Who will the Detroit Red Wings select with the eighth-overall pick in the 2022 NHL Draft? We’ll find out for sure on Thursday. But in the meantime, Devin Little and I are here to make the case for our guys – Matthew Savoie and Brad Lambert, respectively.
Let’s set the stage. We’ll assume that the following prospects are chosen with the first seven picks of the draft. The order may not be exact, but these seven will be off the board by the time Steve Yzerman steps to the podium in Montreal.
- C Shane Wright
- LW Juraj Slafkovsky
- C Logan Cooley
- RD Simon Nemec
- RD David Jiricek
- C/LW Cutter Gauthier
- RW Joakim Kemell
With that out of the way, let’s kick things off!
Red Wings Draft Coverage
Red Wings at No. 8: Savoie or Lambert?
Tony Wolak: Okay, Devin – we both have our favorites for Detroit’s first-round pick. I’m high on Brad Lambert. You’re a big advocate for Matthew Savoie. Both would improve the Red Wings’ prospect pipeline and solve a clear organizational need up front. So tell me – why are you leaning toward Savoie?
Devin Little: For me, Savoie checks a lot of boxes for the Red Wings. He is one of, if not the best player in this draft when it comes to skating with the puck on his stick, meaning he can play with pace and attack with speed. He oozes top six potential and has the potential to become a game-breaker on his team’s top line. He played the center position in the Western Hockey League (WHL) this season, and I believe that, with time, he can become a center in the NHL, even if he has to start on the wing at first.
He’s a fun player to watch, and he’s the type of talent that puts butts in seats and sells jerseys. I genuinely think he could be a top-five player to come out of this draft when we look back on it in a decade or so.
But what about you? What about Lambert has won you over?
TW: It’s funny – you and I have a similar perspective, but with different players. Lambert’s skating is second to none. I love his transition play, sheer speed, and game-breaking ability when the puck is on his stick. His vision is also outstanding. Whether in the World Junior Championship (WJC) or other international tournaments, it’s clear that Lambert is one of the best players in his age cohort. Plus, he can play center, too. Detroit needs all of the above.
Getting back to Savoie – are you concerned about his 5-foot-9 frame and how that could impact his game at the NHL level? Can he become the next Brayden Point?
DL: Brayden Point is the exact player that comes to mind when I think about Savoie’s future. Despite his lack of size, Savoie isn’t afraid to attack the slot and get involved in puck battles. He doesn’t play like a 5-foot-9 forward, and I think that’s key for any player of that size. Whether it’s Point, Alex DeBrincat, Martin St. Louis, or Cole Caufield, there are plenty of examples of smaller forwards becoming offensive dynamos despite sometimes playing against giant defensemen in the NHL, and Savoie seems cut from the same cloth as those players.
In regards to Lambert, many people are worried about his offensive output while playing in Finland over the last two seasons. Do you think he has what it takes to produce like an elite player at the NHL level?
TW: Oh, absolutely. His skill is undeniable. He was a constant driver as a 17-year-old for Finland at the last WJC – a U20 tournament. When Lambert skates with other players around his skill level, he produces.
But I’m sure many people are concerned about his lack of production in Finland’s Liiga – both with JYP and Pelicans. I’m not worried about it. Neither team put Lambert in a position to succeed. On a recent episode of the Locked on Red Wings podcast, prospect guru Will Scouch attributed Lambert’s lack of production to subpar linemates in JYP—something fellow 2022 draft prospect Joakim Kemell struggled with after Lambert’s departure—and a conservative game plan with Pelicans. Even with these detractors, the forward was still able to produce fantastic underlying numbers.
In my opinion, Lambert thinks the game faster than his Liiga peers. We’ll see his skill fully come to fruition when he reaches the NHL and will fit in easily in a top-six role. Like Frank Sinatra used to say, the best is yet to come.
But I get it. There’s risk in drafting Lambert eighth-overall. Savoie is less risky, wouldn’t you say?
DL: I would say so – that’s one of the reasons I favor Savoie in this debate. Even if he doesn’t hit his max potential, I think he’ll still develop into a quality top-six forward that will cause headaches for opposing defenders. To be clear, I think he’ll become a top-tier, top-line forward, but his floor doesn’t scare me as much as others do.
Speaking of his floor, I like to call Brad Lambert the “home-run swing” of the first round. If he hits, it’ll be a sight to behold; if he doesn’t hit, the team picking him is going to look quite silly. Do you agree with my assessment?
TW: To be honest, I think Lambert’s knocks are overstated. I don’t think his floor is as low as most people think. That said, there’s some serious variability with Lambert.
I would say Lambert’s floor is lower than Savoie’s, but his ceiling is higher. But with prospects (and most things in life), it’s not either/or floor/ceiling – Lambert will fall somewhere in between. Based on my viewings and research, I’m confident that the forward will ultimately land somewhere above the median point, and to me, that’s still worth the No. 8 pick.
Closing Arguments for Yzerman the Red Wings
TW: Let’s close this out. Devin, the Red Wings should draft Savoie over Lambert because…
DL: Savoie is easily a top-10 prospect in this class, and I would argue he’s closer to the fifth-best prospect than the 10th-best. The Red Wings don’t have a player in their system like him. If they draft him, they will have drafted a player that could easily be their best forward by the time they’re a Stanley Cup contender.
TW: As for Lambert, he should be chosen over Savoie because his combination of speed, elusiveness, transition play, vision, and hockey IQ are unmatched in this draft class. The perception of Lambert will allow him to fall to the Red Wings. But in my opinion, the concerns about the forward that are driving his perception are mostly unwarranted. Lambert will immediately become Detroit’s top prospect and will give the Red Wings a dynamic offensive force who will thrive as an NHL center.
Who should the Red Wings draft – Matthew Savoie or Brad Lambert? Comment below!
Tony Wolak is based in the Washington D.C. area and covers the Detroit Red Wings for THW. As a former junior and college hockey player, Tony has a unique perspective on Red Wings topics.