We’ve touched on most of the options available to the Detroit Red Wings with the sixth overall selection. However, by virtue of the Anthony Mantha trade, Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman and his scouting team have an additional first round pick in this year’s draft: pick No. 22. As many options as Detroit is considering with their first pick, they likely have double that amount to consider with their second.
Holding a second first round pick affords the team a few options. They can use the pick, trade the pick for immediate help, or use it to move back or forward in the draft. It also affords them the opportunity to take a big swing with one of their first round picks knowing that they’ll make a safe pick with the other one. One thing is for certain: with the list of things that Yzerman and the gang need to address, this is a prime opportunity to give Detroit’s rebuild a boost in a big way.
Related: Red Wings 2021 Draft Coverage
While the Red Wings will have numerous options available to them by the time pick 22 rolls around, I’ve taken the opportunity to highlight three players that I think would address some of the biggest needs that this franchise has. Due to the unpredictable nature of this year’s draft (and any draft for that matter), there’s no guarantee that any of them will actually still be on the board when it’s the Red Wings’ turn to pick a player again. That being said, if any of these guys are still available, Yzerman and Red Wings fans should be delighted at the chance to add one of these highly-talented prospects to the system.
Sebastian Cossa – (G)
If you read our latest Grind Line article, you’ll know that I showed my hand in regards to my preferred plan for this pick. At 6-foot-6, 212 pounds, Cossa is already a tower in the crease, and he still has plenty of time to add muscle and, yes, height. He takes up a lot of the net just by kneeling in the butterfly stance, and his overall demeanor in the crease suggest that this goalie does not let much get to him. Then again, if I had a record of 17-1-1 and a save percentage of .941 while playing for the best team in the WHL, I don’t think I’d let many things get me down either.
Cossa moves around the crease with relative ease, and he is super agile when using his limbs to make big saves. He seems to have command of his body at all times. He shows good instincts in terms of using his stick to either move the puck or disrupt a scoring chance, though I do note his puck-handling as an area that could still use a little work. While I would have liked to see him take on a wider variety of teams and players this season, this was the hand we were all dealt this year, and he arguably shined the brightest on an Edmonton Oil Kings team that featured fellow 2021 draft prospect Dylan Guenther. In fact, there were times when I sat down to watch Guenther that I caught myself marveling at Cossa’s play.
The idea behind this pick is really quite simple. The Red Wings are in need of a true goaltender of the future, and Cossa has shown that potential through two seasons (52 games) in the WHL thus far. If you’re going to bite the bullet and take a goaltender in the first round of the draft, pick 22 is right in the range where it makes the most sense to do it. This kid has the makings of a damn good NHL goalie, and the Red Wings desperately need someone who fits that description.
Aatu Räty – (C)
It wasn’t that long ago that Räty was considered by most to be the top prospect available in this year’s draft class. Since then, however, his play in the Finnish Liiga has left much to be desired. While he still flashes the skill that made believers out of so many, there are a handful of reasons why the Red Wings could have a shot at drafting him with pick 22.
The key for Räty is confidence and getting into his groove. There is a noticeable difference between how he plays when he’s feeling good about himself and when he isn’t. When he’s on, he transports the puck up and down the ice with relative ease, he creates opportunities from all over the offensive zone, and he’s excellent at breaking up plays and maintaining good positioning in the defensive zone. He has the goods to be a 20-goal, 60-point scorer in the NHL, but that’s only if he breaks the habit of getting in his own way. When he’s off his game, he stays to the perimeter of the offensive zone, he buckles under defensive pressure, and his shot completely disappears.
Räty is a classic “boom or bust” type of player. If Detroit played it safe with their sixth pick, this is exactly the type of player I’d like to see them take a swing on with pick 22. If he maxes out, he has the potential to be a top line center, though I think the safer bet is a solid two-way second line center with a gift for creating plays in the offensive zone. If he bottoms out, he’ll probably become a Darren Helm-type of player at best. His potential is evident, and the Red Wings are a fit for his blend of speed and skill. Detroit needs to find a prospect that has the talent to become a top six center in the NHL, and their patient approach with their prospects could do wonders for this kid as long as he’s willing to put in the work to realize his potential.
Francesco Pinelli – (C)
Speaking of Detroit’s need to add another top six center, they could look to a player that tied for second in scoring on Team Canada’s U18 World Championship roster. With 11 points in seven games, Pinelli tied with fellow 2021 draft class member Mason McTavish, and both of them finished behind Shane Wright and Connor Bedard, the projected top picks in the 2022 and 2023 drafts, respectively. But make no mistake: Pinelli did not ride the coattails of his talented teammates to that lofty point total. He has all the tools to make things happen on his own.
Pinelli might be one of the most projectable players in this draft. His game is well-rounded, and he doesn’t “cheat” for offense that would artificially inflate his point totals. He has high offensive-IQ, and he puts that on display by making creative passes in the offensive zone. He can thread a pass through the tiniest seam, and he can unload a wicked wrist shot if he has a shooting lane. His skating can be a bit clunky at times, and I think he’ll take a little while to arrive in the NHL due in part to the lack of an OHL season this year (he spent this season playing over in Slovenia.) He’s not as dynamic as some of the forwards ranked above him in this draft, otherwise we might be talking about him as a candidate for the sixth pick.
Pinelli just screams second line center. I don’t think he’ll be a huge goal scorer in the NHL, and he’ll have to make the necessary adjustments as his competition gets harder and harder, but he has the tools to be a really solid forward in the NHL. I consider Cossa and Raty to be “swing for the fences” type of picks; Pinelli is about as safe as you can go with pick 22.
- Fabian Lysell: if you read his draft candidate article, you know that the Swedish winger is ranked anywhere from second to 28th depending on who you ask. If the scouts of the NHL agree with the latter ranking, picking him with pick 22 would be an absolute slam dunk for the Red Wings.
- Fyodor Svechkov: a gifted offensive talent whose name sounds like Svechnikov – what more can you ask for!?
- Stanislav Svozil: 22 might be a little early for the Czech defender, but drafting him would bolster an already impressive group of defensive prospects that Yzerman has assembled.
- Xavier Bourgault: tenacious winger whose game is reminiscent of Montreal Canadiens forward Brendan Gallagher.
- Isak Rosen: Swedish winger who excels at creating plays in the offensive zone. Teases power forward potential.