost – Red Kelly
    Pair 3: Jonathan Ericsson – Steve Chiasson
    Depth: Rick Zombo

    Mike Vernon
    Curtis Joseph

    If the game gets too out of hand, I’ll just have Probie, Kocur and Primeau goon it up.

    • I love the team Jim! Not sure about your 4th line (no true center), but you have players who could definitely light up the score sheet. I maybe would have opted for Ray Whitney instead of Anthony Mantha, but your defensemen and goaltenders are on point. Where does Manny Legace fit in to the goalie picture though? Little known fact, but he has the highest career SV% for a Red Wings goalie

      • I considered Whitney, especially since we don’t know much about Mantha. But I’ve decided to jump on the, “Mantha will be the next NHL superstar” bandwagon.

        I’m also worried about the 4th line center problem, but you guys did not leave me with much to choose from. I actually considered Sheahan, but I did not want to leave off (prime) Cleary. I might consider moving Tatar (or even Mantha) to 4th line center and Cleary up to 3rd line wing. One thing is sure, no one will mess with Tomas or Anthony there.

        I also considered Legacy over Joseph; but despite the criticism, I was a Joseph fan while he was here. I still believe we would have gone on to win the Cup if we had gotten past Anaheim. But Giguere was a brick wall in that series.

  6. I wonder how it’d go if you were able to do it over… I’m entirely surprised by both first round picks and that Rafalski went before Federov. I love the grind line Prashanth!

    • Hey Jared, I definitely think if I was doing this over, I would have probably grabbed Yzerman with my first pick. Once I forfeited Yzerman and Howe, I knew my defensive group had to be better than his

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