It’s always a fun day when resident TSN draft expert Bob McKenzie puts out his draft rankings. They’re usually close to the industry consensus on players, which means that what you see may very well be what you get when draft day rolls around. There were a few things that caught the eye of fans, but the most important being the order of the top two players, with Slovak prospect Juraj Slafkovsky coming in first overall and Shane Wright ending up second.
Let’s get one thing straight before continuing; this is all speculation. However, McKenzie hasn’t messed up first overall selection in his rankings since 2009, according to a visual from PuckEmpire, so it’s certainly worth talking about. And whether or not you agree with the ranking, “Bobby Margarita” bases them on a survey of 10 scouts, and they had Slafkovsky in a 5-4 win for first overall.
So, how does this ranking affect the Detroit Red Wings? Well, it opens up lots more options for general manager Steve Yzerman and the front office to explore. The 8th overall selection will still net a solid, NHL-impact level player. Whether it’s a player like Matthew Savoie, who was selected 8th in SB Nation’s mock 2022 NHL Draft by us, or players like Frank Nazar, Cutter Gauthier, Marco Kaspar, or Jonathan Lekkerimaki, among others, there will be a bounty to choose from in their current position. However, if the Montreal Canadiens were to take Slafkovsky first overall, it would open a new, more exciting door.
The Red Wings notably have a vacant second-line center spot. With the talk surrounding the New Jersey Devils trading away their second overall selection, I don’t see why Yzerman wouldn’t take a long hard look at trading up. A one-two punch of Larkin and Wright down the middle could solve a big roster hole.
The real question is, what would it take for the Devils to move their second overall selection? It will not be cheap, but the Red Wings could pull it off.
The package would likely start with the eighth overall pick and Tyler Bertuzzi. It would be a big surprise if the Devils didn’t have Slafkovsky at the top of their leaderboard, but if he’s gone, the Red Wings could move the 27-year-old winger to New Jersey in a trade to help compensate for the loss.
Bertuzzi scored 62 points in 68 games, including 30 goals, and alongside centers like Jack Hughes and Nico Hischier, he could keep that pace up at a relatively cheap $4.75 million. Along with the solid goal-scoring, there’s the opportunity to select another strong impact player with an excellent scoring touch like Lekkerimaki.
Another player that the Red Wings could add to the package is Filip Hronek. In 78 games in 2021-22, the right-handed defenseman had 5 goals and 33 assists for 38 total points. With the possibility of PK Subban leaving the team, it’s possible that Tom Fitzgerald could be looking for a replacement in the lineup that doesn’t require committing lots of free-agent dollars that the Devils could spend elsewhere.
The Red Wings have 10 total picks in the 2022 NHL Draft, so if the Devils wanted one or two more in the package, they could provide it. All this being said that a package of Bertuzzi, Hronek, 8th overall pick, and another mid-round selection could be enough to entice the Devils into trading back.
It’s hard to give up a player like Bertuzzi, who can bring it all on every night. A first-line winger that produced well last season is always valuable. There’s also the fact that Hronek may not fit what the Devils want, so they may wish to pursue a right-handed defenseman elsewhere. However, centers like Shane Wright don’t come around very often, so if the opportunity to trade up and select him comes around, there isn’t much I would be upset about Yzerman moving to get him.
The Red Wings could accelerate the rebuilding process even more after addressing the second-line center roster problem, especially considering the Red Wings have more than enough cap space to pursue a highly touted winger in free agency. Plenty of options could provide the same or, at the very least, almost similar production to what Bertuzzi has given. In the end, all of this could be meaningless, but as we’ve all seen repeatedly, anything can happen on draft day, so Red Wings management should explore all options.