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.
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
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 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.
Follow Tom Mitsos on Twitter @tom_mitsos
Follow Prashanth Iyer on Twitter @iyer_prashanth