What Can Red Wings Fans Expect From the 15th Overall Pick?

The Hockey Writers

The Detroit Red Wings will select 15th overall in the 2024 NHL Entry Draft. The draft lottery took place last week, and Detroit (big surprise) didn’t win the draft lottery. However, the positive thing is that they weren’t leap-frogged either, sticking with their most likely spot at 15. The San Jose Sharks were lucky enough to win the lottery, and will select first overall after one of the most abysmal NHL seasons we’ve seen in recent memory.

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

Here’s a look at the 10 most recent 15th overall picks to help Red Wings fans manage their expectations about who might be selected on June 28. Players at this spot are drafted for their skill and potential as well as how likely it is that they will maximize that potential. Some players on this list are hard to remember as prospects, but every 15th overall pick was selected with the hopes of them becoming an important player, though not a franchise-altering talent. 

Related: 2024 NHL Draft Guide

For each entry I will include a brief mention of a prospect in this year’s draft who has a similar style/projected impact that the Red Wings could be looking at when the draft rolls around in just over a month.

2023: Matthew Wood

Matthew Wood was a highly touted prospect coming out of Canada’s Junior A level (BCHL specifically), and he played in the NCAA with the University of Connecticut during his draft year. His production there was remarkable for a 17-year-old, and while it took a bit of a hit this past season, there’s reason to believe he can become a big, goal-scoring winger for the Nashville Predators.

Wood’s goal scoring increased last season, and I expect that will continue as he moves to the University of Minnesota for the 2024-25 season. He has the size to possibly make the jump to the NHL after this upcoming season, though his speed may not be quite up for it just yet. I think Wood should play at least one season in the AHL with the Milwaukee Admirals before joining the Predators.

2024 Option: Beckett Sennecke is a big winger who has great hands and a chance to be a top-six goal scorer. Honestly, he’s probably played his way out of the 15th overall range with a really strong playoffs but has a similar talent level to Wood in my eyes.

2022: Jonathan Lekkerimäki

Jonathan Lekkerimaki has had a fascinating development path since being drafted. He had dominated Sweden’s junior level and looked good in some professional play as well so the Canucks were ecstatic to land him at 15 after narrowly missing the playoffs. Lekkerimaki’s first season post-draft was a mess, with multiple injuries and a bout of mononucleosis seriously holding him back.

Some people were beginning to get nervous before he lit up the Allsvenskan playoffs in 2022-23 to finish the season. Lekkerimaki made the jump to the SHL this past season and looked like himself again, scoring 19 goals and 31 points, before being named MVP of the World Juniors and the best junior/rookie player in the SHL. Lekkerimaki looks like a strong pick in the middle of the first round.

2024 Option: Tij Iginla is another prospect who has likely played their way higher than Detroit, but Iginla’s shot and puck skill put him in a similar range to Lekkerimäki for me, though I think Iginla competes quite a bit harder off the puck.

2021: Sebastian Cossa

If you’re reading this article, chances are you already know about Sebastian Cossa, but I’ll give it a go anyway. Cossa was highly sought after in his draft year because of his fiery personality and massive frame, and the Detroit Red Wings decided to trade up in the first round to land someone they hoped could be their starting goalie of the future. 

Sebastian Cossa Detroit Red Wings
Sebastian Cossa, Detroit Red Wings (Photo by Melissa Tamez/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

His first post-draft season was a little shaky in the WHL, but he has since developed well at the pro level, putting up three consecutive seasons with a .913% save percentage (SV%) across the WHL, ECHL and AHL. As a 21 year old, Cossa was essentially an average starting goalie in the AHL which is a huge step in the right direction. If he sees another solid year of growth with the Grand Rapids Griffins, I expect Cossa to be knocking on Detroit’s door in 12 months’ time.

2024 Option: Nobody. There’s no goalie I’d even consider taking in the first round this year, though someone to keep an eye on, perhaps even as soon as the second round is Ilya Nabokov who is just barely eligible for the draft at age 21. Nabokov had a .930% save percentage in the KHL this season and a .942% in the KHL playoffs where he was named playoffs MVP.

2020: Rodion Amirov

Rodion Amirov was drafted for his work ethic, quick crossovers, and especially for his high-level hockey sense. He was clearly a cut above the junior competition in Russia during his draft season, and ended up playing more games in the KHL than the MHL.

In February of 2022, Amirov shared that he had been diagnosed with brain cancer and was receiving treatment in Germany where he planned to continue to work out and train throughout the process. He received chemotherapy treatments in Toronto in the Fall of 2022 and the Maple Leafs made him the guest of honor at their season opener. Unfortunately, Amirov lost his battle with cancer in the Summer of 2023, never getting the chance to play in the NHL.

2024 Option: Nikita Artamonov is a highly skilled and intelligent winger who earned a full-time KHL role in his draft year.

2019: Cole Caufield

Cole Caufield was a fascinating player in the 2019 Draft, with elite goal scoring tools and a diminutive 5-foot-7 frame. If Caufield was three or four inches taller, he could’ve been in the conversation for the top-five at least because he scored an absurd 101 goals in his draft season playing on Jack Hughes’ wing. 

Cole Caufield Montreal Canadiens
Cole Caufield, Montreal Canadiens (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Caufield was dominant in two NCAA seasons, finishing his college career with 30 goals in 31 games and winning the Hobey Baker Award as the best player in college hockey. His shot and knack for finding open space in the offensive zone have translated well to the NHL where he has scored at a 32-goal pace through his first three seasons, including the 2022-23 season where he scored at a 46-goal pace.

2024 Option: Cole Eiserman is the obvious comparison, as both Coles spent their draft years filling the net with the NTDP. If Eiserman is available to Detroit at 15, it’s hard to imagine them passing on his goal scoring potential.

2018: Grigori Denisenko

Grigori Denisenko was drafted to be a top-line scoring winger who played a lot bigger than his 5-foot-11 frame because of his relentless motor. He spent a few seasons in Russia’s pro and junior systems after being drafted, where his scoring never seemed to pop at any level, though he was impressive as the captain of Russia’s World Juniors team in 2020. 

Related: 2024 NHL Mock Draft 2.0 – Horn’s Post-Lottery Mock

Denisenko has struggled to find consistent NHL minutes, eventually being waived by the Florida Panthers and picked up by the Vegas Golden Knights. In the AHL, he has looked solid overall, though his offensive production took a significant step forward this past season. Vegas is a team in constant need of talent on cheap deals, and with one more season at $775k, I think Denisenko is a likely candidate to play middle-six minutes in Vegas next season.

2024 Option: Egor Surin is a highly competitive forward who doesn’t play a particularly flashy style, but who wins his minutes handily with his incredible compete level.

2017: Erik Brannstrom

Erik Brannstrom was a highly regarded offensive defenseman coming out of Sweden during his draft year. After tearing up Sweden’s top junior level in back-to-back seasons, Brannstrom played in 35 SHL games as an undersized, draft eligible defender. He was in the midst of a very successful AHL rookie season when he was traded to the Ottawa Senators by the Vegas Golden Knights, as a significant piece of the Mark Stone trade.

Brannstrom has shown well in the AHL whenever he has played there, but the NHL has been a bit of a challenge for him. He was fourth among Senators defenders in total ice time last season and scored a career-high 20 points in 76 games. There’s still a very clear path for Brannstrom to become a top-four caliber defenseman, and while the Sens hoped for more from him, that’s still solid value for a 15th overall pick.

2024 Option: Aron Kiviharju is unlikely to be drafted in this range this season, but his offensive potential is still intriguing. He is an incredible skater and sees the ice like few others can, but he missed a ton of time due to injury this year, and the games he did play didn’t exactly help his projection.

2016: Luke Kunin

Luke Kunin is a hard working forward who was drafted for his work ethic and finishing potential. He was excellent for the University of Wisconsin in his draft year, and followed it up with an even better year as the team’s captain. Kunin showed signs of offensive potential as a pro, especially in the AHL, and his hard-working style made him a no-doubt option as at least a bottom-six option for the Minnesota Wild.

In the 2019-20 season, he set a new career high for points with 31 in 63 games, and it looked like he could be on his way to becoming a hard-working middle-six type before he was traded to the Nashville Predators. After two seasons in Nashville he was flipped again to the San Jose Sharks who are deep in their tear-down/rebuild. I think Kunin’s work ethic, physical play, and offensive game are solid and he has a long future in the league as a bottom-six center.

2024 Option: Michael Brandsegg-Nygård is a highly competitive winger with a really strong shot. He has been under appreciated this season in my opinion, and his production in the Allsvenskan against pro competition is really impressive.

2015: Zachary Senyshyn

Zachary Senyshyn is one of Boston’s infamous 2015 Draft picks, selected immediately before Mathew Barzal, Kyle Connor, and Thomas Chabot. He wasn’t a consensus top prospect, with the NHL’s central scouting bureau ranking him 38th among all North American prospects. The reason the Bruins were so keen on taking him early was that he was a late riser in the draft cycle.

His scoring improved significantly over the course of the season (which was his first in the OHL), and he was also a remarkable athlete, looking like one of the most athletic prospects in the class. Sensyshyn’s speed was viewed by many as a serious asset, and his hockey sense was strong as well. However, the defensive intensity and puck skills never seemed to catch up as he bounced between the NHL and AHL for six years before heading overseas to the German DEL for the 2023-24 season.

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

2024 Option: Cole Beaudoin fits the bill here for a couple of reasons. Firstly, he’s got a similar profile as a highly athletic prospect who is rising towards the end of the year, largely due to his performance for Canada at the U18s. Secondly, he would be a pretty big reach at 15th, just like Senyshyn was.

2014: Dylan Larkin

The best example on this list of the value available at the 15th overall pick should also be the most familiar to Red Wings fans. Detroit’s captain, Dylan Larkin, was heavily overshadowed during his draft year with the U18 NTDP squad by a young Jack Eichel who led the first line. Larkin centered the second line and had significantly less help on his wings than Eichel, but still managed to drive play and score a ton of points.

Dylan Larkin Andrew Copp Detroit Red Wings
Dylan Larkin and Andrew Copp celebrate a goal for the Detroit Red Wings (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Larkin was dominant in the NCAA in his first year post-draft, scoring 47 points in 35 games for his hometown University of Michigan. He joined the Red Wings the following season, right at the tail-end of the Henrik Zetterberg era. Larkin’s speed has always been his best asset, but his two-way play has improved dramatically over the years, turning him into a legit top-line center in the NHL and Detroit’s most valuable player.

2024 Option: Obviously there’s nobody likely on the board at 15 that is expected to become a Larkin-level talent, but I think Michael Hage might have a better chance at that than most. He’s a great skating center prospect who has been overlooked a bit by the public this year in the USHL, and I think there’s a chance he could become a 2C in the NHL.

Road to the Draft

Stay tuned over the next month or so as the Red Wings team here at The Hockey Writers prepares to bring you tons of top-quality coverage of the 2024 NHL Entry Draft tailored to the Detroit Red Wings.

Who is your dream selection for the Red Wings at 15th overall? How could they fall to that point and how could they change Detroit’s future? Sound off in the comments below!

Articles You May Like

Griffins Notebook: Kasper, Mazur, Danielson & More
4 Red Wings Trade Targets This Offseason
Detroit Red Wings: Contract Projections for 2024 RFAs
Red Wings News & Rumors: Kane, Trade Market, Prospects & More

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *