Well, despite finishing with the worst record in the NHL this past season, the Detroit Red Wings will have the fourth-overall pick at the 2020 NHL Entry Draft.
Related: THW’s 2020 Draft Guide
In this iteration of Red Wings News & Rumors, we’ll take a look at the fallout from the draft lottery, celebrate one of the greatest architects in team history, and examine the growth of one of the more underrated prospects in the system.
Item One: A Disappointing Slide at the Draft Lottery
After the Red Wings endured one of the worst seasons in modern NHL history, the organization was hoping that the draft lottery would make their suffering worthwhile. At the top of the draft sits Alexis Lafreniere, a star forward who looks like a potential game-changer on the wing.
Related: Last Red Wings to Win Each NHL Award
Heck, even if they missed out on him, at least Quinton Byfield or Tim Stutzle could serve as a stellar consolation prize. Instead, the Red Wings slid to the fourth-overall pick, while one of the eight teams that lose in the play-in round will have the opportunity to select Lafreniere.
In a post-lottery interview with the media, Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman made note that he was not surprised with the disappointing results. He stated that the eight play-in teams had better cumulative odds at the top overall pick than the Red Wings, so he was prepared for the worst-case scenario.
Yzerman mentioned that they will still get a promising prospect with the pick, but the whole ordeal is tough to stomach for Red Wings fans. The team has fallen down the draft in each of the past four draft lotteries. Since 2016, no team has lost more draft positioning than the Red Wings.
So, where do the Red Wings go from here? The Hockey Writers colleague Tony Wolak attempted to address that question in his most recent article, and it is truly tough to gauge. Jamie Drysdale, Lucas Raymond, Marco Rossi, and Cole Perfetti are all dynamic players in their own right, but could any of them alter the course of the franchise?
The Red Wings dropping to fourth overall only created more questions than answers, and we may find ourselves having a similar conversation this time next year.
Item Two: Ken Holland’s Induction to the Hockey Hall of Fame
On a happier note, long-time Red Wings’ executive Ken Holland earned induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame as a builder on June 24. Holland spent 36 years within the organization, 22 of which came as the general manager.
During Holland’s tenure as general manager, the Red Wings captured three Stanley Cups, four Presidents’ Trophies, and won more games than any other team in the league during that span. He was a key component of the team’s 25-season playoff streak that lasted from 1989-90 to 2016-17.
Some may be critical about the end of Holland’s time in Detroit, which was mired by sizable contracts given to underperforming veteran players, but his achievements cannot be understated.
Holland is continuing to enjoy success even now. During his first season as general manager of the Edmonton Oilers, he has managed to turn the team around. The Oilers finished 25th in the NHL during the 2018-19 season, yet have become a playoff team under Holland’s tutelage.
Amidst this difficult time for the Red Wings, it is nice to be able to look back fondly on memories from past seasons. Holland is more than deserving of this honor, as he helped Hockeytown become synonymous with winning for over two decades.
Item Three: Albert Johansson Signs Entry-Level Contract
At the start of June, the Red Wings locked up Swedish defenseman Albert Johansson to an entry-level contract. The second-round pick from the 2019 NHL Entry Draft has quickly gained traction within the organization.
As a 19-year-old, Johansson tallied 13 points in 42 games for Farjestad BK in the Swedish Hockey League. It was his first year of professional hockey, and his performance at a high level of competition impressed many scouts.
He plays an unassuming game but has poise beyond his years on the blue line. Farjestad head coach Johan Pennerbom gushed about Johansson in one of Max Bultman’s recent articles on The Athletic NHL.
Pennerbom noted how “his gap control, his sense of reading the play is outstanding. And he’s so smart” (from ‘Red Wings prospect report: Albert Johansson plays ‘wise’ hockey in SHL’, The Athletic NHL – 6/18/20).
Johansson’s progression is certainly encouraging, particularly for a team that is sorely lacking on the back end. With a bit more developing, perhaps he is in North America by the 2021-22 season.
What’s Next for the Red Wings?
Well, in essence, not much. There are no set dates for the 2020 NHL Entry Draft, and there will be no Red Wings’ hockey to watch for the foreseeable future.
With the summer weather starting to arrive across North America, you might as well (safely) kick back and enjoy it. If anything else newsworthy happens in the coming weeks, I’ll be here to cover it.