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 Wolak, Devin Little, Kyle Knopp, Delaney Rimer, and Logan Horn are the muckers who make up THW’s forechecking unit and sound off on Red Wings topics.
As you probably know by now, the Detroit Red Wings are poised to select eighth in the first round of the 2022 NHL Draft. With a pick in that range, a number of players could and should be available to general manager Steve Yzerman and his scouting team.
But which prospect is the one the Red Wings must take at eighth overall? Realistically, there are plenty of “correct” options, but everybody has their favorites. With that in mind, our panel is here to share whose name they want to hear Yzerman call when the Red Wings make their pick.
Tony Wolak: Brad Lambert
Despite a prolonged rebuild, the Red Wings still need elite talent. Brad Lambert provides that, and then some.
With speed and creativity as his calling cards, Lambert has the potential to be a star in the NHL. The Finnish forward can play both center and wing, and already possesses top-notch offensive traits. He may be available at No. 8 due to concerns about his consistency and the fact that he switched Liiga teams midseason, and still wasn’t able to produce noteworthy point totals. However, that shouldn’t distract the Red Wings from considering him early in the first round – his positives (and potential) far outweigh his negatives.
Adding Lambert to the prospect pool would provide Detroit with another cornerstone piece. He would also give the Red Wings another elite offensive mind to deploy alongside Lucas Raymond, Dylan Larkin, Jakub Vrana, and the other top-six forwards of the future.
Devin Little: Matthew Savoie or Jonathan Lekkerimäki
As the person who assembled this week’s column, I’m going to take the liberty of providing two options, mostly because I’m not entirely sure that my preferred option will be there when the Red Wings are on the clock.
If you haven’t checked out our “draft targets” article about Matthew Savoie, I recommend doing so. I could go on and on in this space about why he should be the pick, but I’ll let that article do the talking. He’s my favorite player in this year’s draft, and I would be absolutely thrilled to see him wear the winged wheel on the draft stage.
If Savoie is gone, then I’d like to see the Red Wings turn their attention, yet again, to the nation of Sweden. While Jonathan Lekkerimäki does not fill the need in their pipeline for a potential top six center, he offers a skillset that nobody else in their pipeline does. If you were a fan of Alexander Holtz in the 2020 draft, you’ll love Lekkerimäki. The 18-year-old dominated the U18 tournament earlier this year, recording 15 points in six games for Sweden. Meanwhile, in 26 games playing against men in the Swedish Hockey League, he scored seven goals and recorded nine points. He knows how to put the puck in the back of the net, and he would arguably be the perfect player to line up alongside Raymond. If Savoie is gone by the time the Red Wings are on the clock, they may not find a better offensive talent than Lekkerimäki.
Kyle Knopp: Marco Kasper
This is my attempt to get into Yzerman’s head, and to channel his thoughts on the upcoming draft. In Marco Kasper, you get a 6-foot-1, 183-pound center who can also play on the wing. While there are some fantastic wingers in this draft, Detroit needs help down the middle and taking a player that is primarily a center but can switch to the outside if needed will give the Red Wings more weapons in the future.
To top it off, Kasper played on Rögle BK in the Swedish Hockey League (SHL) this season, a team known for its recent development of Red Wings prospects. Kasper scored 11 points (seven goals, four assists) in 46 games during the SHL regular-season, six points (three goals, three assists) in 13 SHL playoff games, and six points (two goals, four assists) to help Rögle win its first Champions Hockey League title. Playing with current Wings prospects Theodor Niederbach and William Wallander, it can be assumed the Detroit brass have been keeping their eye on him.
Delaney Rimer: Simon Nemec
For the eighth overall pick, I would like to see the Red Wings pick Simon Nemec. This 18-year-old Slovak defenseman fits the bill of what the Red Wings are looking for to continue the defensive end of the rebuild. With the current key piece of the defense being Moritz Seider, adding a player like Nemec to the blue line would bring tremendous potential. Yzerman has mentioned that defense needs the most attention as the rebuild is in a crucial stage, and I can see Nemec fitting in with this trajectory. If he were to end up on the Red Wings’ blue line, Seider would be a great mentor player as he has a similar style of play to the young Slovak.
Related: Red Wings 2022 Draft Coverage
Nemec has a strong and confident two-way game as well as astounding hockey sense which in turn makes him a reliable playmaker in games. He can move the puck with ease and deceit players much older than him, proving that he has the potential to hold his own in the NHL. He played 39 games for HK Nitra of the Slovak Extraliga league, the highest-level league in Slovakia, in the 2021-22 season and garnered just one goal but also a stunning 25 assists. In the playoffs, he appeared in 19 games and produced five goals and 12 assists, which is not too shabby for an 18-year-old defenseman in such a competitive league. Regarding the NHL draft, most rankings have had him anywhere between third and ninth which makes him a strong possible pick for the Red Wings.
Logan Horn: Matthew Savoie
Savoie is one player who I have seen drop down many rankings and mock drafts over the last few weeks that I would love to see fall all the way to the Red Wings at eighth overall. He has fallen through no fault of his own (he was borderline dominant for stretches of his Western Hockey League season), but rather because the players around him in the top-five have elevated their draft stock enough to start passing him.
Savoie is a dynamic offensive talent who would project to play a massive role in the Red Wings’ top-six forward group for years to come. He currently plays center and just because he is on the shorter side (5-foot-9) doesn’t mean he will automatically be a winger in the NHL. At 179 pounds, he is built like a tank (albeit a short one) which should give him a decent shot at making it as a top-six center further down the road.
Who would you like to see the Red Wings take with the eighth pick in the 2022 draft? Share your picks in the comments section down below!
I am a Western Michigan University alum whose passion for hockey knows no limits. Dr. Pepper enthusiast. Catch me and my fellow Red Wings writers’ YouTube show “The Hockey Writers Grind Line” which drops every Saturday.