The Detroit Red Wings will select eighth overall in the 2022 NHL Entry Draft. The draft lottery took place on Tuesday night, and Detroit stayed put at eighth rather than fall one or two places. The Montreal Canadiens were lucky enough to win the lottery, going from playing in the Stanley Cup Final in 2021 to drafting first overall in 2022.
Here’s a look at the 10 most recent eighth-overall picks to help Red Wings fans manage their expectations about who might be selected on July 7. Players at this spot are drafted for their skill and potential as well as how likely it is that they will maximize that potential. Some players on this list are hard to remember as prospects, but every eighth-overall pick was selected with the hopes of them becoming a franchise-altering player.
2021: Brandt Clarke – Los Angeles Kings
It is far too early to say how this pick turned out, but so far, he seems solid. Clarke was a bit of an enigma in his draft year since he played overseas in Slovakia when the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) season was cancelled.
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This season, Clarke scored 59 points in 55 games as a dominant two-way defender for the Barrie Colts. While there are no conclusive statements to be made here, Clarke looks the part of a future top-4 defender, on the right-side no less.
2020: Jack Quinn – Buffalo Sabres
Here is another pick that is too early to evaluate fully, but it does seem to have been another solid choice. Quinn has been excellent in the AHL, scoring 70 points in 60 games over the last two seasons. He is part of an excellent youth movement brewing in Buffalo’s American Hockey League squad (the Rochester Americans) alongside Peyton Krebs (who graduated to the NHL after 18 games) and John-Jason Peterka.
2019: Phillip Broberg – Edmonton Oilers
Here is yet another pick that is a bit too early to call a win or miss, but he seems like a pick that is developing . . . just okay. Broberg has had a few solid seasons in the Swedish Hockey League (SHL) since he was drafted and has played exceptionally well in the AHL this season, leading to a callup for 23 NHL games.
Broberg seems likely to soon become a top-4 fixture on Edmonton’s blue line, considering their lack of high-end defensive depth. The only thing holding this pick back from being excellent is the group of players drafted shortly after Broberg in 2019, including Trevor Zegras, Vasili Podkolzin, Matthew Boldy, Cole Caufield, Alex Newhook, and Peyton Krebs, who were all selected within the next nine picks. It may be hard for Broberg to live up to the success of the players drafted right after him, but this pick is still likely to be a success in the grand scheme of Oilers’ draft picks.
2018: Adam Boqvist – Chicago Blackhawks
I was about to say that Boqvist is another pick that is a bit too early to decide on but then realized he has already played 128 NHL games. Boqvist is only 21 but has the potential to become a right-handed Quinn Hughes (the player selected immediately before him), an electric offensive defenseman with excellent skating and puck-handling skills. Boqvist was a great pick considering there was no other “no-doubter” prospect in the first round aside from K’Andre Miller.
2017: Casey Mittelstadt – Buffalo Sabres
This pick has not aged well, as Mittelstadt has had a rather disappointing start to his NHL career. Coming into his rookie season, he was expected to be in heavy competition with Elias Pettersson of the Vancouver Canucks for the Calder Trophy.
After he only managed 25 points and Pettersson scored 66, expectations for Mittelstadt began to temper a bit. Mittelstadt will likely be a middle-six center in the NHL, which makes him a bit of a disappointment at eighth overall, especially given that Martin Necas and Nick Suzuki were drafted so soon after him at 12th and 13th, respectively.
2016: Alexander Nylander – Buffalo Sabres
Speaking of Sabres prospects selected eighth overall with high expectations who have disappointed, let’s talk about Alex Nylander. He was a bit of a let-down during his first few stints in the AHL, only managing 55 points in 116 games over the course of two seasons. He has since been traded twice and has only played 84 NHL games. This pick seems even worse, knowing that it was followed shortly by Mikhail Sergachev (9th) and Charlie McAvoy (14th).
2015: Zach Werenski – Columbus Blue Jackets
Selecting Zach Werenski at eighth overall in 2015 was an excellent choice. He is already a two-time NHL All-Star and has proven to be a better player than four of the seven players selected before him in the draft and stands out as one of the best defencemen from the stacked 2015 Draft class. Although this selection was immediately followed by Timo Meier (9th) and Mikko Rantanen (10th), I don’t think the Blue Jackets regret much about their selection since Werenski ranks 1st in points among defencemen drafted in 2015 and 11th in points among all players in that draft.
2014: William Nylander – Toronto Maple Leafs
William Nylander might just be the best eighth-overall pick of the last decade. Since he was drafted in 2014, Nylander has been a dominant force in three of the world’s best professional hockey leagues, the SHL, AHL and now the NHL, with surprisingly little adjustment time needed between leagues.
He can be easy to overlook at times, considering he plays behind superstars like Mitch Marner and Auston Matthews, but Nylander scored a career-high 80 points in 81 games this season and deserves the respect he has earned. He is an excellent player on a bargain of a contract (just under $7 million per year for another two seasons), and I’m sure the Maple Leafs have no regrets about selecting him eighth overall.
2013: Rasmus Ristolainen – Buffalo Sabres
Ristolainen has become a polarizing player over the last few years, but in the end, he was still a solid choice at eighth overall in 2013. Bo Horvat was selected ninth and though I’m sure he would go higher in a 2013 re-Draft, I doubt the Sabres regret choosing a defender who is 12th in points among all players in that draft class and second in points among defensemen. Ristolainen has scored 261 points in 608 NHL games, but he also has a career plus/minus rating of minus-172. Overall, Ristolainen was a solid though unspectacular choice.
2012: Derrick Pouliot – Pittsburgh Penguins
I had no idea that Pouliot was drafted this high. Pouliot has been a classic “tweener” during his career, stuck in limbo between the NHL and AHL: too good for the American League but not quite good enough to land a long-term spot in the NHL. He has been a solid depth defender, playing over 200 NHL games so far, though the Penguins were surely hoping for more from an eighth-overall pick. Jacob Trouba and Filip Forsberg were still on the board when Pouliot was selected, drafted at 9th and 11th, respectively.
What Can the Red Wings Expect?
So, what have we learned other than the Buffalo Sabres seem to select eighth overall a lot? Eighth overall seems to be right in the sweet spot where general managers are left to select high-risk, high-reward players, the kind of players who have a similar upside to the players in the top five but who are less likely to make it to that point.
As for the Red Wings, who knows? For every William Nylander, there’s an Alexander Nylander. For every Zach Werenski, there’s a Derrick Pouliot. However, Red Wings GM Steve Yzerman has built a nearly unprecedented level of trust with his fanbase and has recently made a similar high-risk, high-reward type of selection early in the first round.
Hardly anyone knew who Moritz Seider was when the draft rolled around in 2019, but Yzerman took a chance on him at sixth overall, and he already looks like an absolute home run of a pick. If Yzerman can select someone at eighth overall who is half the player that Seider is, the Red Wings will have added yet another excellent young piece to their core.
Road to the Draft
Stay tuned over the next month or so as the Red Wings team here at The Hockey Writers prepares to bring you tons of top-quality coverage of the 2022 NHL Entry Draft tailored to the Detroit Red Wings.