| The Detroit News
Steve Yzerman discusses upcoming NHL Draft, addresses questions about some key players
Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman met with the media Thursday to talk about Tuesday’s NHL Draft. He also fielded questions about other players.
Detroit — Everyone suspected the Red Wings would lead off the NHL Entry Draft — and in a way, they still might.
It’s just most folks expected the Wings — who had the NHL’s worst record — would win the draft lottery and select Alexis Lafreniere No. 1, starting the evening for the rest of the league.
But the Wings dropped to fourth in the lottery — the New York Rangers wound up first, with Los Angeles second and Ottawa third — and suddenly it was a different sort of responsibility headed the Wings’ way.
Three players — Lafreniere, Quinton Byfield and Tim Stutzle — have basically separated themselves from the pack in analyzing this draft class.
So, those three players likely will be gobbled by the Rangers, Los Angeles and Ottawa.
That means, when the Wings pick fourth, in some ways the NHL Entry Draft will begin, and it could go in any number of directions.
The Wings have needs everywhere, and could use a high-scoring forward, or an elite defenseman, or a game-altering goaltender.
And those types of prospects will be available to the Wings with the fourth pick overall.
Who the Wings will pick there will, obviously, scramble the potential picks for teams following the Wings, leading to a genuine sense of intrigue.
In what could be a chaotic evening of moving and shaking — most analysts expect a number of trades also, with draft picks changing hands — here’s how The Detroit News sees the first round unfolding in its mock draft 2.0.
► 1. New York Rangers: Alexis Lafreniere, left wing, Rimouski (QMJHL). Nothing has changed here. Lafreniere is the best player in this class and goes to an organization that has deftly handled a rebuild (and was plenty lucky in this draft lottery).
► 2. Los Angeles Kings: Quinton Byfield, center, Sudbury (OHL). Byfield (6-4, 215) reminds plenty of scouts of Evgeni Malkin. If he’s close to that comparison, the Kings are getting quite a prize.
► 3. Ottawa Senators: Tim Stutzle, LW, Mannheim (Germany). There are some scouts who believe Stutzle will be the best player in this class when it’s analyzed three to five years down the line. Stutzle plays at a high speed.
► 4. Detroit Red Wings: Jamie Drysdale, defenseman, Erie (OHL). The Wings need help everywhere, so several prospects could be in play. The feeling here, though, is Drysdale is the type of defenseman the Wings can’t pass up.
► 5. Ottawa Senators: Marco Rossi, C, Ottawa (OHL). Rossi plays at such an electric pace, and dazzled last season at both ends of the rink. He’d be a nice pick for the hometown Senators.
► 6. Anaheim Ducks: Jake Sanderson, D, USNDTP. A bit of a change here. The Ducks want to fortify defense in their organization, and Sanderson’s stock has been rising.
► 7. New Jersey Devils: Lucas Raymond, LW, Frolunda (SHL). The Devils make their first of three picks in this round with a pure goal-scorer from Sweden.
► 8. Buffalo Sabres: Cole Perfetti, center, Saginaw (OHL). The Sabres instantly jump at the chance of selecting the mature, instinctive Perfetti if he’s suddenly available to them.
► 9. Minnesota Wild: Anton Lundell, C, HIFK-Liiga (Finland). The Wild need depth up the middle and Lundell seems like a natural replacement for Mikko Koivu, who might retire.
► 10. Winnipeg Jets: Alexander Holtz, right wing, Djurgarden (Sweden). The Jets need depth on defense in their organization, but this potential goal-scorer is tough to pass on, especially with Patrik Laine’s future uncertain in Winnipeg.
► 11. Nashville Predators: Kaiden Guhle, D, Prince Albert (WHL). Goaltending is something the Predators might need to address, but defense is more of an issue in the organization, and Guhle appears to be a good choice here.
► 12. Florida Panthers: Seth Jarvis, C, Portland (WHL). Winnipeg has been linked to Jarvis, too, but if the two-way center is still on the board, it would be surprising if he lasts past Florida.
► 13. Carolina Hurricanes: Yaroslav Askarov, goaltender, SKA (Russia). Some team is going to draft this potential generational goalie. The Hurricanes are in good position to take the minor gamble and take a goalie this high in the draft.
► 14. Edmonton Oilers: Jack Quinn, RW, Ottawa (OHL). Some scouts are nervous about Quinn’s skating, but Quinn’s ability to finish scoring chances should blend well with Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid.
► 15. Toronto Maple Leafs: Dawson Mercer, RW/C, Ottawa (OHL). A heady forward who is being praised for his instincts on the ice, Mercer could develop quickly en route to the NHL.
► 16. Montreal Canadiens: Dylan Holloway, C, Wisconsin. Holloway would fit well with the Leafs, too, but if he lasts this long, Montreal is likely to snap up Holloway quickly.
► 17. Chicago Blackhawks: Braden Schneider, D, Brandon (WHL). The Blackhawks need offensive depth, but the potential Schneider has makes him too good to pass up.
► 18. New Jersey Devils: Jacob Perreault, RW, Sarnia (OHL). The Devils have centers, but need more skill on the wings. Perreault might have the hardest shot in the draft class and will be able to finish those passes from Jack Hughes.
► 19. Calgary Flames: Hendrix Lapierre, C, Chicoutimi (QMJHL). Lapierre was highly rated before the season, but injuries hampered his development. The Flames could nab a sleeper here.
► 20. New Jersey Devils: Connor Zary, C, Kamloops (WHL). With their third pick, the Devils continue to stock up with potential game-breakers. Zary is a top-15 talent in some scouts’ eyes.
► 21. Columbus Blue Jackets: William Wallinder, D, MODO-Allsvenskan (Sweden). Just in case negotiations with Seth Jones and Zach Werenski go badly the next few seasons, Wallinder provides insurance.
► 22. New York Rangers: Ridly Greig, C, Brandon (WHL). The Rangers might trade this pick to get immediate help, but if they stay here and Greig is still available, it would be quite an evening for them.
► 23. Philadelphia Flyers: Brendan Brisson, C, Chicago (USHL). Brisson had 59 points in 45 games last season and has been attracting attention in the last several weeks. This might be a good landing spot for the incoming Michigan freshman.
► 24. Washington Capitals: Rodion Amirov, LW, Ufa (Russia). The Capitals have drafted and developed young Russian players in the past, and Amirov might be the latest.
► 25. Colorado Avalanche: Thomas Bordeleau, C, USNTDP. Bordeleau is a bit of reach, but he’s been a dynamic offensive player and could prove to be a steal for the Avalanche at this point in the draft.
► 26. St. Louis Blues: Justin Barron, D, Halifax (QMJHL). With the Blues’ defensive corps potentially in a state of flux, Barron is insurance for the future.
► 27. Anaheim Ducks: Ryan O’Rourke, D, Sault Ste. Marie (OHL). The Ducks are able to fill their need for defense, although there are several Europeans here, too, they would consider.
► 28. Ottawa Senators: Jan Mysak, C, Hamilton, (OHL). The Senators continue rebuilding their organization with a sturdy two-way center who could be swiped earlier.
► 29. Vegas Golden Knights: Jeremie Poirier, D, Saint John (QMJHL). The Golden Knights have age and salary cap issues, and Poirier is a player who has risen on draft boards. He could energize a roster that will need youth in a year or two.
► 30. Dallas Stars: Noel Gunler, RW, Lulea (Sweden). GM Jim Nill has done well with Swedish players, and Gunler appears to be a safe pick.
► 31. San Jose Sharks: Ty Smilanic, C, USNTP. Similanic has versatility and could be switched to wing to utilize a powerful shot.