Detroit Red Wings’ NHL draft review: 2017 represented a new chapter for team

Detroit Free Press

The Detroit Red Wings experienced something new in 2017: Life in the draft lottery.

On March 28, the Wings were eliminated from the playoffs, ending a playoff streak that began in 1991 and included four Stanley Cup championships. The Wings finished with the sixth-worst record, but that was also the year the Vegas Golden Knights joined the NHL, and the new franchise entered with the third-best odds for winning the draft lottery. (They ended up picking sixth.)

That pushed the Wings back to seventh in odds, and they fell two more spots following the lottery, as the Philadelphia Flyers jumped from 13th to pick second and the Dallas Stars moved up from one spot behind Detroit to pick third. The New Jersey Devils jumped from fifth to first. Nico Hischier went first and Nolan Patrick second.

THE PAST: 2016 draft review: Still waiting for class to greatly impact rebuild

THE PRESENT: NHLPA releases annual player poll: Wings don’t rate in any category

THE FUTURE: Steve Yzerman won’t give a timeline on Wings rebuild. Here’s why

Had the Wings even had enough good fortune to get the third pick, they could have drafted defenseman Miro Heiskanen — who has drawn comparisons to Nicklas Lidstrom — or defenseman Cale Makar (fourth, Colorado Avalanche) — a 2021 Norris Trophy finalist — or forward Elias Petterson (fifth, Vancouver Canucks), who leads the 2017 class with 153 points in 165 games.

This is the second of a five-part series evaluating the most recent drafts leading up to the 2021 event on July 23-24. Only 14 players from the 2017 class have topped 100 games – and that’s why there aren’t many instances where it is clear — yet — if a better choice could have been made.

Round 1: F Michael Rasmussen

Drafted: No. 9 overall.

Draft year: 32 goals, 23 assists in 50 games for Tri-City Americans (Western Hockey League).

Scouting report: Big competitive guy with a knack for scoring around the net.

Wingspan: Played in Austria (16 points in 18 games for Graz99ers) last fall and was recalled when hockey started in North America. Recorded three goals and nine assists in 40 games in 2021 for the Wings, looking markedly stronger and more mobile. Looks like he’ll fit into the rebuild as a bottom-six center and power play guy.

In hindsight: The Wings could have filled their need for a goaltender for the future in 6-feet-5, 225-pound Jake Oettinger (No. 26 overall, Stars). The 22-year-old went 11-8-7 with a 2.36 goals-against average and .911 save percentage in 24 starts (29 appearances) in 2020-21. … Forward Robert Thomas (No. 20, St. Louis Blues) has 87 points in 169 games. … Center Filip Chytil (No. 21, New York Rangers) has 71 points in 186 games and twice has posted in in the low teens in goals.

Round 2: D Gustav Lindstrom

Drafted: No. 38 overall.

Draft year: 2 goals, 7 assists in 48 games for Almtuna AS (Allsvenska).

Scouting report: Sound at both ends of the ice.

Wingspan: Split the season between the Wings (three assists in 13 games) and the Grand Rapids Griffins (three assists in 13 games). Plays with composure and generally makes smart decisions with the puck. Will have to be protected in expansion draft, or else risk being lost to the Seattle Kraken.

In hindsight: Jason Robertson (No. 39, Dallas Stars) is a finalist for the 2021 Calder Trophy. The 21-year-old forward (6-3, 210 pounds) posted 17 goals and 28 assists in 51 games.

Round 3: D Kasper Kotkansalo

Drafted: No. 71 overall.

Draft year: 1 goal, 11 assists in 47 games for Sioux Falls (United States Hockey League).

Scouting report: Strong skater with good hockey sense.

Wingspan: Left Boston University last year after three seasons to play in Finland. Wings are not planning to sign him.

Round 3: F Lane Zablocki

Drafted: No. 79 overall.

Draft year: 26 goals, 26 assists in 64 games split between Regina and Red Deer (WHL).

Scouting report: Can factor with production and physicality.

Wingspan: No longer in the system.

Round 3: F Zachary Gallant

Drafted: No. 83 overall.

Draft year: 21 goals, 26 assists in 60 games for Peterborough Petes (Ontario Hockey League).

Scouting report: Good two-way player.

Wingspan: No longer in the system.

Round 3: G Keith Petruzzelli

Drafted: No. 88 overall.

Draft year: 21-10-1, 2.41 goals-against average, .917 save percentage with Muskegon (USHL).

Scouting report: Athletic 6-foot-5 goalie with a butterfly style.

Wingspan: Has played past four seasons at Quinnipiac University, posting a 1.89 goals-against average and .926 save percentage in 29 games. Has another year of college eligibility (granted extra NCAA eligibility because of the coronavirus pandemic). Wings are not planning to sign him.

In hindsight: Emil Bemstrom (No. 117, Columbus Blue Jackets) is a 6-foot, right-shot center who has appeared in 76 games (13 goals, 12 assists).

Round 4: D Malte Setkov

Drafted: No. 100.

Draft year: 2 goals, 10 assists in 38 games with Malmo J20 (SuperElit).

Scouting report: Smart defender who moves the puck well.

Wingspan: Has been playing in Sweden. Wings are not planning to sign him.

In hindsight: Drake Batherson (No. 121, Ottawa Senators) is a right-shot forward who recorded 17 goals and 17 assists in 56 games for the Senators this season. He has 53 points in 99 career games.

2021 DRAFT PREVIEW: Why center Mason McTavish would make sense

Round 5: D Cole Fraser

Drafted: No. 131.

Draft year: 6 goals, 13 assists in 61 games for Peterborough Petes (OHL).

Scouting report: Loves to throw his body around.

Wingspan: No longer in the system.

Round 6: F John “Jack” Adams

Drafted: No. 162.

Draft year: 37 goals, 23 assists in 56 games with Fargo (USHL).

Scouting report: Big (6-feet-6, 209 pounds) and skilled, needs to improve his skating.

Wingspan: Missed all of 2019-20 after tearing both the anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments in his right knee during Wings development camp in 2019. Appeared in six games for Providence College in 2020-21, and is enrolled to play at Notre Dame next season. Wings retain his rights.

Round 6: D Reilly Webb

Drafted: No. 164.

Draft year: 1 assist in 12 games for Hamilton (OHL).

Scouting report: Good skater, moves the puck well.

Wingspan: No longer in the system.

Round 7: F Brady Gilmour

Drafted: No. 193.

Draft year: 26 goals, 21 assists in 65 games with Saginaw (OHL).

Scouting report: Character player.

Wingspan: No longer in the system.

In hindsight: Goaltender Cayden Primeau (No. 199, Montreal Canadiens), the son of former Wings forward Keith Primeau, is a prospect for the Habs who posted a 2.10 GAA and .909 save percentage in 16 AHL games. Over the past two seasons, the 21-year-old has appeared in six NHL games, posting a 3.55 GAA and a .885 save percentage.

Need some summer reading?

What: “The Big 50: The Detroit Red Wings.”

Author: Helene St. James, who has covered the Red Wings at the Detroit Free Press since 1996. Foreword by Chris Osgood, winner of three Stanley Cups as a Wings goaltender.

Publisher: Triumph Books.

Pages: 336 pages (paperback).

Price: $16.95.

Availability: Available in leading bookstores and online from booksellers, including Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

About the book: “The Big 50” brings to life the men and moments that made the Red Wings such a dynamic and iconic franchise for nearly a century. The book features never-before-told stories about the greats such as Howe, Yzerman, Lidstrom and Lindsay, the near-greats beloved by fans and the great memories of Fight Night, the Fabulous Fifties, the Team for the Ages, the Grind Line, The Joe and much more.

Get it signed! For a personalized copy of “The Big 50,” contact St. James at

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.

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