Ranking the Detroit Red Wings’ Last 20 Draft Classes

The Hockey Writers

Over the last 20 NHL Drafts, the Detroit Red Wings have drafted numerous players. Some of these players have panned out for the organization while some of them have not been able to contribute to the team. How do the Red Wings’ last 20 draft classes stack up to each other?

Too Early to Tell

The drafts the Red Wings have had from 2019 to 2023 have seen the team take numerous high-end prospects that have the potential to make a difference and impact the organization at some point, but for the most part, it is too early to tell what these draft classes will amount to.

With the 2019 Draft, the Red Wings have seen two players make their NHL debuts in first-round pick Moritz Seider and sixth-round pick Elmer Soderblom. Seider has quickly left his mark on the team and has turned into one of the league’s top young defensemen and earned the Calder Trophy for Rookie of the Year in 2022. Soderblom was able to make the Red Wings roster out of training camp last season before being sent down to Grand Rapids of the American Hockey League (AHL) after 21 games with the Red Wings.

Moritz Seider Detroit Red Wings
Moritz Seider, Detroit Red Wings (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

While these two players are the headliners so far of this draft class, there are other prospects that could make their way to Detroit at some point. In a couple of years, this draft class should be able to be ranked but for now, it is a little early to throw into these rankings.

The same can be said about the 2020 and 2021 Drafts for the Red Wings, having had 2020 first-round pick Lucas Raymond make his NHL debut in the 2021-22 season and 2021 first-round pick Simon Edvinsson making his NHL debut in the 2022-23 season. Raymond has been cemented in the lineup for the last two seasons. Outside of Raymond though there has not been another player reach the NHL level from the 2020 class, but they have a few prospects that like the 2019 Draft, could make their way to Detroit in defenseman William Wallinder and forward Cross Hanas.

With the 2021 class, there are high hopes for numerous prospects to make an impact in the NHL, most notably with goaltender Sebastian Cossa (first-round pick) and forward Carter Mazur (third-round pick).

The 2022 draft class is another class that has seen one player make their NHL debut in first-round pick Marco Kasper debuting last season with the Red Wings. This class has a chance to be ranked fairly high with second-round pick Dmitry Buchelnikov and fourth-round pick Amadeus Lombardi looking like players that could be impactful on the NHL roster at some point in the near future.

For the 2023 Draft, this draft class will be monitored for a few years before being able to truly judge and rank due to the fact that many of these players are likely a few years away from making any true impact on the NHL roster.

#15 – 2015 Draft

The 2015 draft class was headlined by first-round pick Evgeny Svechnikov. As the number 17 ranked North American skater coming into the draft, there were high hopes that he would be an impactful player after tallying 32 goals in his draft year in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) with the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles.

Evgeny Svechnikov Grand Rapids Griffins Nelson Nogier Manitoba Moose
Evgeny Svechnikov, Grand Rapids Griffins (Jenae Anderson / The Hockey Writers)

When Svechnikov played his first professional season in the AHL in the 2016-17 season, those hopes heightened when he scored 20 goals for the Grand Rapids Griffins. But his offensive game never translated to the NHL level, where he totaled 41 games with the Red Wings over parts of four seasons (2016-17 to 2020-21) and tallied only 12 points on five goals and seven assists. The only other player from the 2015 class that played any games in the NHL with the Red Wings is fifth-round pick Chase Pearson, who appeared in three total games with the team in the 2021-22 season.

Overall, the 2015 draft class played in 44 games and totaled 12 points for the Red Wings organization.

#14 – 2006 Draft

The most notable player from the 2006 Draft was second-round pick Shawn Matthias. He never suited up for the Red Wings organization but was part of a 2007 trade with the Florida Panthers that brought the Red Wings forward Todd Bertuzzi.

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There were two players who played for the Red Wings, fellow second-round pick Cory Emmerton and sixth-round pick Jan Mursak. Leading up to the 2006 Draft, Emmerton was ranked as the number ten North American skater, thanks to a season where he tallied 90 points with the Kingston Frontenacs of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL). He played in parts of four seasons in the NHL with the Red Wings from 2010-2014 but spent most of his time in the organization in the AHL having played all but 139 games with the Griffins. In 139 games with the Red Wings, he totaled 21 points and is another player who was a highly-ranked draft prospect that did not pan out.

As a sixth-round pick, there are not a lot of expectations for a player to reach an NHL roster, but Mursak was able to do so having played in 46 games with the Red Wings from 2010-2013 tallying four total points, but is another player that spent most of his playing days in the AHL.

#13 – 2011 Draft

The 2011 Draft is another draft that saw a late-round pick make their way to the NHL but also saw a few of the early-round picks not pan out for the Red Wings. In total, four players from the draft class played for the Red Wings.

The player who had the highest expectations was second-round pick Tomas Jurco who was ranked the number 20 North American skater in the 2011 class after tallying 31 goals with the Saint Johns Sea Dogs in the QMJHL in the 2010-11 season. After spending two seasons with the Griffins, Jurco made the full-time shift to the NHL in the 2014-15 season and spent parts of four seasons in the Red Wings lineup. While given the opportunity to prove his worth, he was unable to touch the 20-point mark in any season with the team. He eventually got traded to the Chicago Blackhawks in February 2017 for a third-round pick in the 2017 Draft.

Three other players picked in this draft spent time with the Red Wings; Xavier Ouellet, Ryan Sproul and Alexey Marchenko. None of them were able to stick with the NHL lineup full-time, spending the majority of their time with Grand Rapids. Ouellet (second-round pick) spent parts of five seasons with the Red Wings, while Sproul (third-round pick) spent parts of two seasons in a Red Wings jersey.

The most accomplished player outside of Jurco was seventh-round pick Alexey Marchenko who was able to spend parts of four seasons from 2013-2017 with the Red Wings, playing in 110 games and tallying 19 points while manning the blue line for the team.

Overall, the 2011 class played in 438 games and totaled 24 goals, 64 assists and 88 points and was another class that was underwhelming.

#12 – 2007 Draft

When the Red Wings drafted defenseman Brendan Smith in the first round of the 2007 Draft, there were hopes within the organization that he could become a presence on the backend that could also bring impact to the offensive side of the ice as well. That did not end up being the case for Smith, as he spent parts of six seasons with the Red Wings from 2011-12 to 2016-17 and was only able to compile 67 total points while dressing in 291 games before being sent to the New York Rangers in February 2017 for two draft picks.

Brendan Smith, former Detroit Red Wings defenseman (Tom Turk/The Hockey Writers)

The only other player to spend time in a Red Wings jersey was forward Joakim Andersson. He was the fifth-ranked European skater of the 2007 Draft but slid to the third round. He spent five seasons with the Red Wings from 2011-12 to 2015-16, playing a career-high 68 games in the 2014-15 season but only compiled a total of 36 points in 205 games played with the team.

#11 – 2008 Draft

In the 2008 Draft, the Red Wings decided to take a swing at a goaltender in the first round, taking the number one-ranked North American goaltender, Thomas McCollum. This pick did not work out for the Red Wings long-term, as McCollum only played a total of three games in net for the Red Wings in his time with the organization that spanned from the 2009-10 to 2015-16 seasons and once again in the 2017-18 season.

The one player that was able to make an impact for the Red Wings was their fourth-round pick, Gustav Nyquist. Over the eight years that he spent with the Red Wings (2011-2019), he tallied 295 points, which included 125 goals in 481 games. Nyquist was one of the team’s best goal-scorers in his time in a Red Wings jersey, topping 20-plus goals twice before being traded in February 2019 to the San Jose Sharks for two draft picks.

#10 – 2012 Draft

The 2012 Draft was another draft where the Red Wings took a shot at one of the top-ranked North American goaltenders, this time in the third round with the selection of Jake Paterson from the Saginaw Spirit of the OHL. He never suited up for the Red Wings, spending three seasons with the organization (2014-15 to 2016-17) between the AHL and ECHL.

Andreas Athanasiou - Red Wings
Andreas Athanasiou, Detroit Red Wings (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Meanwhile, second-round pick Martin Frk and fourth-round pick Andreas Athanasiou both ended up spending time with the Red Wings. Frk, most known for his hard shot, was never truly able to translate that shot into goals in the NHL, scoring a total of only 12 goals in 98 games played in the 2017-18 and 2018-19 seasons. On the flip side, Athanasiou, who is known for his speed and offensive skill, was able to play parts of five seasons with the Red Wings from the 2015-16 season up to the 2019-20 season before he got traded to the Edmonton Oilers in February 2020 for Sam Gagner and a 2021 second-round draft pick. He was able to top the 30-goal mark in the 2018-19 season for the Red Wings and made numerous highlight-reel plays thanks to his speed and stick-handling ability and was a fan favorite in his time in Detroit.

#9 – 2017 Draft

The first draft class that can possibly be ranked higher down the line for the Red Wings is the 2017 class. While there have only been two players making their NHL debuts with the Red Wings and one of them still being with the organization, Michael Rasmussen has a chance to make the jump that many are hoping for and make the 2017 Draft a successful one for the team.

Rasmussen, who was the fifth-ranked North American in the draft, was selected by the Red Wings as the ninth overall pick. Touted as a big-bodied forward standing at 6-foot-6 with skill in the offensive zone, there has been a continued hope that he will be able to translate his success in the junior ranks to the NHL level. Since making his NHL debut in the 2018-19 season, that translation has slowly continued to happen as he worked his way to a career-high 15 goals in the 2021-22 season. He seemed poised to topple that number last season before falling to injury and only playing 56 games while still tallying 10 goals. Heading into this season, there are high expectations that Rasmussen will become more of a vital cog in the offensive end for the Red Wings lineup. To date, he has tallied 36 goals and 50 assists in 238 games.

The other player to reach the NHL while in the Detroit organization is second-round pick Gustav Lindstrom. He did not have the same impact that Rasmussen has had in the lineup, having played in 128 games as a Red Wing, tallying only 25 points before being traded this offseason to the Montreal Canadiens for fellow defenseman Jeff Petry.

#8 – 2018 Draft

Another draft class that can possibly be higher in the rankings in a couple of years, the 2018 class has two players whom this class hinges on in Joe Veleno and Jonatan Berggren.

The Red Wings first-round pick was spent on forward Filip Zadina with the eighth pick. He came to the organization with high expectations as the number three ranked North American skater in the draft. The hope for him was that he could use his shot to become a top-tier goal-scorer for the team but it never materialized in the five seasons that he spent with the Red Wings (2018-19 to 2022-23). He was only able to top 10 goals once and had a total of 28 goals in 190 games with the team.

Filip Zadina Detroit Red Wings
Filip Zadina, Detroit Red Wings (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

With the first-round pick acquired in the trade of Tomas Tatar to the Vegas Golden Knights, the Red Wings took forward Joe Veleno. He has been with the NHL club since the 2020-21 season but has yet to live up to the lofty expectations that have been placed upon him since being drafted. He was given exceptional status to play in the QMJHL and in his post-draft year tallied 104 points on 42 goals with the Drummondville Voltigeurs, but has yet to translate that high-end offensive output with the Red Wings. In 152 games, he has only tallied 36 points on 18 goals. He is entering what many believe to be a make-or-break season.

With one of their two second-round picks, the Red Wings took highly-touted defenseman Jared McIsaac. He has battled injuries throughout his time in professional hockey and has not been able to crack the NHL roster to date after the organization had high hopes for him since taking him. With their other second-round pick, they took Jonatan Berggren who made his NHL debut last season and is seen as a player who could become one of the building blocks for the future if his development continues on the track that it has been since being drafted.

#7 – 2016 Draft

The 2016 Draft saw the Red Wings pick three players who ended up playing at least 50 games with the team in Dennis Cholowski (first-round pick), Givani Smith (second-round pick) and Filip Hronek (second-round pick).

The Red Wings picked Cholowski in the first round with hopes of being one of the building blocks for years to come on the back end of the ice, but that ended up not being the case. He was unable to play consistently at a level that the organization had hoped for in his three seasons in the NHL spanning from the 2018-19 season until the end of the 2020-21 season. Throughout his time in Detroit, Cholowski spent time going back and forth between the NHL and AHL. He was left as an unprotected player heading into the expansion draft for the Seattle Kraken and the Kraken took him in the draft. Overall, he dressed in 104 games for the Red Wings, tallying 27 points.

Dennis Cholowski Detroit Red Wings
Dennis Cholowski, Detroit Red Wings (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

As a second-round pick, Smith was seen as a player who could bring a mix of grit and skill to a lineup and the hope was for that to translate into an NHL career. In the 2016-17 season with the Guelph Storm, he scored 26 goals while also compiling 139 penalty minutes. He made his NHL debut during the 2019-20 season with the Red Wings and was another player who bounced back and forth between the NHL and AHL like Cholowski and was unable to fully live up to the expectations bestowed upon him by the organization before being traded to the Florida Panthers during the 2022-23 season.

The one player who makes this draft class rank as high as it is is Hronek. He spent parts of five seasons with the Red Wings spanning from the 2018-19 season until he was traded to the Vancouver Canucks in 2023 for a 2023 first-round pick which helped the Red Wings select defenseman Axel Sandin Pellikka.

During his time with the Red Wings, Hronek worked his way into being one of the team’s top defensemen while on a struggling Red Wings team. In 305 games, he scored a total of 30 goals, and 126 assists for 156 points.

#6 – 2009 Draft

After coming off a 2008-09 season where the Red Wings had made it to their second consecutive Stanley Cup Final, they were able to draft a few players in the 2009 Draft that made an impact on their organization.

While second-round pick Landon Ferraro, third-round pick Andrej Nastrasil and sixth-round pick Mitch Callahan did not factor much into the Red Wings’ success, their other second-round pick Tomas Tatar and third-round pick Nick Jensen were able to impact the lineup.

Tomas Tatar Red Wings
Tomas Tatar, Detroit Red Wings, December 20, 2017 (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Tatar, who was ranked as the 14th best European in the 2009 Draft, spent parts of seven seasons with the Red Wings (2010-11 to 2016-17) and became a fan favorite. His skill set and durability were able to stick out throughout his time with the team, leading to him playing all 82 games three times in a row while topping 20-plus goals in each of those seasons (2014-15 to 2016-17). While he played an important role on a rebuilding Red Wings team, he also played an important role as a veteran leader for the younger players before being traded to the Golden Knights in February 2018 for three draft picks. In his time with the Red Wings, he dressed in 407 regular season games and totaled 115 goals and 107 assists for 222 total points.

Third-round pick defenseman Nick Jensen is another success from the 2009 Draft. While playing only parts of three seasons with the Red Wings and not being as much of a point producer as Tatar was, he became one of the team’s top defensemen before being traded to the Washington Capitals in February 2019.

#5 – 2004 Draft

Even though the 2004 class had only one player make their way to the NHL, the impact felt by that player was enough to rank the class in the top-five for the last 20 drafts in third-round pick Johan Franzen.

Franzen made his NHL debut during the 2005-06 season and ended up being a major success with the organization before having his career cut short due to concussion problems. He holds numerous Red Wings playoff records, including the most game-winning goals in a single postseason with five in 2008 and the most points in a playoff game with six in 2010.

His best offensive season was in 2008-09 where he totaled 34 goals in the regular season and helped lead the Red Wings to their second consecutive Stanley Cup Final before falling to the Pittsburgh Penguins. In 23 playoff games, Franzen tallied 23 points. Following the season, the organization faced a dilemma when they had to determine if they would sign him or Marian Hossa to a long-term deal and decided to go with Franzen, signing him to an 11-year extension.

He stayed healthy for four more full seasons before only playing two games from the 2015-16 season to the time his contract expired in 2020 due to lingering concussion symptoms.

#4 – 2010 Draft

The 2010 Draft is one draft that the Red Wings selection of a goaltender panned out for the organization, along with adding a couple of players that spent time in the NHL as well.

Starting with the goaltender that the team took in the fifth round, Petr Mrazek entered the 2010 Draft as the 25th-ranked North American goalie and ended up being a steal of sorts for the organization. His unorthodox style in net reminded fans of Dominik Hasek at times. He spent parts of six seasons with the team after making his NHL debut during the 2012-13 season. As a Red Wing, he had a 72-58-20 record, with a 2.60 goals-against average (GAA) and posted 13 shutouts, headlined by his 2015-16 season where he tallied 27 wins with a 2.33 GAA and four shutouts (eighth most in the NHL). Mrazek was traded to the Philadelphia Flyers in February 2018 for two conditional draft picks.

The two non-goaltender players that spent time with the Red Wings are first-round pick Riley Sheahan and fourth-round pick Teemu Pulkkinen, but neither player left as big of a mark on the organization as Mrazek did. Sheahan is most notably known as being the last player to score a goal at Joe Louis Arena in 2017. In his time in Detroit, he totaled 98 points in 292 games played. Pulkkinen was not a major success for the Red Wings after breaking the 30-goal mark in both of his first two professional seasons with Grand Rapids (2013-14 and 2014-15), only scoring 11 goals in 70 games as a Red Wing.

#3 -2013 Draft

The 2013 Draft saw only two players spend time in the NHL with the organization but also had a major impact on the team. Both of these players were selected in the first two rounds of the draft, with the team selecting forward Anthony Mantha in the first and Tyler Bertuzzi in the second.

After a 2012-13 season in the QMJHL totaling 50 goals in 67 games, Mantha found himself as the 10th-ranked North American skater in the 2013 Draft and was selected by the Red Wings with the 20th pick in the first round. After another successful season in the QMJHL in the 2013-14 season (120 points), he made the jump to the AHL and spent two seasons in Grand Rapids before making his NHL debut in March 2016. There were hopes that he could translate his mix of offensive skill and physicality (6-foot-5) to the NHL level and he was able to do so in the early stages of his career, breaking the 20-goal mark in back-to-back seasons in 2017-18 and 2018-19. But injuries and the lack of further development hampered his time and production leading to Mantha being traded to the Washington Capitals in April 2012 after parts of six seasons with the Red Wings.

Related: Red Wings’ Massive Mirco Mueller Trade Tree Grows Larger with Deadline Deals

Bertuzzi was another player that the team had hopes of translating his physical play and offensive skill set to the NHL level as well, although not being known as a high-volume scorer like Mantha was in junior hockey. Bertuzzi played parts of seven seasons with the Red Wings after three seasons in Grand Rapids from the 2014-15 season up to the 2016-17 season.

He displayed his grit and offensive touch in the seven seasons in a Red Wings jersey, tallying a total of 88 goals and 114 assists for 202 total points and 189 penalty minutes in 305 regular season games played. Like Mantha, injuries also hampered Bertuzzi’s production while with the Red Wings. He also was an All-Star for the Red Wings in 2020 before eventually being traded in March 2023 to the Boston Bruins for a conditional first-round pick and a fifth-round pick in the 2025 Draft.

#2 – 2014 Draft

In back-to-back drafts, the Red Wings were able to add impactful players to their organization, but in the 2014 Draft only added one player, albeit a massive piece to the future of the organization in Dylan Larkin.

Leading up to the draft, Larkin was ranked the 17th-best North American skater after a solid two seasons with the US National Developmental Program and one season at the University of Michigan. The Red Wings took him at pick number 15 and he quickly made an impact on the team, making the jump to the NHL in the 2015-16 season and finishing fifth in Calder Trophy voting after putting up a total of 45 points in his rookie season.

Dylan Larkin Detroit Red Wings
Dylan Larkin, Detroit Red Wings (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Larkin was named the Red Wings’ captain in January 2021 and has been one of their most consistent and productive players in his time with Detroit. His 584 games played ranks him fifth among his fellow draftmates from the 2014 Draft, with 179 goals (fifth), 258 assists (third), and 437 points (fifth).

The only other player from the 2014 class that played significant time with the team is fourth-round pick Christoffer Ehn, who played parts of the 2018-19 and 2019-20 seasons with the Red Wings, appearing in 114 games and recording a total of 13 points.

#1 – 2005 Draft

The 2005 Draft saw the Red Wings select four players that played collectively over 1,700 games in a winged-wheel jersey. Included in this draft were Jakub Kindl, Justin Abdelkader, Mattias Ritola and Darren Helm.

Kindl was the Red Wings’ first-round pick of the draft and was at one point considered the team’s top defensive prospect after two solid seasons in Grand Rapids, topping the 30-point mark in back-to-back seasons in 2008-09 and 2009-10. He made his NHL debut in the 2009-10 season with the Red Wings and spent parts of seven seasons as a Red Wing.

There were hopes that Kindl could be a top-two defenseman for the team once he made the jump to the NHL due to his offensive prowess and smooth skating, but was never able to take over a full-time spot in the Red Wings lineup. Over the seven years he spent in Detroit, he dressed in 273 games, tallying 68 points.

Ritola was the team’s fourth-round pick and spent most of his time in Grand Rapids, only suiting up for seven games as a Red Wing and tallying a single assist.

Where this class becomes the best the team has had out of the last 20 is in the picks of Abdelkader and Helm. Abdelkader was a second-round pick by the Red Wings after a solid season with Cedar Rapids of the United States Hockey League (USHL). He quickly made an impact in the organization, playing his first full professional season with Grand Rapids in the 2007-08 season, and brought a sense of grit and skill to the team, recording 102 penalty minutes while also tallying 52 points.

He made the jump to a full-time NHL player in the 2010-11 season with the Red Wings and spent ten seasons with the team. The Muskegon native became a fan favorite in short order due to being both a Michigan kid and the fact that he played with an edge and could be relied on to make a play in the offensive zone when needed. Abdelkader played in 739 games with the Red Wings over a total of 13 seasons, totaling 252 points in the process.

With Helm, the Red Wings found a steal in the fifth round. He was a player that played with an edge and had grit like Abdelkader, known as a pest for opposing teams and an energizer on the penalty kill. Throughout his time in Detroit, Helm suited up in 744 regular season games over 14 seasons that spanned from the 2007-08 season up to the time he departed after the 2020-21 season as a free agent. In those 744 games, he tallied 251 total points.

While this draft class did not put up a ton of points, it had picks that became long-tenured players who played major roles in the success that the Red Wings had during their playing days in Detroit. They also are players that eventually turned into mentors to the younger players in their later years in the Red Wings organization.

Overall the Red Wings have not necessarily had the best success in the last 20 drafts, but have been able to find gems in the later rounds. The drafts of the past few years could easily find themselves ranked toward the top of this list if the development and advancement of those players go as hoped and expected.

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