If the selection of Mortiz Seider back in 2019 showed fans anything, it’s that Steve Yzerman does not care about the “consensus” ranking of prospects. Let’s look at a few prospects that Yzerman could end up snagging significantly earlier than expected with the 6th overall pick.
Just a few weeks ago, it would’ve been silly to say that any goalie other than Jesper Wallstedt will be the first off the board. But according to the Athletic’s Corey Pronman, there are a good amount of scouts now leaning towards Cossa instead of Wallstedt.
Cossa’s size and raw athleticism are his biggest draws. Standing at 6-foot-6, he towers over the entrance of the net, cutting off most angles and using his athleticism to stifle any high-danger chances. He illustrated his skills in net with the Edmonton Oil Kings in the WHL this season. Cossa had a fantastic rookie season with the Oil Kings; in his first year with the team, he secured a save percentage of .921 through 33 games. Although the sample size was smaller (The WHL had a shortened season due to Covid), Cossa managed to improve in the 2021 season to a league-leading .941.
The biggest concern with Cossa is lack of experience. Compared to what scouts typically get to look at, 52 games through two years is relatively limited. It also doesn’t help that he played with one of the best teams in the league, possessing an elite defensive unit. But the numbers are too good to write off because of limited play.
So could Yzerman take the risk and draft a goaltender 6th overall? As always, it’s impossible to tell. Although there has certainly been more support for Cossa of late, Wallstedt is still the goalie in the draft. It’s hard to imagine the Red Wings picking any goalie other than Wallstedt with the 6th overall. But if they are hell bent on improving the goaltending pipeline, it could never hurt to have an athletic giant in the crease.
The Swedish Roadrunner. Ranked as a top five player in some mocks and a borderline first-rounder in others, Lysell is one of the most contentious prospects in the draft.
Lysell is a prospect developing in the SHL. He began his season playing his fourth year in Frolunda’s junior league in the SHL, eventually requesting a move to Lulea to get some minutes in the pros. The organization immediately threw him in, where he remained for the last 26 games of the season. Lysell went from averaging over a point per game in 11 with Frolunda’s under-20 team (3 goals and 10 assists) to just notching a goal and two assists in 26 games in the pro-league. Lysell also had another chance to show off in the World Championship, playing with Sweden’s U-18 team. Again, he managed to average over a point per game (3 goals and 6 assists in 7 games).
Statistically, Fabian Lysell is a bit hard to defend. It looks like he’s a player that struggled mightily to adjust to the talent in the pros; he went from a thriving position as a top-line forward in juniors to just another player to fill out the fourth line in the SHL. However, in this case, situation analysis and tape-watching are a must for gm’s looking to get a full scouting report. The duel threat of transitioning to a better league and limited deployment mean that Lysell wasn’t quite able to illustrate his abilities as expected. However, watching his highlight reels, one sees a prospect with a handful of offensive and defensive skills that seem translatable to the NHL. If he would’ve stayed in Frolunda and showed off in juniors, there’s a chance Lysell could be a consistent name projected in the top five. He has perhaps the best speed in the draft; he’s a workhorse on the ice and he possesses one of the highest ceilings of the class.
Lysell is a very, very risky pick for Detroit, especially at 6th overall. He has all the potential in the world and wants to prove it, which is evident by his work-horse mentality in-game. Lysell could be the solution to the lack of elite talent in the system. He could certainly use another year in the SHL (Something Detroit fans should be fairly comfortable with at this point), but Lysell has already shown flashes of top-six ability in pro-leagues. Lysell could very well end up being that under-the-radar pick that Yzerman snatches up early; his skillset and drive are fantastic fits in the Yzerplan. It might not be the prediction in most draft boards, but Yzerman picking up one of the most skilled skaters and playmakers in the draft should certainly be in consideration.
It might be considered a reach, but the potential center’s natural ability to score goals might be too much for Yzerman to ignore.
Projected just outside the top ten, Lucius is expected to be one of the top centers taken in the draft. Although 2021 started off with an injury, Lucius was eventually able to play in the USHL and with the U.S. U-18 team. In 12 USHL games, he managed to net 13 goals and five assists. Lucius continued to impress with his scoring ability on the national team, scoring 13 goals and seven assists in just 13 games.
Lucius has one of the best array of shots in the draft; he can score in nearly any part of the offensive zone. The lethal scoring ability combined with some raw offensive skills (Good stick/puck handling) make for a player that can just drive an offense. Lucius needs to work on his defense a bit, although he’s not a slacker in his own zone; he’ll harass opposing forwards and keep up pressure to force turnovers/ill-advised passes.
So does Yzerman select the goal scoring winger/center 6th overall? Like the other two prospects mentioned, it’s not too likely. If Lucius is selected with Detroit’s first draft pick, it’ll likely be with the expectation that he can translate his skills as a center to the NHL. Yzerman could reach for Lucius to fill the need of a goal-scorer that the team needs down the middle in the pipeline.