Detroit Red Wings 2020 NHL draft analysis: Lucas Raymond is coming to America

Detroit Free Press

This is the final installment of a five-part series evaluating the Detroit Red Wings‘ most recent NHL drafts leading up to the 2021 event, to be held virtually on July 23-24.

Among the intriguing stories for the Detroit Red Wings this fall is how Lucas Raymond will look in his new home.

Raymond was general manager Steve Yzerman’s top pick in the pandemic-delayed 2020 draft; his season in Sweden’s top hockey league was cut short in February by an arm injury. He was Yzerman’s second first-round pick in charge of the Wings, selected last October as the COVID-19 pandemic forced the NHL to reschedule an event that usually take places in June.

The Wings have the sixth pick in the 2021 draft, holding steady in the draft lottery. That was better than they fared last year. The Wings were an abject horror show in 2019-20: They secured the league’s worst record March 10; when the NHL paused the season two days later, they were the only team already mathematically eliminated.

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The NHL designed a return-to-play scheme that included a play-in round (though players were credited with playoff statistics). The eight losers from that round were included in the draft lottery,  which saw the Wings fall to the fourth spot, while the New York Rangers segued from the play-in round to the first selection.

At No. 4, the Wings consoled themselves with Raymond.

“We think he has all the tools to be an elite forward in the NHL,” Yzerman said at the time. “He has excellent hockey sense. Very creative player, good shooter, good all-around skills for the game, very competitive, very smart. We kind of like the whole package. Everything about his game. We don’t see any real weaknesses.”

Raymond was one of 12 picks the Wings made at the Oct. 6-7 event. Here is a closer look at each selection.

Round 1: F Lucas Raymond

Drafted: No. 4 overall.

Draft year: 4 goals, 6 assists in 33 games with Frolunda (SHL).

Scouting report: High-end hockey sense, no glaring weaknesses.

The buzz: Raymond (5 feet 10, 183 pounds) recorded six goals and 12 assists in 34 games with Frölunda, in what was the 19-year-old’s third season in the SHL. He tied for the team lead in scoring with five points in five games representing Sweden at the World Junior Championship in January, his second straight appearance at that event.

The Wings signed Raymond to a three-year entry-level contract in April, paving the way for him to come to North America. Odds are, he’ll start with the Grand Rapids Griffins, but that could change if he has a great training camp.

“I don’t want to rule it out,” Yzerman said in May. “He just has to put the time and the work in. It’s a natural evolution of a teenager turning into an adult. We just believe it’s a matter of time, and we’re confident he’ll put the work in and develop the strength and power needed to do the things he wants to do in the NHL.”

Wings’ 2016 draft: Still waiting for class to make an impact

Wings’ 2017 draft: Draft lottery represented a new chapter for team

Wings’ 2018 draft: Top picks poised to boost competitiveness

Wings’ 2019 draft: Steve Yzerman makes first imprint on rebuild

Round 2: D William Wallinder

Drafted: No. 32 overall.

Draft year: 5 goals, 19 assists in 24 games with MODO Hockey J20 in J20 SuperElit.

Scouting report: Skilled skater with great potential as he grows stronger.

The buzz: Wallinder (6-4, 192) recorded a goal and five assists in 43 games for MODO in Sweden’s second-tier league. A mobile puck carrier with an eye for creating offense, he is earmarked to play next season in the SHL for Rögle.

Round 2: F Theodor Niederbach

Drafted: No. 51 overall.

Draft year: 15 goals, 33 assists in 40 games with Frolunda HC J20 in J20 SuperElit.

Scouting report: Highly skilled, good vision.

Wingspan: Niederbach (5-11, 172) appeared in 20 games last season in the SHL, recording five points with Frölunda. He spent 15 games in Sweden’s second-tier league, HockeyAllsvenskan, recording nine points in 15 games with MODO. Has a high hockey IQ and excellent puck handling skills. Slated to play next season in the SHL with Frölunda, which keeps him on a great developmental track.

Round 2: F Cross Hanas

Drafted: No. 55 overall.

Draft year: 22 goals, 27 assists in 60 games with Portland Winterhawks (Western Hockey League).

Scouting report: Creative puck handler.

The buzz: Spent 27 games on loan to the Lincoln Stars in the USHL, tallying 16 points in 27 games. Appeared in six games for the Winterhawks, notching four points. USA Hockey added Hanas to the 2021 World Junior Summer Showcase roster, which serves as an evaluation camp for the national team for the 2022 World Juniors.

Round 3: D Donovan Sebrango

Drafted: No. 63 overall.

Draft year: 6 goals, 24 assists in 56 games with Kitchener (Ontario Hockey League).

Scouting report: Old-school grit with new-school offense.

The buzz: Sebrango (6-1, 190) collected three points in five games during a brief loan to HK Levice in Slovakia. The 19-year-old then made a favorable impression playing 31 games (with four assists) with the Griffins. Signed his entry-level contract in April.

Round 3: D Eemil Viro

Drafted: No. 70 overall.

Draft year: 3 assists in 29 games with TPS in Finland’s top league.

Scouting report: Strong skater, with the smarts to match.

The buzz: Viro (6-0, 165) kicked off 2021 helping Finland win bronze at the World Juniors. The 19-year-old notched four goals, 10 assists and a plus-13 rating in 53 games with TPS, averaging more than 17 minutes per game. In 13 playoff games, he had four points, including a winning goal. Works relentlessly to improve.

Round 4: F Sam Stange

Drafted: No. 97 overall.

Draft year: 26 goals and 19 assists in 48 games with Sioux City and Sioux Falls (USHL).

Scouting report: Good-sized winger with a quick-release shot.

The buzz: Stange (6-1, 201) recorded six goals and one assist in 29 games at Wisconsin, where he’s under the guidance of former Wings assistant coach Tony Granato.

Round 4: G Jan Bednar

Drafted: No. 107 overall.

Draft year: Posted a 4.39 goals-against average and .884 save percentage in 13 games with HC Energie Karlovy Vary (Czech) and a 3.26 GAA and .873 save percentage in 24 games with HC Banik Sokolov (Czech-2).

Scouting report: Acrobatic, athletic goalie.

The buzz: Bednar (6-4, 196) appeared in 12 games in 2020-21 for Acadie-Bathurst in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, posting a 3.62 goals-against average and .894 save percentage. Appeared in one game at the World Juniors, posting a 1.00 GAA and .958 save percentage. Will continue his development at Acadie-Bathurst.

Round 5: D Alex Cotton

Drafted: No. 132 overall.

Draft year: 20 goals and 47 assists in 63 games with Lethbridge (WHL).

Scouting report: Smart player who can run a power play.

The buzz: Doing well with Lethbridge, posting seven goals and 19 assists in 24 games this season. Four goals and 16 assists came during man advantages.

Round 6: D Kyle Aucoin

Drafted: No. 156 overall.

Draft year: 2 goals and 11 assists in 48 games with Tri-City (USHL).

Scouting report: Son of former NHL player Adrian Aucoin.

The buzz: Spent the season in the USHL, posting three points in 19 games with Tri-City and 10 points in 28 games with Muskegon. Slated to play next season at Harvard.

Round 7: F Kienan Draper

Drafted: No. 187 overall.

Draft year: 26 goals and 25 assists in 56 games with St. Andrew’s College (CAHS).

Scouting report: His dad is four-time Stanley Cup champion Kris Draper, now the Wings’ director of amateur scouting.

The buzz: Had three goals and four assists in 37 games with Omaha in the USHL. Slated to play next season at Miami (Ohio) University.

Round 7: F Chase Bradley

Drafted: No. 203 overall.

Draft year: 7 goals, 12 assists in 34 games with Omaha (USHL).

Scouting report: Has a knack for finding scoring opportunities in limited time.

The buzz: Put up 22 goals and 18 assists in 52 games for Sioux City in the USHL. Slated to play next season at Connecticut.

Read about Red Wings historic drafts — and much more

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 hstjames@freepress.com

Contact Helene St. James at hstjames@freepress.com. 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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