Detroit Red Wings and the value of maintaining draft capital

Octopus Thrower

Lately, it seems like the Detroit Red Wings’ fearless leader Steve Yzerman has been in the crosshairs of the fanbase. The term coined “The Yzerplan” was easy to support over the last few years, but now some fans have been willing to flip the script and light the torches.

That’s a debate for another time since all will be right in the world when Dylan Larkin gets his extension and the Detroit Red Wings fans can relax a bit. But, as trade deadline season begins to inch closer, a bunch of names are bound to get thrown around.

Even though the Red Wings are not as quickly labeled sellers as in years past, Yzerman is likely to pull the string on a couple of deals to invest in things down the line. One of the things that Yzerman has always done with the Red Wings is stockpiling draft capital.

Detroit Red Wings stockpiling draft capital is key for the future.

This got me thinking, and one quick look at the team’s hockey reference shows you how important it is to have draft capital. While having three fifth-round picks is not as crucial, stockpiling the first three-to-four rounds of the draft with picks will always work out well for the organization.

It seems like common sense, but it really puts things in perspective when you look at the makeup of the Red Wings roster. There are 23 players listed on the Hockey-Reference roster section for the Red Wings.

All but two were former draft picks, not just from the Red Wings,  but only two were undrafted free agents. Eight of them were selected by the Red Wings and are home-grown talents. But the thing that caught my eye is that 14 of the players on the Red Wings roster were selected in the top two rounds of the draft in their respective years. All but three (including the two UDFAs) were drafted in the top-four rounds of the draft.

While the Red Wings have made signings, pursued players on the waiver wire, and even procured trades to acquire the players they have now, the top-two rounds of the draft are truly what fuels the next step of the game.

It may seem like a trivial observation, but the number of players from the first or second round really seemed high. We all know around draft time, there’s a third or fourth-rounder that gets labeled the steal of the draft.

Heck, even I’m at fault for getting overexcited by some of the late-round picks. I thought Carter Gylander was going to be the team’s next great goalie. This seventh-rounder was crazy good in the Alberta Junior Hockey League a few years ago, he’s yet to make waves, and first-rounder Sebastian Cossa is getting all the attention.

The point is there’s a value in draft capital that makes trades easier to swallow. Maintaining a good amount of draft capital, especially in those top two rounds, will only help this team move forward.

Even if some of those players are traded for more picks or upgrades down the line, building through a successful draft is only going to help the Red Wings move in the right direction. Just keep this all in mind as trade deadline season comes into focus.

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