The Grind Line: Grading the Red Wings’ 2019 Draft Selections

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. Rachel Anderson and Tony Wolak are the muckers who makeup THW’s forechecking unit and sound off on Red Wings topics.

The 2019 NHL Entry Draft was highly anticipated by all. The talent pool was as deep as last season’s draft and provided every team with highly skilled options. The answer to the great question of who would go first was finally answered with Jack Hughes being the number one overall selection. It was a record-breaking draft for the USA Development Team having eight picks in round one, the most for any single team in NHL history. As to be expected it was full of drama, as we saw highly touted Cole Caufield drop in the rankings along with many shocking trades of picks and personnel. For many, the draft was an incredible success.

For the Detroit Red Wings fanbase, this draft was to serve as the key to understanding the priorities for the franchise under Steve Yzerman’s rule. Many speculated as to what his focus would be – defense, forwards, size, time of development and so on. He showed that focus by drafting German Moritz Seider sixth overall.

Moritz Seider Red Wings Draft
Moritz Seider, Detroit Red Wings, 2019 NHL Draft (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers

With the final selections in, its time to break down Detroit’s drafting success (or failure) with a little bit of grading. What kind of effort did the Red Wings put forth in re-establishing a development plan? Were the picks well-selected? Would we have chosen anyone different?

Detroit’s Final 2019 Selections

  • #6: Moritz Seider
  • #35: Antti Tuomisto
  • #54: Robert Mastrosimone
  • #60: Albert Johansson
  • #66: Albin Grewe
  • #97: Ethan Phillips
  • #128: Cooper Moore
  • #159: Elmer Soderblom
  • #177: Gustav Berglund
  • #190: Kirill Tyutyayev
  • #191: Carter Gylander

Rachel Anderson – A

Giving a straight “A” is a bold move but I think Steve Yzerman and company did a phenomenal job drafting this season. There are a few positive but unmistakable patterns in the selections that were made and I believe it sets the tone for the next few seasons rather well.

The first pattern was the chosen nationality of the picks – all but one is European – Mastrosimone being the exception. The European style is distinct but the number of Swedes chosen made my mind go immediately to the Swedish line of the 2000s that Yzerman had once skated alongside. A powerhouse group of skaters, perhaps the former captain is trying to recreate the magic.

The other notable A-worthy pattern is the obvious defensive focus. Five of the eleven picks alotted this season were defenseman – and large ones at that. Detroit’s need for defensemen is growing, even though young Filip Hronek will be ready to fill his spot. The focus on big d-men is a positive shift for the team. The steady stream of defensive picks coming through development will help bolster the team’s blue and perhaps even add some physical edge.

Robert Mastrosimone of the Chicago Steel
Robert Mastrosimone of the Chicago Steel (Hickling Images)

Overall, the most exciting pick for me is in Robert Mastrosimone. I’ve been watching him in the USHL for the last few seasons and he’s proved to be a smart skater with a very high offensive IQ. He fits the speed that Yzerman is looking for and in a few seasons, will be an excellent fit for the game.

Overall, Detroit did a good job. Each player has a few seasons of development ahead of them, but Yzerman’s Euro-dominated prospect pool will ideally launch the Red Wings into a new era.

Tony Wolak: B-

Detroit’s draft focused on the long play. Few could have predicted the Seider selection, but it may work out in the Red Wings’ favor down the road. Prior to the draft, the organization really didn’t have a true, top-pairing defenseman to play tough minutes. Filip Hronek and Dennis Cholowski have talent, but may be better suited on the second pairing.

Yzerman noted that the Red Wings explored trading back and other teams were interested in taking Seider with a top-10 pick, so you can’t fault him for playing the hand he was dealt. He got his guy, even if it seemed anti-climatic to most of us.

Detroit’s other ten selections will have extended developmental timelines to grow into the players that Yzerman and his scouting team envision. Mastrosimone and Phillips are bound for Boston University, where they’ll have four seasons to develop. Moore and Gylander will follow them to the collegiate ranks after one more season of juniors.

Ethan Phillips of the Sioux Falls Stampede
Ethan Phillips of the Sioux Falls Stampede (courtesy USHL)

Likewise, Tuomisto, Johansson, Grewe, Soderblom, and Berglund have until June 2023 to sign with the Red Wings. Tyutyayev will stay on Detroit’s reserve list indefinitely.

Yzerman preached patience during his introductory press conference. Detroit’s 2019 draft choices certainly reflect that.