The results of the first round of our THW mock draft are in! As the acting general manager of the Detroit Red Wings, I was in charge of making the selections at pick 6 and 22. In this mock draft, the Red Wings came away with the following players:
Drafting McTavish with the sixth pick is certainly something that we could see on draft day (July 23). With the potential to become an impact top six center in the NHL whom I compared to Ryan O’Reilly of the St. Louis Blues, adding a player with his upside is definitely on real-life Red Wings GM Steve Yzerman’s draft checklist. As I mentioned in the mock draft article, a 1-2-3 punch of McTavish, Dylan Larkin and Joe Veleno is something that Red Wings fans should and would be very excited about.
Related: Red Wings 2021 Draft Coverage
This article isn’t about McTavish, however. At pick 22, the Red Wings came away with defenseman Carson Lambos, a prospect that began this season ranked within the top 10 of this draft class, but slowly saw his draft stock fall as he failed to find another level to his game this season. While I still believe in this prospect (I think with time, Lambos at 22 could prove to be a steal) he was not the player I had my eyes set on – heck, he wasn’t even the second player I had my eyes on for the pick. The problem was that we were not allowed to make trades to move up or down in the draft order, otherwise I would have moved up to snag one of the guys I was targeting. Luckily for Yzerman, he most definitely can make such a maneuver.
Pick 22 Targets
Last week, I highlighted three solid options for the Red Wings to consider with the 22nd pick, and two of the three were on my radar after selecting McTavish with the sixth pick. Those targets were Finnish forward Aatu Räty and Canadian goaltender Sebastian Cossa. Unfortunately for the Red Wings in this mock draft, Cossa was selected with the 11th pick by the Chicago Blackhawks, and Räty went 20th overall to the Boston Bruins.
I’ve been championing the approach of taking a big swing with one of the Red Wings’ first round picks this year and playing it safe with the other pick. To me, McTavish was more on the safe side, and that left me ready to swing for the fences with pick 22. Both Cossa and Räty fit the bill, in my opinion, and that’s a big reason why they were my top two options with the pick. I still think Lambos fits the “big swing” label, but maybe not to extent that the other two do.
Trading Into the Top 20
Selecting a player with “boom or bust” potential isn’t the only way to be bold come draft day, though. One of the boldest things a GM can do during the draft is to move up the draft board in order to claim a player they really want. Yzerman is familiar with this action as he once traded a seventh round pick to move up from pick 80 to 79 in the 2014 draft. The player he moved up one spot for? Brayden Point. Another example of this is when the Arizona Coyotes traded the 20th and 53rd picks to the Red Wings for pick 16 (and Pavel Datsyuk’s contract).
In regards to Cossa, if he really comes off the board by pick 11, then there’s really not much the Red Wings can do other than trade back from the sixth pick. There’s certainly value in that idea, but finding a trading partner in the 7-10 range that has enough assets (and is willing to give them away) is highly unlikely. Furthermore, if you’re that hellbent on taking a goalie, you might as well just take Jesper Wallstedt with the sixth pick. I know I was tempted to.
Here are the five players that were drafted before I took Lambos with pick 22:
I think these are reasonable projections for where most of these players will go in the real draft this month. If you’re interested in Detroit taking any of these five players, it appears there might only be one way for Detroit to get their hands on them: trading up. This is especially true for a player like Cossa, who I don’t think will be taken by the Blackhawks in real life, but is a logical target for a team like the Edmonton Oilers with the 19th pick.
Through their many trades over the last couple of years, the Red Wings have ample resources to pull from in order to orchestrate a move up the draft order. If Yzerman were to pair pick 22 with the New York Rangers’ second round pick (pick 47), a team like the Nashville Predators (pick 18) would likely jump at the opportunity to add another top 50 pick to their collection in exchange for falling back four spots in the first round. Nashville adds another quality pick to help beef up their prospect pool, and Detroit moves into the top 20 with an opportunity to draft the player they want with their second first round pick (and they would still have two second round picks left over!) If I had the ability to move up in our mock draft, this is exactly the route I would have gone.
Worth the Cost?
The second round of our mock draft will be published later this week. At that time, you’ll be able to find out which players I took with the Red Wings’ three second round picks, and you’ll also be able to gauge the cost of trading up in the first round. It’s one thing to say “trade pick 47”, but it’s another thing to say “trade prospect x” for the same thing. Furthermore, is there really that much of a difference between picks 18 (hypothetically) and pick 22?
The difference between picks 18 and 22 is not nearly as pronounced as the difference between the first and fifth pick, but there are still a ton of variables to consider, especially considering we’re talking about potentially moving up to draft a goaltender. If you’re trading up, you have to be sure that the player you’re taking is worth the opportunity-cost of the lost draft pick; it was a different round, but Yzerman’s scouts in Tampa Bay felt like they needed to have Point, and taking him was worth the opportunity-cost of the seventh round pick Yzerman gave up. It doesn’t always work out as well as that maneuver did, but the thinking is the same.
Pick 22 Provides Many Opportunities
While I was happy to take Lambos with pick 22, I would have given up the opportunity to draft him and the player at 47 if it meant taking guys like Cossa and Räty higher up in the draft. One of the best things about having as many extra picks as Yzerman and the Red Wings do is that they become ammunition for moves like this. Sometimes you have to put a bullet in the chamber and take your best shot.
Even if Yzerman sticks with pick 22, there’s bound to be plenty of great prospects available to the Red Wings, including Lambos. The five players taken after Lambos were:
You could make a good argument for any of those players with the 22nd pick. Holding onto the draft picks that Yzerman has is certainly not a bad option, especially with the team’s overall need for more impact prospects. But with those needs comes the temptation to make a move. It just comes down to who is left on the board, and how badly Yzerman and his scouts want a certain player.
Would you trade up from pick 22? Let me know down in the comments section. Thanks for reading!
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.