Red Wings select center Danielson, defenseman Sandin Pellikka with first-round picks

Detroit News

Detroit – The Red Wings snagged two of the players they wanted Wednesday in Nashville.

They’re still waiting on other possibilities.

The Wings selected center Nate Danielson with the ninth pick overall Wednesday at the NHL Entry Draft at Bridgestone Arena, then came back later and picked defenseman Axel Sandin Pellikka with the 17th overall selection.

Danielson is a 6-foot-2, 185-pound forward who scored 33 goals and had 45 assists with Brandon in the Western Hockey League (WHL).

Danielson was linked to the Red Wings from early in the drafting process. A versatile player who is effective at both ends of the rink, Danielson took a major step forward this season in his development, and can be used in any situation.

“To be part of the Red Wings, I’m super excited,” said Danielson during the ESPN broadcast of the draft, adding his skating and well-rounded game are his strengths.

General manager Steve Yzerman was pleased to see Danielson available.

More: Red Wings may go west to draft Wheat Kings center Nate Danielson

“We like the fact he’s a big, strong, two-way center and play in all situations,” said Yzerman to ESPN. “He’s a valuable player to have on your team and organization.”

Sandin Pellikka (5-foot-11, 180-pounds) is considered to be one of the best skaters in this draft class among defensemen, and one of the best offensive defensemen.

An elite puck-mover and passer, Sandin Pellikka is dangerous with the puck on his stick and is dangerous on the rush.

“It’s an unbelievable feeling,” said Sandin Pellikka to ESPN upon getting drafted. “I had a great feeling when they were coming up to the pick (he’d be selected) and I was happy they picked me. I have a great feeling about the organization and I’m excited to join them.”

While the Wings were busy in the draft, they were quiet on the trade front.

The Wings have been linked to several goal-scorers, as Yzerman searches for offense on the goal-starved roster but Wednesday weren’t able to complete a trade.

A potential target is Farmington Hills native Alex DeBrincat, who is expected to be dealt by the Ottawa Senators after telling the Senators he will not signing a long-term contract.

A restricted free agent, DeBrincat has a $9 million qualifying offer but the organization filed for team arbitration, likely lowering that money figure while also keeping other teams from potentially poaching DeBrincat with an offer sheet.

Senators general manager Pierre Dorion told reporters in Nashville before the draft began the organization isn’t close to a trade and has yet to grant DeBrincat’s representation an opportunity to discuss a contract with another team.

DeBrincat, 25, had 27 goals and 66 points with Ottawa last season, but twice scored 41 goals in Chicago, where he played the first five seasons of his career. DeBrincat has 187 goals in 450 career games, but is not regarded as an effective defensive player, as evidenced by his minus-31 plus-minus figure last season.

The Wings value DeBrincat’s offensive ability, but there are potential drawbacks. The defensive deficiencies thus far in his career, along with the fact DeBrincat is listed at only 5-foot-8, 178-pounds and doesn’t truly address the Wings’ desire after the season to play with more pushback.

Travis Konecny, 26, is another player that has been linked to the Wings in recent weeks.

Konecny missed 22 games last season with injuries, yet managed a career-high 31 goals and 61 points (30 assists). Another smaller player (5-foot-10, 175-pounds), Konecny scored 24 goals three consecutive seasons from 2017-20, and plays with the grit the Wings are searching for.

Konecny is signed for another two seasons at a $5.5 million salary cap hit.

Talking to media last week before the draft, Yzerman talked about the balance of finding a veteran who is in the age 18-27 bracket he’d like to acquire, while not subtracting from the Wings’ core.

“It doesn’t make sense to acquire a player, give up pieces that we need to build the core, and in three or four years that player is retired or moved on, and we still don’t have that core in place,” Yzerman said. “So I try to balance the two and we weigh, ‘Is it a young player? Does he fit into the timeline for us? What’s the cost to acquire him? And then what’s the cost to sign him?’ It all goes into that.”

The Wings have eight picks currently on Thursday, the second and final day of the Entry Draft. They have three consecutive picks in the second round (No. 41 (own), No. 42 (from St. Louis) and No. 43 (from Vancouver), as well as picks in the third- (73), fourth- (117), fifth- (137), sixth- (169) and seventh-round (201).

Those picks could be pieces the Wings can make deals with.

“It does give you options for sure,” Yzerman said. ““They’re all some form of currency, whether you’re using them to move up in the draft, back in the draft, acquire more picks, or acquire players. You know, in the position we’re in, it’s nice to have a lot of draft picks.”

Meet the newest Red Wings

Nate Danielson

► Pick: No. 9 overall (Round 1)

► Position: Center

► Height/weight: 6-foot-2, 185- pounds

► Last season: Brandon (WHL), 68 games, 33 goals, 45 assists;

► Scouting report: A good, safe pick in that Danielson does a lot of things well, is versatile, but maybe doesn’t star in any real aspect. Is considered to have a good two-way game and has the frame that could translate to the NHL fairly quickly. Some scouts have questions as to how big of a ceiling Danielson has.

Axel Sandin Pellikka

► Pick: No. 17 overall (Round 1)

► Position: Defenseman

► Height/weight: 5-foot-11, 180- pounds

► Last season: Skelleftea AIK (Swedish Hockey League), 31 games, 16 goals, 20 assists.

► Scouting report: One of the best skaters in this draft class, Sandin Pellikka is one of those new age defensemen who is an electric puck mover and loves to join the rush. He loves the puck on his stick and knows what to do with it. His size is a concern, he needs to get stronger, and work on his defensive game.

NHL Entry Draft

When: Thursday (Rounds 2-7) at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville

TV: Thursday —11 a.m., NHL Network

Red Wings:  The Wings select 41, 42, 43 (all in 2nd round), 73 (3rd round), 117 (4th round), 137 (5th round), 169 (6th round), 201 (7th round).

ted.kulfan@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @tkulfan

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