The NHL Draft Lottery didn’t yield any luck for the Detroit Red Wings, which were bumped down for the second straight year. However, the deep draft class still leaves them with great options when they draft sixth-overall in June.
Detroit could use help at every position, so when Ken Holland reaches the stage, they need to draft the best player available – regardless of position. Short of a surprise selection in the top-five picks, that likely leaves them with a short list of defenseman.
After presumed No. 1 pick Rasmus Dahlin, the next tier of defensemen includes Adam Boqvist, Quinn Hughes, Evan Bouchard and Noah Dobson, all of which could potentially be available to the Red Wings at No. 6. So which one should Holland be in on? In this week’s edition of The Grind Line, The Hockey Writers’ Red Wings coverage team shares their picks for No. 6.
Tony Wolak: Adam Boqvist
While a top-three draft pick would have been nice, the Red Wings will still come away from the 2018 NHL Draft with a quality player. If it was up to me—and if this player was still available—I would prefer the Red Wings to draft Adam Boqvist.
The Swedish defender is a solid consolation prize for not winning the Dahlin sweepstakes and would be available for Detroit if Dahlin, Andrei Svechnikov, Filip Zadina, Brady Tkachuk, and Evan Bouchard are taken with the first five picks. Boqvist would likely need a year of seasoning in Sweden’s top league before coming over to Hockeytown – development that matches up with Detroit’s rebuilding schedule.
Boqvist’s offensive flair would be a substantial upgrade for the Red Wings and would mix in well with top defensive prospects Dennis Cholowski, Joe Hicketts, Filip Hronek, and Vili Saarijarvi. He is a tremendous skater and matches goal-scoring prowess with superior playmaking abilities.
THW’s Mark Scheig had this to say about Boqvist’s potential:
…a potential top-four right-handed defenseman who can quarterback your power play. Considering he played in Sweden, his line of 14-10-24 in 25 games is rather impressive. Not sure he starts in the NHL right away, but don’t discount that in a year or two. He is one of the youngest players in this draft as he will be just 17 when he hears his name called.
All in all, the Red Wings will have the opportunity to draft a high-impact defenseman. Two of Boqvist, Bouchard, and Quinn Hughes should be available at No. 6 and the Red Wings would be lucky to have any one of them. I’d bet on Bouchard being taken, but would prefer Boqvist if he was still without an NHL team when Detroit makes their selection.
Jacob Messing: Quinn Hughes
Failing to move up in the lottery was certainly a bummer for Red Wings fans, but the aforementioned list of defensemen are still more-than-viable options for the Red Wings. One of those defensemen is Hughes, who Bob McKenzie ranks as the third-best defenseman in his draft class behind only Dahlin and Boqvist.
The 18-year-old just put together a strong freshman season with the Wolverines at the University of Michigan. He put up five goals and 24 assists for 29 points in 37 games with UM as a key cog in a resurgent season.
Hughes is an exceptional skater with poise and a puck-moving ability the Red Wings drastically need. But he’s also undersized, standing at 5-foot-9 and 170-pounds. Detroit already has undersized defensemen in the system, but as mentioned, the team needs to take the best player on the board and it’s highly likely that is Hughes at No. 6.
He can continue to grow and would likely return to Michigan for another season in the NCAA to help round out the defensive side of his game. Following the collegiate season, he can then turn pro and join the organization in early 2019, with either Detroit or Grand Rapids.
Hughes was invited to join Team USA in Denmark for the 2018 IIHF World Championship. He’ll get the chance to shed some doubts about his frame by how he measures up to proven players and full-grown men around him. Red Wings head coach Jeff Blashill will be at the helm for Team USA and will get a good look at the defenseman ahead of the draft. He’ll also be joining current Red Wings Dylan Larkin and Nick Jensen.