Detroit received higher grades for drafting Swedish defenseman Axel Sandin Pellikka with the 17th overall pick than Brandon center Nate Danielson with the ninth overall selection.
Here’s a sample of what they were saying about GM Steve Yzerman’s choices on Wednesday in Nashville.
Nate Danielson (B+)
The Red Wings’ top need was a center. They get a responsible one in Nate Danielson. He’s an all-situation type of player who does everything well. He plays a smart, two-way game and is very efficient off the puck as well. He was viewed as the “safe” pick of this draft class, as he’s not too flashy offensively, but he’s versatile and is considered to be closer to NHL-ready than other prospects. It’s a good get for Detroit.
Axel Sandin Pellikka (A)
The Red Wings sure do love their Europeans. Detroit adds another Swedish prospect to its club by selecting Axel Sandin Pellikka. Some regarded him as the best defensemen in the class, but he is surely the most skilled player on the back end. He’s mobile, can generate offense and has the makings of a potential power play quarterback in the NHL. Between Simon Edvinsson, Mo Seider and now Sandin Pellikka, the Red Wings’ blue line is going to be lethal for years.
It never feels great to go against the wisdom of Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman, who has historically done well at the draft table. For me, this is too early for Danielson. He’s big, defends well and plays hard. But he is one of the older players in the draft, and his offensive abilities hover around average across the board. If I had to guess, his future is as a third-line center.
Sandin Pellikka (B)
I like the second of two Detroit first-round picks better than the one at ninth overall. Sandin Pellikka has weaknesses in his game. I worry about his ability to defend. Sometimes he tries too much and his performances comes in waves. But the Swede was the top defenseman on my board at the start of the draft and he could turn into a top-four offensive defenseman.
The Red Wings could have done better but got a good prospect in Danielson. He was captain this past season for the Wheat Kings in the WHL and had 78 points in 68 games. Danielson should be a well-rounded NHL center and Detroit is good spot for him. If Danielson can get to the NHL in a season or two, he could make for a good second-line center behind Dylan Larkin.
Sandin Pellikka (A-)
This is a great get for Steve Yzerman this late in the first round. You could argue Sandin Pellikka is the top defenseman in this draft class and there were a lot of mocks that had him going in the top-10. The Red Wings have a long history with Swedish players with Nicklas Lidstrom and Henrik Zetterberg to name a few. That isn’t to say ASP will turn into a Hall of Famer. Detroit has a few Swedish prospects already and a strong blue line. Sandin Pellikka could be a strong top-4 pairing defenseman down the line.
Much like Leonard, Nate Danielson’s biggest draw his his overall well-roundedness. Danielson has bite to his offense, but is most well known for his overall versatility and play driving. A very Steve Yzerman draft pick if we’ve ever seen one.
Sandin Pellikka (A-)
Axel Sandin Pellikka is the first offensive defenseman to be taken in this draft. While Pellikka is smaller than his other defensive counterparts, he may be the most talented from a pure skating and shooting perspective. Quite the pickup from the Red Wings here to snag a dynamic defenseman at this spot.
The Red Wings could have gone with a defenseman here, however, this is an absolute home run. Danielson is one of my favorite players in this class. He is a reliable player in any situation and Detroit now has a rather impressive group of centers for the future. A great selection for Steve Yzerman.
Sandin Pellikka (A)
The Red Wings do eventually come away with the right-shot defenseman they coveted. Many consider Sandin Pellikka the best blueliner in the 2023 NHL Draft. I’m not one of them, but Sandin Pellikka is still an incredible player with legitimate top-four potential.