Red Wings’ Jeff Blashill sees benefit of pushing back NHL draft

Detroit News

Ted Kulfan | The Detroit News

The NHL Entry Draft is scheduled for July 23-24, but it’s beginning to look uncertain.

With the majority of junior hockey leagues around the world either paused, or not playing at all, there is significant push from general managers and scouting directors to push the draft back a year.

And you see the talent evaluators’ point. How can you analyze and grade talent, when the players aren’t even playing?

Coach Jeff Blashill can understand the need to push back the draft.

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“I can certainly see the line of thinking,” Blashill said. “There’s been a whole bunch of players who haven’t played, and how do you evaluate guys who haven’t played? It doesn’t seem to be right, I guess, I don’t want to use fair, but right.

“The draft, with the 18-year-old birth year, is hard anyway; it probably, really, should be a later draft, and it would certainly allow teams to get it more right.”

If the draft were to be pushed back a year, there are questions as to how the NHL would then hold two consecutive drafts in short order in 2022.

A lottery would most certainly establish the order of selection by teams. But no one is certain if the value of those picks would be greater, or less than, in terms of trades.

Also, would the NHL hold the drafts on consecutive days, or take days between them, and not overwhelm fans?

The Wings, given the way this regular season could be headed, are likely to again have one of the top picks in the draft. General manager Steve Yzerman, before this season began, suggested the draft should be pushed be back because of lack of adequate evaluation of the prospects.

Another reason to delay it, and get more opportunities to watch the prospects, is it’s so rare in the NHL when a draft pick simply walks onto an NHL roster several months later.

From the 2020 draft, only No. 1 overall pick Alexis Lafreniere (N.Y. Rangers) and No. 3 Tim Stuetzle (Ottawa) are playing in the NHL.

Blashill believes the extra time to play, mature and develop would benefit junior-age players.

“Most of the time, 99% of the time, it’s probably not the best thing for them,” said Blashill, of young player who do immediately jump into the NHL. “Every once in a wile you get a guy who has to play, like a (Connor) McDavid or (Auston) Matthews, who are just so good at that level and they have to walk in and play.

“But most of the picks, if you look at the first years, they’d probably be better served somewhere else. If this delays it a little bit, that’s a positive for those individuals’ development.”

Good opportunity

Defenseman Christian Djoos was a waiver acquisition in the middle of training camp, and his transition onto the roster was delayed because of quarantine measures after arriving from Anaheim.

But since being inserted into the lineup, Djoos has shown glimpses of his strengths as an offensive defenseman.

“Christian has done a solid job; he’s come as advertised,” Blashill said. “He’s a real good puck mover and has real good poise with the puck. He’s a little bit different than what we have in a lot of ways on the back end. We have a lot of guys who are real good defenders and are fine with the puck. He’s a real good passer and has poise and he’s a power play type of guy.

“He’s somebody who can help our power play be better, although we’ve yet to show or prove that, so we’ll be watching.

“Overall, I’ve liked him.”

Djoos, 26, is in his fourth NHL season and wasn’t expecting to be waived by Anaheim. But the fact the Wings claimed him — his dad Par Djoos played briefly with the Wings, too — was a pleasant surprise.

“We had a lot of defensemen on one-ways (contracts) at camp (in Anaheim),” Djoos said. “I was ready to play for Anaheim and I had no idea it (waivers) was coming. Then you’re put on waivers and you get 24 hours to see what happens.

“I was just happy the Red Wings claimed me and now I’m here and it’s a good opportunity.”

Djoos is confident the Wings’ power play, Thursday ranked 30th out of 31 teams, will begin to thrive.

“We had some good looks last game and we probably should have got one (goal) there,” Djoos said. “All the teams have a good penalty kill, it’s tough to score goals nowadays, (but) we’re getting good looks.”

Ice chips

Blashill said goaltender Jonathan Bernier (upper body) could be available to at least back up Thomas Greiss on Saturday in Nashville.

… Blashill feels the Wings need to be more active around the net on the power play.

“We have to do a better job of creating chaos at the net, and having numbers at the net,” Blashill said. “That’s how you score on the power play. You don’t want to over-change and not have any chemistry.”

… Blashill couldn’t say definitely that forward Tyler Bertuzzi (upper body) will be on the ice to at least practice when the Wings return home next week. Bertuzzi will have missed this entire six-game road trip.

Luke Glendening (upper body) missed his second consecutive game Thursday.

Twitter: @tkulfan

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