Meet the Detroit Red Wings’ draft picks trying to go from the end of the draft to the NHL

Detroit Free Press

Helene St. James
| Detroit Free Press

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They are the long shots of the drafts, the players who, if they become regulars in the NHL, are referred to as “later-round gems.”

Notable players drafted in rounds 4-7 by the Detroit Red Wings include Sergei Fedorov, Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk, Gustav Nyquist, Darren Helm and Petr Mrazek. In the 2020 NHL draft, general manager Steve Yzerman and his scouting staff mined the later rounds for two forwards, two defensemen and one goaltender in hopes of adding a player or two to the rebuild. Two have impeccable hockey pedigrees, and all appear determined to overcome the odds of making the NHL from their draft slots.

More about each player:

F Sam Stange, 4th round (No. 97 overall)

This was quite a round for the Wings. Fedorov, three-time Stanley Cup champion, was taken at 74th overall in 1989, when NHL teams were wary of drafting Russians because of the Cold War. There’s also John Ogrodnick (drafted No. 66 in 1979), who played 558 games with the Wings, and Nyquist (No. 121, 2008), who recorded 295 points in 481 games in a Wings uniform.

Stange (6 foot, 200 pounds) is in good hands, committed to play at Wisconsin, where he’ll be coached by former NHL’er and ex-Wings assistant coach Tony Granato. Stange projects as a power forward. “I’m a bigger, stronger forward who relies on my shot and my speed,” he said. “I also think I’m pretty responsible defensively, so I’d say I’m a two-way forward. One of the things I’m looking to work on is using my size and strength a little bit more, just being more physical.”

More: Grading Detroit Red Wings’ 2020 NHL draft class: Lucas Raymond should be pillar of rebuild

G Jan Bednar, 4th round (No. 107)

A Czech goalie, you say? The Wings have had success with such imports, most notably Dominik Hasek, who backstopped them to the 2002 Stanley Cup. Hasek wasn’t a Wings draft pick but Mrazek was (No. 141, 2010) and he worked his way up to be the starter in the mid-2010s. Both names resonated with Bednar.

“When I was younger I loved Dominik Hasek’s saves,” Bednar said. “I know Petr Mrazek. I saw some documentary from 2002 when Wings won the Stanley Cup with Dominik Hasek, Brett Hull, Steve Yzerman and more. I like them.” Bednar (6-4, 196) is an athletic goalie who is practicing with his old team in his hometown of Karlovy Vary, awaiting word on what will happen with the Canadian Hockey League (he was drafted by Acadie-Bathurst of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League). He split 2019-20 among teams in the top and second-tier Czech leagues. “It was great experiences,” he said.


Goaltender Jan Bednar has big footsteps to follow with Detroit Red Wings

Goaltender Jan Bednar, a 2020 Detroit Red Wings draft pick. Oct. 15, 2020

D Alex Cotton, 5th round (No. 132)

The Wings’ most prolific pick in this round is Helm (No. 132, 2005), who is three games shy of 700. Cotton (6-2, 175) was passed over in the 2019 draft, but drew interest after an explosive improvement in his offense from 11 points in 2018-19 to 67 points in 2019-20. “At the end of my 17-year-old year, I went home and worked super hard in the summer, worked out and skated twice a day. It gave me the confidence. That season last year gave me even more confidence in what I can do and this season I’m going to try to top it.” He’s slated to start his third season with Lethbridge (Western Hockey League) in January. “I think what I do well is create a lot,” he said. “Just my offensive instincts and creating for my teammates and getting open… I’m a deceptive skater, but what I have to work on is just everything in the D-zone.” 


Alex Cotton was drafted by Red Wings after head-turning season

Defenseman Alex Cotton, a 2020 Red Wings draft pick. Oct. 15, 2020.

D Kyle Aucoin, 6th round (No. 156)

No pressure at all on Aucoin, other than trying to emulate the greatest sixth-round pick in franchise history in Datsyuk, who won two Stanley Cups and played 953 games for the Wings. Also, there’s Aucoin’s dad, Adrian, a former defenseman who played more than 1,100 games in the NHL. Kyle (5-10, 164) is a smart two-way player and a strong skater. He’s committed to playing at Harvard starting in 2021-22. “Education has always been really important to me and my family,” he said. “That was the best of both worlds with a great hockey program and a great education.”

Aucoin has history with the Wings’ next pick. While their dads were battling at the NHL level, the boys were battling at the triple-A level. “(Kienan Draper) played on Little Caesars (Hockey Club) growing up and I was at Chicago Mission, so that was kind of like our rival team,” Aucoin said. “So we were playing almost every couple of weekends and it was always a battle. They had a great team, so it was pretty awesome he got picked. He texted me after and was, ‘We’re finally on the same side.’ So that’s cool.”

Related: Ex-Detroit Red Wings share ‘stark naked’ Scotty Bowman stories at roast

F Kienan Draper, 7th round (No. 187)

The best seventh-round pick in franchise history is Zetterberg; he was drafted 210th in 1999 and retired in 2018 having won a Stanley Cup and logging 1,082 games, all in a Wings uniform. Draper may also draw comparisons to his father: Kris wasn’t drafted by the Wings but he played 1,137 games for them and won four Stanley Cups (now he’s their director of amateur scouting). Kienan (6-0, 187) grew up around the Wings and relishes the chance to prove his skill after being drafted by his dad.

“I want to make it a reality and put on that winged wheel,” Kienan said. “It’s something that I’ve been dreaming about since I was 4 or 5  years old. Now that step one has been done, I’m ready to make it come true.” He’s slated to play 2020-21 for the Chilliwack Chiefs (British Columbia Hockey League) and committed to Miami University after that. 


Kienan Draper relishes pressure of being drafted by Detroit Red Wings

Kienan Draper, the son of Kris Draper, is excited to show he can make the Red Wings. Oct. 7, 2020.

F Chase Bradley, 7th round (No. 203)

Zetterberg steals the seventh-round glory but the Wings have had some grit come out of this round. There was defenseman Alexey Marchenko (No. 205, 2011), who played 110 games in a Wings uniform, and defenseman Derek Meech (229th, 2002) who played 126 games for the team. Bradley (5-11, 180) is a highly competitive guy who tries “to use my size to my advantage. I’m always hard on pucks and just being a physical player.” He’s slated to play for Sioux City (United States Hockey League) in 2020-21 and then committed to Northeastern University the following season. “It gives you a lot more time to develop,” he said of going the college route. “You have up to four years, so that’s the main thing for me. And always having a backup plan, going to college, also.” 


Red Wings draft pick Chase Bradley on why he’s going college route

Chase Bradley, a 2020 Detroit Red Wings draft pick. Oct. 15, 2020.

Contact Helene St. James at Follow her on Twitter @helenestjames. Read more on the Detroit Red Wings and sign up for our Red Wings newsletter. Her book, The Big 50: The Detroit Red Wings is available from AmazonBarnes & Noble and Triumph Books. Personalized copies available via her e-mail. 

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