The Detroit Red Wings’ first round pick in the 2022 NHL Draft will be the lowest in Steve Yzerman’s tenure as general manager. They entered the draft lottery with the eighth-best odds at securing the top pick, and they stayed there after the lottery balls fell. They hold the eighth overall selection, the lowest they have picked since they took Michael Rasmussen with the ninth pick in the 2017 draft.
While the 2022 draft class is highlighted by its top-two players, Shane Wright and Logan Cooley, this is a relatively deep draft, and the top-10 players all have the potential to become franchise cornerstones for their respective teams. While the Red Wings did not win the lottery (again), Yzerman and his scouting team should have a great opportunity to add another top-tier prospect to one of the top prospect pools in the NHL.
Red Wings’ Options at 8th Overall
While it’s hard to nail down exactly who will be available at eighth overall on draft night, there should be a handful of intriguing prospects available when Detroit is on the clock. Taking a look around the scouting world, here’s who several different rankings have as the eighth-best prospect:
With the Red Wings possessing a great depth of defensive prospects, it shouldn’t surprise anyone if Detroit targets a forward with their pick. All the players listed above are forwards, with Lekkerimäki, Savoie and Lambert all either being centers or having experience playing down the middle. Of course, with the Red Wings’ tendency to target Swedish prospects, Lekkerimäki is going to be a name to keep an eye on as we get closer to draft day.
Related: 2022 NHL Draft Guide
The 17-year-old played 26 games in the Swedish Hockey League (SHL) this season and recorded seven goals and nine points. For comparison, Lucas Raymond played 34 games in SHL during his draft season and recorded four goals and 10 points. Lekkerimäki also had a dominant tournament for Sweden at the U18 tournament, recording five goals and 15 points through six games. Known for his shooting ability, Lekkerimäki could be the “yin” to Raymond’s “yang” as Yzerman continues to build the future of the Red Wings’ offense.
Another player worth keeping an eye on at eighth overall is Finnish forward Brad Lambert. Once ranked as a top-three player in this draft class, the narrative surrounding the 18-year-old centerman has shifted as others have seen their draft stock rise. The Hockey News’ Tony Ferrari described Lambert as the player in this class that “has all the tools, but just needs to put them all together.”
Lambert has elite skill and, if developed correctly, could become one of the best players to come out of this draft. Some recent rankings have him slipping into the middle of the first round, while others still have him right around where the Red Wings will pick. Picking him would constitute a “home run swing” similar to when Yzerman shocked everyone and selected Moritz Seider at sixth overall in 2019.
There are plenty of other prospects worth considering at eighth overall, and our Red Wings writing team here The Hockey Writers will be taking a look at every single one of them between now and the draft.
Red Wings Need A Difference-Maker
With Seider and Raymond already in place, Simon Edvinsson and Jonatan Berggren looking to join the team next season, and prospects like Sebastian Cossa, Albert Johansson and William Wallinder looking to push for the NHL within the next couple of years, the Red Wings are in a good spot when it comes to infusing their roster with top-tier young talent.
But they still need more.
The 2022 draft represents what may be their last opportunity to draft in the top-10 while their rebuild is ongoing. The Red Wings have steadily gotten better over the last two seasons, and continued progress from their youngest players will only continue to propel the team forward. There’s a real chance that they will be challenging for the playoffs next season, and that doesn’t usually lead to prime draft positioning.
Yzerman and the Red Wings have an opportunity to add another franchise cornerstone in the first round of this year’s draft. Whether it’s an elite goal-scorer or a player whose skill level is off the charts, the Red Wings need another difference-maker to ensure the rebuild stays on track. If they can add that type of player, it won’t be long before the Red Wings are worrying about playoff positioning instead of draft positioning.
I am a Western Michigan University alum whose passion for hockey knows no limits. Dr. Pepper enthusiast. Catch me and my fellow Red Wings writers’ YouTube show “The Hockey Writers Grind Line” which drops every Saturday.