The key to a successful rebuild is to find players throughout the draft, not just in the first round. That is how the Tampa Bay Lightning were built: Brayden Point, Nikita Kucherov, Ondrej Palat and Anthony Cirelli (among others) were all selected outside of the first round. If a team only hits on their first round picks, they will be rebuilding for the better part of a decade – just ask the Buffalo Sabres.
With that in mind, the Detroit Red Wings are currently set to make two selections in the second round the 2022 draft. They hold their own pick (40th overall) as well as the Washington Capitals’ pick (52nd overall), acquired in the Anthony Mantha trade last year. Let’s take a look at a few players the Red Wings could and should target with their first two picks outside of the first round.
Mattias Hävelid – Defense
Central Scouting (CS): 19th (EU Skaters), THW – Baracchini Ranking: 37th
It seems like with each passing draft, the Red Wings add more and more Swedish talent to their pipeline. To that point, in our most recent Red Wings prospect rankings, three of the team’s top five prospects are all left-handed Swedish defensemen. Digging deeper, general manager Steve Yzerman and his scouting team has assembled quite a wealth of defensive prospects that play on the left side. The same can not be said about their pool’s depth on the right side of the blue line.
Mattias Hävelid is a 5-foot-10, right-handed Swedish defenseman who may be one of the most skilled defensemen in the draft. As an 18-year-old, he already played 23 games against men in the Swedish Hockey League (SHL). While he did not produce any points at that level, he absolutely tore up the U18 tournament while representing Sweden, producing 12 points in just six games. He possesses a sneaky good shot, and he activates in the offensive zone like a modern day defenseman. He has power-play potential at the NHL level, and has a solid two-way game that should enable him to play elevated minutes in North America. I believe he is a top-32 player in this draft, but if his lack of size sees him fall out of the first round, the Red Wings should be eager to pick him if he’s on the board at 40th overall.
“Hävelid constantly plays on the edge and likes to join the rush to support attacks. He also likes to carry the puck in transition and when he is in the offensive zone, he is confident with the puck and can make plays on the blue line. He plays with pace but also sometimes makes mistakes due to a lack of patience. However, that doesn’t happen very often.” – Nick Richard, Dobber Prospects
Elias Salomonsson – Defense
CS: 12th (EU Skaters), THW – Baracchini: 52nd
In our two-round mock draft here at THW, I had the pleasure of the picking for the Red Wings. In the second round (which you can check out here), I selected Elias Salomonsson at 40th overall. Another Swedish right-handed defender, he stands at 6-foot-1, 183 pounds, and his game reminds me a bit of the Red Wings’ top pick in the 2021 draft, Simon Edvinsson. Salomonsson plays an offensive game that absolutely oozes with potential and risk. When he’s on his game, he is one of the most dangerous players on the ice as he is able to lead the attack from the back end, and he can make plays by himself or by using his teammates. When he’s off his game, however, he is a defensive liability on the ice, and you’ll catch him in no-man’s land while the puck heads in the wrong direction. Basically, he is a project pick with enormous upside, similar to what they got when they selected William Wallinder with the 32nd pick in the 2020 draft.
Reading that quick summary of his game will probably make you think of current Red Wings defenseman Filip Hronek. Honestly, a player like Hronek is probably the middle point of what Salomonsson could become at the NHL level. So then why did I make him the 40th pick in our mock draft? With the sheer amount of defensive prospects in the Red Wings’ system, Detroit can afford to be patient with this player, which would allow him to develop in Sweden and round out his game. Additionally, I held similar concerns about Edvinsson last year (too much risk, boom or bust), and he went on to prove me very, VERY wrong. There will be safer picks available in the second round, but with an additional pick in that round, Detroit can afford to take a swing on this player.
“Salomonsson has a high ceiling with his excellent puck-moving ability and playmaking skills. His tool kit offensively is on par with the best defensemen in the draft. Though a lot has been made about his defensive struggles, it will be important to let Salomonsson further develop his top qualities. It would be so easy to ensnare his creative talent with harsh restrictions. Salomonsson’s overall development will probably take longer time than we previously thought. At this point of the season (January 2022), he looks like a player that will require some grooming by the team that drafts him. Even though he could slip to the second round, Salomonsson has a grand upside for a team that is willing to be patient.” – Jacob Smeds, SwedishProspects.com
Bryce McConnell-Barker – Center
CS: 34th (NA Skaters), THW – Baracchini: 45th
All expectations are that the Red Wings will target a forward with their pick in the first round. While the preference seems to be a player that can down the middle, Detroit may find itself in a situation where the best player available at eighth overall will be a winger. Should that be the case, expect the Red Wings to add a centerman or two in the second and third rounds of the draft. Among the centers projected in that range, Bryce McConnell-Barker might just have the highest upside as an NHL centerman.
McConnell-Barker has a highly desirable combination of speed, skill, and two-way ability. He can lead the charge with the puck on his stick, he does a good job of minimizing risk in his game, and he takes pride in getting back in the defensive zone to essentially become a third defenseman. He won’t be a top scorer in his prime, but he has enough offense in his game where he could develop into a player that spends time on the second power play unit as well as on the penalty kill. He has the tools to become a second line center as the NHL level, or an ELITE third-line center. He is a hard-worker, and I believe this is a player who will do whatever is necessary to become an NHL player, regardless of what his role might be.
“He makes great reads in the neutral zone and is able to cause turnovers with a quick stick. He also showed a willingness to drive into open lanes in the middle of the ice and to put the puck into high danger areas for his teammates. McConnell-Barker also did a good job moving around the offensive zone to find open space.”– Mat Sheridan FC Hockey
Filip Bystedt – Center
CS: 17th (EU Skaters), THW – Baracchini: 41st
At 6-foot-4, 187 pounds, Filip Bystedt may have the goods to become something of a Swedish Michael Rasmussen – possibly even better. As a center, Bystedt knows how to use his size to his advantage, whether that means boxing out opposing forecheckers while he has the puck, or overpowering the opposition in the defensive zone. He is not going to lay out people with big hits, but he has the physicality to win battles along the boards, and his large frame and long reach allow him to break up plays and hinder the opposing attack. In case you haven’t figured it out, this player is more of a defensive center than an offensive one.
Related: Red Wings 2022 Draft Coverage
Bystedt already has what it takes to become a top-tier matchup center in the NHL. He has strong defensive instincts to go along with his physical tools, and he plays a relatively safe game with the puck. His offensive game is not nonexistent, but it doesn’t have that “wow” factor that others possess. He will need to develop it a lot further if he’s going to become anything more than a defensive center at the NHL level. His skating isn’t the best, but he knows where to go on the ice in both offensive and defensive situations. I think the best thing about him is that he’s moldable; the team that drafts him could round out his game to make him an all-situations kind of player, or they could really develop his defensive game and turn him into a top-tier shutdown center at the NHL level.
“A towering center who plays with a touch of creativity to go along with excellent reach, Bystedt is a fun player to evaluate. He doesn’t throw his body around just to do it as many players his size will do. Rather, he will use his length to protect the puck and leverage his positioning in a puck battle. Bystedt seems to understand that his size is an asset but it’s not the defining factor in his game. This is often the key to success among taller players.” – Tony Ferrari, The Hockey News
Adam Ingram – Forward
CS: 27th (NA Skaters), THW – Baracchini: 46th
With the 52nd pick in our THW mock draft, I selected forward Adam Ingram. He can play on the wing or down the middle, and in the United States Hockey League (USHL) this season, he had 55 points through 54 games. The kid can score; his shot is arguably his best asset, and it is good enough where I can envision him scoring upwards of 25 goals in the NHL on a regular basis. He’s a player that got better and better the more he played in the USHL, and that’s something you hope to see continue as he begins his collegiate career with St. Cloud State University next season.
Ingram will have to add some muscle to his frame (6-foot-2, 174 pounds) to be effective at higher levels, but that should come with time. His defensive game has plenty of room for improvement, but I wouldn’t call him a liability in his own zone. With the right development, he could turn into a second line, Swiss Army knife-type of player that is the perfect compliment to higher-end forwards. The reason why I picked him at 52nd overall in the mock draft is because I believe in his ability to become an NHL player – even if it is just in a depth scoring role. He’ll take more time to develop than other players on this list, but if all goes well, he’ll become something of a steal coming out of the second round.
“When Ingram had the puck it almost looked like he slowed the game down to the pace he wanted to play at, showing patience and scanning the ice well allows him to make his passing attempts successful. His smooth handling of the puck also plays a key factor in allowing him to have some success when slowing things down and playing east to west.” – Douglas Larson (from “Adam Ingram Scouting Report: 5/23/22”, FC Hockey, 5/23/22)
Red Wings Have Plenty of Options
By nature of the second round, there will be numerous options for the Red Wings to consider with their two picks. Some players will fall that no one expected to fall, and some players will jump up that nobody saw coming. The players on this list should be just as intriguing to the teams selecting before and after the Red Wings, so some of these players may not even be an option with Detroit’s pick at 40th overall. Scouts will have a list of players to consider that is much longer than this one, and that’s why they play such a crucial role in shaping the future for rebuilding teams like the Red Wings.
Tyler Bertuzzi, Filip Hronek and Alex Nedeljkovic are all players that were drafted in the second round. There will be quality players available in this round, and if the Red Wings are going to end their rebuild sooner rather than later, they’ll need to find two of them with the two picks they have.
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.