What’s The Grind Line? Apart from the once-famous line of Kris Draper, Kirk Maltby, and either Joe Kocur or Darren McCarty, The Grind Line is also The Hockey Writers’ weekly column about the Detroit Red Wings. This week, Devin Little, Raymond Harrison, and Tony Wolak are the muckers who make up THW’s forechecking unit and sound off on Red Wings topics.
The NHL draft lottery has now come and gone and the Detroit Red Wings are set to draft fourth overall – their highest pick since 1990. While it’s upsetting that the worst team in the NHL this season did not end up with the first pick, there’s still plenty of talent to be had at the No. 4 spot.
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For this exercise, we’re going to assume that Alexis Lafrenière, Quinton Byfield and Tim Stützle have all been taken before the Red Wings’ pick at four. Will they pick up a forward? The blue line could still use attention. Heck, might they even target a goalie!? Here’s what our writers have in mind for the pick:
Devin Little: Lucas Raymond
There’s a group of four or five players that I’d be alright with at fourth overall. I also think there’s a possible scenario where the Red Wings could draft Stützle, and if they can, they should. But after much consideration, I’m throwing my support behind Raymond.
Before Stützle’s rise to prominence, Raymond was a common choice to round out the top three behind Lafrenière and Byfield. The play-making winger from Sweden produced 10 points in 33 games while playing in the SHL, an impressive accomplishment for somebody who just turned 18 at the end of March. He won’t be ready to make the jump to the NHL right away, but he already has some big-league tools in his kit.
There are some top-notch talents also available at this spot. As I said, there’s a number of them that I could get behind. That being said, imagining a line of Raymond, Joe Veleno and Filip Zadina makes me excited. If the Red Wings do indeed call Raymond’s name when the draft occurs, then you should be excited as well.
Tony Wolak: Lucas Raymond
This selection comes with the caveat that Lafreniere, Byfield, and Stutzle are chosen with the first three picks in the draft. After them, Lucas Raymond is the best player available, in my opinion. That said, Marco Rossi is a close second given his offensive upside and elite character that the Red Wings tend to covet.
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But with Raymond, Detroit gets an offensive superstar in the making with experience playing against men in Sweden’s top league. Raymond’s calling card is his hockey IQ, which will pair well with scorers like Filip Zadina or Anthony Mantha down the road. His vision, shot, forechecking, and skating are all above-average, too.
Raymond Harrison: Jamie Drysdale
There are still several high-skill forwards available after the presumptive first three come off of the board, but my selection for the Red Wings goes to Jamie Drysdale. He is the prototypical new-age defenseman that can drive play at both ends of the ice. I find that the forward class in the 2020 draft is remarkably deep, so the Red Wings can find some sizable value up front with their three second-round picks.
The thought of pairing Drysdale alongside Mortiz Seider and Filip Hronek is enticing. Likewise, if any of Antti Tuomisto, Jared McIsaac, Dennis Cholowski, or Albert Johansson develop into reliable blueliners, then the team’s defense core could be their strength. I like Lucas Raymond and Marco Rossi a lot, but Drysdale’s elite skating talents earn my vote.
Marco Rossi is a future top-six center in the making, as is Cole Perfetti. Either of them would make a fine addition to the Red Wings’ future depth chart. Alexander Holtz is quite possibly the best shooter in the draft. Adding a player with the potential for 40-goal seasons is always a solid bet. And of course there’s Yaroslav Askarov, the top goalie available in the draft. He has been called the best goaltending prospect since Carey Price.
If it isn’t clear yet, the Red Wings are in a position to add a player that could become something special. A top-three pick would have been nice, but now it’s time to accept and assess the situation. Who would you like to see the Red Wings select at fourth overall?