Red Wings go big with defenseman Simon Edvinsson, goalie Sebastian Cossa

Detroit News

Detroit — A developing trend around the NHL is to acquire the big, smooth-skating defenseman who can provide offense and be a pillar defensively.

A team wouldn’t mind a big, athletic goalie.

In Friday’s first-round of the NHL Entry Draft, the Red Wings hope to have gotten both.

They took defenseman Simon Edvinsson and goaltender Sebastian Cossa, both big bodies who look the part of legimiate NHL prospects.

The Wings are beginning to develop a stable of big, mobile defensemen, and added another one Friday by drafting Edvinsson.

At 6-foot-5, 207 pounds, Edvinsson plays with grit, is a great skater, and is accountable at both ends of the rink.

In short, Edvinsson is a nice addition to an already endless array of intriguing defense prospects which includes Moritz Seider, Albert Johansson, William Wallinder, Donovan Sebrango, Antti Tuomisto and Jared McIsaac, among others.

“He’s a big, rangy defenseman that can really skate,” general manager Steve Yzerman said. “He’s got good puck skills. We see his potential to be a left-shot defenseman that can play a lot of minutes and be a solid defender that can add some offense to the game as well.

“We like his skating ability and his size, his reach. We’re hoping he can become a big-minute defenseman.”

Yzerman felt it was important to get the best prospect available at No. 6, and Edvinsson checked the boxes with his size and ability.

“We saw a need for us, but again, a big defenseman that we think will play a lot of minutes,” Yzerman said.

Yzerman played a big part in constructing Tampa Bay’s dominant defense while managing the Lightning organization.

Yzerman says he believes successful teams must have a real good defense — along with a good goaltender.

More: Niyo: Yzerman, Red Wings hoping this draft proves to be a net gain

“You’re not going to win without a good goalie or a defensive core,” Yzerman said. “Once you’re a solid hockey team, you’ll be competitive and win a lot of nights.

“We’re trying to draft good defensemen, and if they are big, and can handle the puck and skate, that excites everyone.”

Kris Draper, the Wings’ amateur scouting director, saw Edvinsson extensively at the world under-18 championships and came away impressed with Edvinsson’s skating and potential.

“A very smooth skater, his edge work and his decisions with the puck, it’s something that impressed all of us,” Draper said. “We were able to watch him play quite a bit in Texas (under-18 tournament) and one of the rinks was a smaller rink, you were literally on top of the players.

“Some of us watching Simon, with his size and skating the way he did, his edge work, it left an impression on us.”

Draper feels the expectations of the Wings are the same as Edvinsson’s.

“That he’s going to come in and he’ll be a top pair, or top-4 defenseman for us and play for a lot of years in a Detroit Red Wings uniform,” Draper said.

Yzerman said Edvinsson likely will play in Frolunda, in Sweden, for at least another year before coming to North America.

As for Cossa, the Wings traded up to get a chance to select the 6-foot-6 goaltender out of Edmonton in the Western Hockey League.

The Wings sent Dallas the 23rd (first round), 48th (second round) and 138th (sixth round) picks to move up to the Stars’ 15th selection to secure Cossa, who was 17-1-1 with a 1.57 goals-against average and .941 save percentage last season.

Cossa was the first goaltender picked in the draft.

“Our hope is where we picked him, you’re getting a starting goaltender,” Yzerman said. “We think he has the ability to do that.

“He has the ability, he’s athletic, and technically sound, and we think he’s a real good prospect, and potentially, a starter.”

Both Draper and Yzerman were impressed with Cossa during interviews.

“He’s confident, he speaks well, and we enjoyed meeting him,” Yzerman said. “But mostly, we liked the fact he looks like he can stop the puck.”

The passion Cossa has for the game, Draper said, came through in the conversations.

“Just getting to know him, the more you talked to him he was comfortable talking to us and the way he interacted, he was asking questions of us,” Draper said. “Questions about being a Detroit Red Wing and the expectations.

“It just kept coming back to the passion he has for the game and the competitiveness he has.”

By acquiring goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic and defenseman Nick Leddy, and moving up to draft Cossa, the Wings now have six picks Saturday, when they originally had 10.

But Draper feels the Wings made the right choice in dealing those picks to get stronger currently.

“They made sense,” Draper said. “We were able to bring in Nick Leddy, and he’s going to be a great mentor for all of your young defensemen. He can skate and the last couple of years going on long playoff runs with the New York Islanders, it just made sense to bring Nick Leddy in.

“And Nedeljkovic, it was a position we were looking for and we were able to get a 25-year-old goaltender that was pretty impressive this year and stepped up in big moments in the playoffs.

“When I’m walking into Little Caesars Arena, there’s a sense of pride to watching the Red Wings play. Those moves, and moving out those picks to bring in players we brought in, it made sense to our organization.”

Twitter: @tkulfan

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