Some hits, many big misses: Ted Kulfan grades the last 10 Red Wings drafts

Detroit News

Ted Kulfan
| The Detroit News

Detroit – Just about every hockey fan knows where the Red Wings finished last season. With 39 points, the Wings had the worst record in the NHL, by far, finishing 23 points behind Ottawa.

That demonstrates the gap between the Red Wings and the rest of the NHL.

A major reason the Wings are where they are is because of their lack of success in the NHL Draft. What was once a strength, with the Red Wings plucking future Hall of Famers in the late rounds, has become much more dicey in recent years.

The Wings have missed on a few high-level picks in the last decade, and that contributed to Detroit’s absence from the playoffs the last four seasons, after 25 consecutive postseason appearances.

The Detroit News takes a look at the last 10 draft classes and grades each one.


Picks: (1st) Riley Sheahan (C); (2nd) Calle Jarnkrok (C); (3rd) Louis-Marc Aubry (C); (4th) Teemu Pulkkinen (LW); (5th) Petr Mrazek (G); (6th) Brooks Macek (RW); (7th) Ben Marshall (D).

Analysis: The hope was that Sheahan would turn into a big, productive two-way center who could neutralize all the big centers in the Western Conference at the time. But it never worked out. Sheahan regressed, and was a shell of himself before being traded to Pittsburgh. (He is now in Edmonton, reunited with general manager Ken Holland.) Jarnkrok was traded to Nashville for David Legwand and arguably has had a better career than Sheahan. Mrazek flashed the potential of being a No. 1 goalie before flaming out, though he has resurrected his career in Carolina.

►Grade: C

More: Ted Kulfan’s 2020 NHL mock draft 1.0


Picks: (2nd) Tomas Jurco (LW); (2nd) Xavier Ouellet (D); (2nd) Ryan Sproul (D); (3rd) Alan Quine (C); (4th) Marek Tvrdon (LW); (5th) Phillipe Hudon (RW); (5th) Mattias Backman (RW); (6th) Richard Nedomlel (D); (7th) Alexey Marchenko (D).

Analysis: None of the picks made a significant impact on the Red Wings’ rosters. None have played more than Jurco’s 213 NHL games, with Jurco possibly getting his last NHL opportunity last season in Edmonton (reunited with Holland). Ouellet never won a spot in the lineup, and has latched on with Montreal as a third-pair defenseman, and Marchenko played two seasons with the Wings. But largely, this class was a non-factor.

►Grade: D


Picks: (2nd) Martin Frk (RW); (3rd) Jake Paterson (G); (4th) Andreas Athanasiou (C); (5th) Mike McKee (D); (6th) James De Haas (D); (7th) Rasmus Bodin (LW).

Analysis: Another washout. Frk had a powerful shot but could never control it and did very little on the ice. He has 18 goals in 117 NHL games, getting an opportunity in Los Angeles the last two years after being waived by the Wings. The hope was the Wings found a gem in Athanasiou in the fourth round. He had a 30 goal season before injuries and inconsistency forced the Wings to trade him to Edmonton at 2020 trade deadline.

►Grade: D


Picks: (1st) Anthony Mantha (RW), (2nd) Zach Nastasiuk (RW); (2nd) Tyler Bertuzzi (LW); (3rd) Mattias Janmark (C); (4th) David Pope (LW); (5th) Mitch Wheaton (D); (6th) Marc McNulty (D); (7th) Hampus Melen (RW).

Analysis: The Wings unearthed two-thirds of their current top scoring line in Mantha and Bertuzzi. Both are fixtures in a lineup that needs more talent around them. Janmark was used a trade piece (for Erik Cole) and has gone on to play 297 NHL games in Dallas, more than anyone in this Wings’ class.

►Grade: A


Picks: (1st) Dylan Larkin (C); (3rd) Dominic Turgeon (C); (4th) Christoffer Ehn (C); (5th) Chase Perry (G); (6th) Julius Vahatalo (LW); (7th) Axel Holmstrom (RW); (7th) Alexander Kadeykin (RW).

Analysis: Larkin slid to the Wings at 15th overall and the Wings nabbed the player who likely will be their next captain. The Waterford native centers the top line and has been part of the leadership group during this rough stretch. Ehn has been a regular on the fourth line the last two seasons.

►Grade: A


Picks: (1st) Evgeny Svechnikov (RW); (3rd) Vili Saarijarvi (D); (4th) Joren Van Pottelberghe (G); (5th) Chase Pearson (C); (6th) Patrick Holway (D); (7th) Adam Marsh (LW).

Analysis: Time is ticking away on this class. Svechnikov hasn’t been able to secure an NHL spot yet, with knee surgery that caused him to miss the 2018-19 season being a major setback. Saarijarvi has been traded away, and Pearson is making strides in Grand Rapids.

►Grade: D


Picks: (1st) Dennis Cholowski (D); (2nd) Givani Smith (RW); (2nd) Filip Hronek (D); (4th) Alfons Malmstrom (D); (5th) Jordan Sambrook (D); (6th) Filip Larsson (G); (7th) Mattias Elfstrom (LW).

Analysis: While Cholowski is trending to be a disappointment, Hronek is looking like a second-round steal. Cholowski has finished the season in the minors the last two years. Smith has making progress and could land a permanent NHL spot next season. Hope of Larsson being the goaltender of the future took a hit with a poor 2019-20 season.

►Grade: C


Picks: (1st) Michael Rasmussen (C); (2nd) Gustav Lindstrom (D); (3rd) Kasper Kotkansalo (D); (3rd) Lane Zablocki (RW); (3rd) Zach Gallant (C); (3rd) Keith Petruzzelli (G); (4th) Malte Setkov (D); (5th) Cole Fraser (D); (6th) Jack Adams (C); (6th) Reilly Webb (D); (7th) Brady Gilmour (C).

Analysis: Rasmussen played in the NHL as an 18-year-old, but was sent back to Grand Rapids last season, where injuries stalled him. Lindstrom got in 16 games with the Wings last season. Nobody else in this class projects as a sure-fire NHL prospect.

►Grade: C


Picks: (1st) Filip Zadina (RW); (1st) Joe Veleno (C); (2nd) Jonatan Berggren (C); (2nd) Jared McIssac (D); (3rd) Alec Regula (D); (3rd) Seth Barton (D); (3rd) Jesper Eliasson (G); (4th) Ryan O’Reilly (RW); (6th) Victor Brattstrom (G); (7th) Otto Kivenmaki.

Analysis: Zadina showed promise in his first extended stay in the NHL last season before a fractured ankle and the pandemic ended his season. Veleno progressed in his first pro test in Grand Rapids. The others are years away from the NHL – if at all.

►Grade: B


Picks: (1st) Moritz Seider (D); (2nd) Antti Tuomisto (D); (2nd) Robert Mastrosimone (LW); (2nd) Albert Johansson (D); (3rd) Albin Grewe (LW); (4th) Ethan Phillips (C); (5th) Cooper Moore (D); (6th) Elmer Soderblom (LW); (6th) Gustav Berglund (D); (7th) Kirill Tyutyayev (LW); (7th) Carter Gylander (G).

Analysis: Steve Yzerman surprised everyone by drafting Seider sixth overall, but the pick looks shrewd today. Seider had a good season in Grand Rapids and could be in the NHL next season. All the others are years away, but Tuomisto, Johansson Soderblom and Berglund offer promise.

►Grade: B

Twitter @tkulfan

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