The Grind Line: Red Wings 2021 Mock Draft Analysis

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 Tony WolakDevin LittlePatrick Brown, and Kyle Knopp are the muckers who make up THW’s forechecking unit and sound off on Red Wings topics.

The 2021 NHL Draft is just around the corner which means that it’s mock draft season, baby! The round one recap of The Hockey Writers’ mock draft can be found here, and the round two recap can be found here. As the acting general manager for the Detroit Red Wings, I selected the following players in the first round:

6. Mason McTavish

22. Carson Lambos

Related: 2021 NHL Draft Guide

Does the rest of our Red Wings team agree with my picks? Read on to find out…

Tony Wolak: Kris Draper Devin Did Well

While THW’s mock draft was going on, I messaged Devin on the side to congratulate him on his impressive haul. Selecting both McTavish and Lambos would be fantastic for Detroit’s rebuild.

If I were in Devin’s shoes, I would have considered Jesper Wallstedt at No. 6. He’s going to be an outstanding NHL goalie in the near future, and the Red Wings lack stability in net. That said, McTavish is still an outstanding grab. Lambos was a solid pick too, but I would have taken forward Nikita Chibrikov instead. The Russian winger would fit in well with Detroit’s recent draft picks.

“He can make slick one-on-one plays, creative plays under pressure and find seams consistently. He’s physical and responsible defensively. He could be a more explosive skater ideally, but the other elements of his game pop.”

Corey Pronman (from ‘Top 151 Prospects for 2021 NHL Draft: Owen Power leads Corey Pronman’s final rankings’ – The Athletic – 6/15/21)

But honestly, it’s a toss-up. Lambos would strengthen the left side of Detroit’s blue line and could develop into a steal if his 2021-22 WHL season goes well.

Patrick Brown: Doing Smart Things With the Best Available

Hats off to Devin – I know that we relented my beer league GM skills on the most recent episode of our podcast (which you can find at the end of this article), but he really hit this one out of the park. In my book, given the options available when selecting at both six and 22, he took the best available skaters — and may have come away with a bargain late in the first round.

Related: Red Wings 2021 Draft Coverage

I’ve made no secret the past few months of my desire to see the Wings take Wallstedt at No. 6, but Tony said it best, McTavish was a great pick. Given the other players that were already off the board, he was the best remaining skater, and he will likely find his way onto a top line in the NHL at some point. The Red Wings would be lucky to have him. Though center Chaz Lucius caught my eye recently, there’s no way to justify taking him over someone like McTavish.

Mason McTavish Peterborough Petes
Mason McTavish of the Peterborough Petes (Terry Wilson / OHL Images)

As for Lambos, this was a home run pick! That the 2020-21 season was a disaster for him is irrelevant, because the 18-year-old has shown far too much upside to be discounted late in the first round. He has shown a strong sense of hockey IQ, and if he can get his wits about him this upcoming season there’s major potential to land in a top-four blue line role. 

Hopefully Drapes gives Devin a call on July 23, because he nailed it!

Kyle Knopp: Playing the Pass Line in this Crap Shoot

Here’s the thing about this draft — it is a complete crapshoot. There are projected top-5 picks that could very well be busts, while a player selected in one of the later rounds could easily become the best pick from this draft in future years. With that in mind I am glad it was Devin — and not myself — who took on the challenge of drafting as the Wings GM. 

With Wallstedt and Simon Edvinsson still available at number six, and the Wings needing the most help at goalie and on the left side of their defense, it’s hard to get excited about a player who was ranked as a mid to late first-round selection. McTavish does have a great potential upside, but is a player who is not quite NHL ready — and has been criticized for his defensive play in his own end. The silver lining, however, is that his size and skill could very well make McTavish the steal of the draft. 

Devin selecting Lambos at 22 was his way of addressing the Wings biggest needs as the mock draft played out differently than Wings fans may be expecting. Since Sebastian Cossa was taken early by the Blackhawks, it didn’t make sense to use the 22nd pick on a goaltender that could be selected in later rounds. Instead, he did a great job of going with a left handed defenseman after taking a center with his first pick. However, had he chosen a defenseman with the sixth, the Wings would have had the option to take Logan Stankoven with their second pick in the first round — who is likely a future Selke contender. 

Carson Lambos Winnipeg Ice
Carson Lambos of the Winnipeg Ice (Zachary Peters/Winnipeg ICE)

All in all, Devin did a fantastic job addressing the Wings’ needs and selecting the players who he feels are most likely to fit in the best with Detroit’s rebuild. While the whole upcoming draft feels like a giant game of Craps this season, I would put money on Devin’s bets paying out before I would bet against them failing!

Devin Little: Open for Debate

Don’t get me wrong: I’m proud of my drafting through two rounds, and the players selected here in the first round are the biggest parts of that. In McTavish, I’m taking a player that I think plays a game that is very projectable to the NHL. In Lambos – a player once projected as a top-10, and even top five player in this draft class – I’m taking a bit of a swing with Detroit’s bonus pick and hoping that the young defender rediscovers the level that made him such a well-regarded prospect at the beginning of this year.

And yet even I can’t help but think “yeah…but Wallstedt and Francesco Pinelli would have been pretty nice too….” And let’s not forget the players suggested here by my colleagues! To Kyle’s point, this draft is so hard to nail down. To that point, this is a draft where I would endorse the idea of moving up from pick 22 – something I was not able to do in our mock draft – to grab somebody that the team feels confident in. While I am happy to hear that I made my teammates proud during this year’s mock draft, I’m definitely sleeping a lot easier knowing that this is not actually my decision.

What do you think of the results of this year’s mock draft? What would you have done differently? Share your thoughts in the comments section down below!

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