Detroit Red Wings select Axel Sandin Pellikka with No. 17 pick in 2023 NHL draft

Detroit Free Press

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Detroit Red Wings used their second first-round pick on a Swedish defenseman.

Axel Sandin Pellikka was taken at No. 17 overall on Wednesday, the first night of the NHL draft.

“It’s an unbelievable feeling, a sigh of relief,” Sandin Pellikka said. “Just getting up to hug my parents, my siblings, it’s un incredible feeling. I’m so happy to be a part of the Detroit Red Wings.”

He is an offensive defenseman with the skill set to run a power play. His playmaking, vision, shot and mobility make him an attractive package. Sandin Pellikka (5-foot-11, 180-pounds) spent part of the 2022-23 season with Skellefteå AIK in the Swedish Hockey League, recording five points and a plus-two rating in 22 games. His five points were the most of any defenseman 18 years of age or younger in Sweden’s highest professional league.

Additionally, Sandin Pellikka was named the best defenseman in Sweden’s top junior league after racking up 36 points, a plus-15 rating and 64 penalty minutes in 31 games with Skellefteå AIK’s under-20 team, along with one assist in two postseason appearances. He also contributed three points (2-1-3) in five playoff games with Skellefteå AIK’s under-18 squad.

“I think my game is going to fit,” Sandin Pellikka said. “I think that will come when I get to development camp and I get a better feel for how they play. But I like to play with confidence and have the puck as much as I can.”

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He shoots right, so he addressed the vacancy that opened when Steve Yzerman traded Filip Hronek at the deadline. It was, in fact, the pick the Wings got for Hronek that was used to draft Sandin Pellikka.

Sandin Pellikka said a “great talk with them at the combine,” left him thinking the Wings were definitely interested.

“Yzerman, he talked to me a lot. And also their Swedish scouts, I talked a lot to them, so I had a feeling when they were coming up to pick and I am very happy they picked me.”

Sandin Pellikka also played in the World Junior Championship and had one assist in seven games. He also helped Sweden win the silver in the World U-18 Championship, totaling 11 points (two goals) in seven games.

Earlier Wednesday, the Wings picked Nate Danielson with the ninth overall pick, adding a 6-2 center to their farm system.

Contact Helene St. James at Follow her on Twitter @helenestjames. Read more on the Detroit Red Wings and sign up for our Red Wings newsletter. Her latest book, “On the Clock: Behind the Scenes with the Detroit Red Wings at the NHL Draft,” is available from  Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Triumph Books. Personalized copies available via her e-mail.

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