5 Red Wings’ First-Round Targets in 2024 NHL Entry Draft

The Hockey Writers

While the NHL Draft is still a few months away (June 28), it is never too early to take a look at a few players that could pique the interest of Detroit Red Wings fans to consider as the season treks on. As of Jan.15, the team is slotted to pick at the number 18 spot, which will fluctuate by the season’s end. So, who could general manager (GM) Steve Yzerman and the rest of the organization possibly target at pick 18 of the first round?

RW Ryder Ritchie- Prince Albert Raiders (WHL)

After winning the Western Hockey League’s (WHL) Rookie of the Year award for the 2022-23 season, Ryder Ritchie was considered a potential top-10 pick heading into the 2023-24 season. While he has not produced to that potential this season, he has put up a solid enough season in the WHL he could be a solid option for the Red Wings’ first-round selection. Ritchie has been able to do this largely thanks to his quickness with the puck and being a natural goal-scorer.

Ryder Ritchie Prince Albert Raiders
Ryder Ritchie, Prince Albert Raiders (Mark Peterson/Prince Albert Raiders)

Part of why he has fallen down the rankings this season is because he has been out of action for the Prince Albert Raiders since Dec.15 with a lower-body injury and has been limited to only 34 games this season to date. Even while being held to the 34 games, Ritchie had been able to showcase his strong shot that he has no problem using, tallying 13 goals before the injury. His offensive skillset could very easily remind Red Wings fans of Lucas Raymond’s play.

One of the downfalls of Ritchie’s game is his off-puck play, which can use some work. But if he can both work on this aspect of his game and get healthy and rolling once again offensively, he could find himself moving up team draft boards and the rankings by year’s end. He is currently ranked as the 16th-best North American skater by the NHL Central Scouting’s Mid-Term rankings.

RW/LW Nikita Artamonov- Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod (KHL)

As a player who would be a longer-term “prospect” and project due to a Kontinential Hockey League (KHL) contract that will keep him there through the 2025-26 season, Nikita Artamonov is an intriguing prospect for fans to keep an eye on that could be available when the Red Wings head to the podium in June.

Artamonov is an intriguing prospect because he is a 17-year-old player playing in Russia’s top professional league and has done more than an adequate job hanging in with players who are older and more experienced than he is. Even with his age, he has been able to play top-six minutes for the Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod organization this season while also spending time on the team’s power play unit. What stands out in his game that would make the Red Wings take a hard look at him is his strong playmaking ability and his skating, which have helped combat playing against the more seasoned players he has faced this season.

Artamonov is a player who can generate offense for himself and his teammates, whether he has the puck or not in the offensive zone, and has plenty of time to continue to develop his game. His play this season in the KHL has rivaled that of Vladimir Tarasanko and Philadelphia Flyers prospect Matvei Michkov for players in their draft-eligible seasons. If the Red Wings are content with having to wait a few seasons to get a player that very well could be a top-six guy in their lineup, which they could be thanks to a deep prospect pool, then Artamonov could be a player that they take a hard look at… if he is available when they pick.

LW Igor Chernyshov- Dynamo Moskava (KHL)

Another player who could end up being a prospect that would be a longer-term “project” for the Red Wings, Igor Chernyshov, is another prospect in this year’s draft who has spent time in the KHL this season but has spent most of his time in the MHL, Russia’s top junior league. He ranks a little higher than Artamonov in the NHL Central Scouting Mid-Term rankings (number nine European skater) and has a little bit of a different style of game as well.

Related: 2024 NHL Draft Rankings – Horn’s Top 100 for February

A skilled forward, Chernyshov is also a player known to throw his body around and get into the physical play, sitting at 6-foot-2 and 192 pounds. With the type of skilled players that the Red Wings have, Yzerman has looked to add some size and physicality to the roster to help balance everything out. Adding a player with a mix of offensive skills and the capability of holding his own on the ice would go a long way for the organization. His offensive skills consist of strong playmaking abilities mixed in with smooth skating and an increasing ability to showcase a strong shot. If Chernyshov can continue to develop his game away from the puck along with his defensive game, he could find himself carving out a top-six role at either the center or winger position with the way that he plays.

D Adam Jiricek- HC Plzen (Czechia)

The deepest position that the Red Wings have in their farm system is most likely at the defenseman position, but if Yzerman was given a chance to take a player that was once considered a sure-fire top-10 pick in the 2024 Draft, he might find it hard to pass up. That is exactly what Adam Jiricek could end up being come the end of June. One of the main reasons the younger brother of Columbus Blue Jackets prospect David Jiricek would possibly be available come the Red Wings pick is that he sustained a season-ending knee injury at this year’s World Junior Championships.

While his offensive numbers were down before his injury (one point on the season), Jiricek is considered one of this draft class’s best two-way defensemen, having strong footwork to go along with being solid in his end of the ice. He does not possess a standout shot from the point but is also a solid offensive zone player. While being 6-foot-2, he does need to add some weight and muscle to his frame as he is sitting at just under 170 pounds.

Suppose Jiricek is available when the Red Wings make their selection in the first round, and Yzerman believes that he can end up being the top two/three defenseman that many others believe he can be. In that case, he may take the chance on Jiricek.

C Sacha Boisvert- Muskegon Lumberjacks (USHL)

If the Red Wings are looking for a skilled center who possesses some flashiness to their game, they may not have to leave the state of Michigan to do so with Sacha Boisvert. Boisvert is in the midst of his second season with the Muskegon Lumberjacks of the United States Hockey League (USHL) and has had plenty of highlight reel plays to his account, as well as being one of the best offensive players in the league.

Sacha Boisvert Muskegon Lumberjacks
Sacha Boisvert, Muskegon Lumberjacks ( Jenae Anderson / The Hockey Writers)

Boisvert’s offensive game has been on display this season with the Lumberjacks as he has found himself in the top 10 league-wide in points and top-three in goals as of this writing. While being considered a “raw” talent, he has been able to showcase his strong shot and skill set again this season in the USHL, which has also translated to a ton of success on the power play for Boisvert. While being on the smaller side weight-wise at 176 pounds, he does use his body quite a bit but could benefit from some added muscle and weight to his 6-foot-2 frame.

As a center, his faceoff numbers are not the greatest as of now, but it is something that, with more time and development, could end up becoming yet another asset to his game. He will have plenty of time to develop his game, as the current plan for Boisvert is to play the 2024-25 season in juniors once again and is committed to the University of North Dakota for the 2025-26 season. As a player who is viewed as having a sky-high upside to his game, he could find himself gone by the time the Red Wings are on the clock, but he could be in play if available.

Plenty of Time and Plenty to Think About

While still a few months away, there are several players for Yzerman and his staff of scouts to take a long, hard look at for the draft. Players will continue to rise and fall on the draft boards, but these five players are all decent options for the Red Wings to possibly consider in June.

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