| The Detroit News
Detroit – When you look at the list of players drafted in the seventh (now final) round who have gone on to success in the NHL, it is rather eye-opening.
There are Stanley Cup champions such as forwards Ondrej Palat (Tampa Bay) and Patric Hornqvist (with Pittsburgh, now playing for Florida); established stars like goaltender Henrik Lundqvist (Washington) and forward Joe Pavelski (Dallas); as well as players such as Justin Braun (Philadelphia), Jason Demers (Arizona) and Anton Stralman (Florida), all defensemen who’ve played more than 600 games.
It’s an impressive list, and goes to show you it doesn’t matter when you get drafted.
In Detroit, defenseman Jonathan Ericsson (2002, ninth round) and forward Tomas Holmstrom (1994, 10th round) went on to long, successful careers after being selected in late rounds.
And that gives forward Chase Bradley inspiration.
Bradley was the Red Wings’ seventh-round draft pick, the 203rd selection overall, last month. While the odds are against Bradley having a long NHL career, he sees some of those names, and the careers they’ve had, and he’s ready to work for his opportunity.
“For sure, you see some of those players who are drafted in the late round, and the impact they’ve had in the NHL, it’s crazy,” Bradley said in a Zoom media interview after the draft. “It didn’t affect them too much. Being drafted is one of the main things you strive for.
“It definitely doesn’t change my mindset on anything.”
After last month’s draft, Steve Yzerman, the Red Wings’ general manager, talked about how much work NHL scouts put into finding and selecting late-round picks.
“That’s where some of these scouts really take pride in some of these kids turning pro later in the draft,” Yzerman said. “We all sit there and watch the top kids in the draft and it’s easy to say, ‘I chose that guy or this guy in the first round.’ They (scouts) really take pride in finding those guys late, and they work hard at that.”
What the Wings like about Bradley, a 6-foot, 180-pound left wing with Sioux City in the United States Hockey League (three assists in three games so far), is his steady and continued improvement, and his competitiveness.
“He’s a very competitive kid,” said Kris Draper, the Wings’ director of amateur scouting, who saw plenty of Bradley while coaching his son Kienan Draper, who like Bradley was a Wings’ seventh-round draft pick in October. “Our scouts were real excited about him.”
The word competitive was used in almost every scouting update on Bradley, who admits that is one of his defining characteristics.
“It’s a very big deal, winning is everything to me,” Bradley said. “Playing for my teammates, also, and having that competitive mindset is key.”
Bradley, who had seven goals and 12 assists in 34 games with Omaha (USHL) last season, showed his physical edge by getting whistled for 77 penalty minutes.
At the junior level, Bradley likes to use his size and is good around the net.
“(Like) a power forward, using my size to my advantage,” said Bradley, of his playing style. “Be hard on pucks and being a physical player. On the ice I let my game talk and play my game, and off the ice, be respectful and be myself, really.”
Bradley, who’ll play collegiately at Northeastern next year, was getting ready for the junior season when the NHL Draft took place in October, and wasn’t around his family in suburban St. Louis.
The way the entire draft process took place this year, delayed about four months because of the pandemic and done virtually, made for a dramatic change.
And then having to wait until the seventh round to hear your name called made for a somewhat uneasy day.
“I wasn’t with my family, so that was different,” Bradley said. “Getting into the later rounds, you get a little nervous and anxious. But I couldn’t be happier being drafted by Detroit.”
Growing up in St. Louis, Bradley was a big Blues fan, and loved the Red Wings-Blues rivalry some 10 years ago.
“That’s changed now,” said Bradley, who is from Oakville, the same town as two-time Stanley Cup champion Pat Maroon. “It (the rivalry) was awesome. It was a huge rivalry back then. It still kind of is.”
By going to Northeastern, Bradley is giving himself time to mature physically and mentally.
“More time to develop,” Bradley said. “You have to up to four years, and especially playing junior hockey now, it gives you time. That’s the main thing for me. And always having a back up plan, too, going to college.”
►Pick: No. 203 overall (Round 7)
►Position: Left wing
►Height/weight: 6-foot/180 pounds
►Last season: Omaha (USHL) — 34 games, seven goals, 12 assists