4 Red Wings’ First-Round Targets in the 2024 NHL Draft

The Hockey Writers

Close, but no cigar. The 2023-24 NHL regular season has come to a close, and the playoffs are about to get underway. The Detroit Red Wings are on the outside looking in – for the eighth straight year – after falling just short on their postseason push. Front office executives will now shift their focus to the upcoming draft in Las Vegas. Barring a miracle in the lottery, Detroit will be making their first selection at pick 15 and will have a wide range of prospects to choose from. General manager Steve Yzerman will have his work cut out for him as he continues to accumulate high-end talent for a team that is still looking to find its identity. Many insiders consider this draft to be relatively deep, especially from a defensive standpoint, something that could play right into Yzerman’s hands as he heads to the podium on June 28th.

Liam Greentree Windsor Spitfires
Windsor Spitfires’ captain, Liam Greentree (David Jewell / The Hockey Writers)

The team currently owns one of the best defensive prospect pools in all of hockey, and many fans would like to see some size added up front for a club that struggled on the ice in the physical department this past season. Captain Dylan Larkin and emerging star forward Lucas Raymond did take some shots this year, so the team would like to add some grit up front. A big, tough forward with some type of scoring prowess is just what Detroit needs, and there will be some interesting options for Yzerman to choose from when he gets to Sin City. The hardest part, though, is picking the right one. Here are four prospects that could be available to the Red Wings at pick number 15. They could look nice wearing the winged wheel.

Michael Brandsegg-Nygard – RW – Mora IK (HockeyAllsvenskan)

The 18-year-old Norwegian has been skyrocketing up draft boards since the start of the 2023-24 HockeyAllsvenskan season. While his overall numbers won’t blow scouts away – 18 points in 41 games with Mora IK – his performance at this year’s World Juniors showed clubs that he has what it takes to succeed at the next level, as he was by far and away Norway’s best player. His high-end motor skills and work ethic have many teams predicting that he’s not that far away from seeing his name on an NHL roster.

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The 6-foot-1, 198-pound forward projects to be a dependable two-way player with a 200-foot game and has that grit that Detroit has lacked. He won’t back down from physical play and could be a strong asset for a team that struggled on the forecheck. Brandsegg-Nygard also excels at tracking down loose pucks in the offensive zone, and his hockey IQ seems to be well above average. His offensive game won’t leave the Red Wings wanting if he pans out, and he could see playing time in the Motor City as early as the 2025-26 season. I think his pro-level frame, as well as his professional character, will have him go somewhere between picks 10-20.

Liam Greentree – LW – Windsor Spitfires (OHL)

I would have to believe the Red Wings scouting department has a pretty good take on Greentree’s game by now, as he plays just 20 minutes away from Little Caesars Arena on the other side of the Windsor tunnel. His game is similar to Brandsegg-Nygard’s, but Greentree’s offensive ceiling may be a bit higher. The 6-foot-2, 198-pound forward posted 90 points in 64 games for the Spitfires – a team that struggled offensively for the majority of the season – which was good for 12th in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) and ranks second among players under 18 years old.

The Oshawa, Ontario, native doesn’t possess one elite trait, but his overall offensive game has shown that he could succeed at the NHL level. Greentree blends skill with strength and his knack for battling for loose pucks will endear him to many teams that draft in the top 20. His skating could be a cause for concern for some clubs, but his high-end motor and work ethic may help him improve in that department over the next few seasons. Sound familiar? Greentree’s production is hard to deny, and he should hear his name called early on draft day.

Tij Iginla – LW – Kelowna Rockets (WHL)

His last name alone should intrigue just about everyone in hockey, but let me tell you – it should. The son of Hall-of-Famer Jarome Iginla will be near the top of most team’s draft boards this summer. The 17-year-old has an eerily similar skillset to his father and posted 47 goals in 64 games to go along with 37 assists for the Rockets this season. The 6-foot, 180-pound forward plays a strong, disciplined game like his dad but has also shown a more unique, creative side in the offensive zone this season. His stick-handling skills are high-end – something the elder Iginla was not known for. He also possesses a hard and heavy shot while displaying a hockey IQ that is off the charts.

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“Iginla is a talented and dynamic winger (can also play center) who has been an offensive-impact player for the Rockets from the start of the season. Skating is an NHL asset with speed that puts defenders on their heels. He is strong and hungry on the puck and has an effective game along the boards and corners when battling for pucks. Provides a consistent offensive output as a creative playmaker and natural goal scorer who has that shoot-first mentality and possesses an excellent finishing shot with a very good release.” – NHL Central Scouting. I don’t think Iginla makes it to Detroit at 15 but I’ve seen stranger things happen. He could be the kind of player you move up for.

Igor Chernyshov – RW – MHK Dynamo Moskva (MHL)

Chernyshov is a physical specimen at 18 years old. This season, the 6-foot-2, 192-pound winger spent time between the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) and the Molodyozhnaya Hokkeinaya League (MHL). Quite impressive for an 18-year-old. He has a wicked shot and likes to set up shots on top of the left circle for one-timers – looking somewhat similar to a familiar face on the Washington Capitals who favors the same. I’m not comparing him to Alex Ovechkin just yet, but the kid has a wicked release for someone at that age. He’s not afraid to use his size to ward off defenders when battling for loose pucks.

It remains to be seen if his offensive skillset will translate to the pros, but boy, does it look enticing. His quick hands allow him to maneuver in tight spaces with the puck before he lets go a quick release. With his size and strength, he should be considered one of the most NHL-ready players available at the 2024 Draft. One of the scariest parts is that he’s still growing, leaving him to be a very intriguing option for team picks in the 10-20 range. This is the kind of player you roll the dice on – especially when you’re in Vegas.

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“Chernyshov plays a very direct style, charging the net frequently whether he has the puck or not. He has had a rather slow start to this year production-wise, but his skill set looks well designed for the pro game with the ability to make strong plays and smart decisions at a higher pace than most teenagers.” – Logan Horn, THW.

Conclusion

The club will pick a high-end prospect in June, a player Yzerman hopes will be a key component for the team as they start a new era of Red Wings hockey in Motor City. There’s a lot of time between now and June 28th, but you can be sure the Hall of Famer will do his due diligence. The playoffs are on the horizon for this up-and-coming organization, and this year’s draft could have boom or bust potential at the 15th pick. I know most fans hope that Yzerman will keep with tradition and nail his first-round selection once again.

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