Red Wings Stick to the Plan With 2024 Draft Class

The Hockey Writers

The 2024 NHL Entry Draft is officially behind us as all 32 teams have made their selections and are beginning final preparations for free agency. The Detroit Red Wings, led by general manager (GM) Steve Yzerman and director of amateur scouting Kris Draper, made eight selections at the event in Las Vegas, including the 15th pick in the first round.

The Red Wings took players from every position group, further deepening an already overflowing prospect pool. What do we know about each individual they selected, and what does their draft class as a whole tell us about the organization’s future? By the end of this article, you should have a pretty good idea.

15. Michael Brandsegg-Nygård

Scouting Report: “Brandsegg-Nygård might be one of the most complete players in the upcoming 2024 NHL Entry Draft. While some players usually have one strength with their offensive game that stands out to many scouts, he has several strengths and doesn’t neglect any of them. It also helps that he is viewed as one of the strongest defensive-minded forwards in the upcoming draft, so translating his game from Europe to North America shouldn’t be too difficult.” – THW prospect profile

“Brandsegg Nygård’s rare combination of pace, physicality and work ethic is underlined by his ability to process the game as fast as he plays it. When he’s got the puck on his stick and trying to move it, you can tell he approaches situations with a plan.” – Felix Robbins, McKeen’s Hockey

Related: 2024 NHL Draft Guide

Analysis: Over the next few days and weeks, you will probably hear the sentiment that the Red Wings have now taken the same player in three straight first rounds. While it is true that Marco Kasper, Nate Danielson and Michael Brandsegg-Nygård all have similar traits, to simplify them down to the same player would be inaccurate. In fact, the three of them together could make for a really strong offensive line one day.

Brandsegg-Nygård’s defining traits are his compete level, two-way play and, perhaps most notably, his shot. As Yzerman said after the first night of the draft: he can absolutely rip it. He powers his way towards the offensive zone and can overwhelm the opposition with his pro-ready size (6-foot-1, 205 pounds) and surprising mobility. While he isn’t a bruiser on the wing, he can outwork and outsmart his opponents with his high hockey-IQ – another trait many Red Wings prospects have. If he reaches his potential, he’ll become a perennial 30-goal scorer and could even develop into an elite two-way winger in the mold of former Red Wing Marian Hossa. He might compete hard and think the game well like Kasper and Danielson, but Brandsegg-Nygård separates himself from them as the best goal-scorer of the three – something the Red Wings needed in this draft.

Michael Brandsegg-Nygard Detroit Red Wings
Michael Brandsegg-Nygard, Detroit Red Wings (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

This pick tells us that the Red Wings have a type and they’re sticking to it. This pick might be seen as boring because so many folks projected Brandsegg-Nygård to go to Detroit, but that’s for a reason. The Red Wings continue to use first round picks on players that are a pain in the butt to play against at both ends of the ice – and who wouldn’t love a future Red Wings team that is filled with players that drive the opposition nuts?

47. Max Plante

Scouting Report: “Plante is one of the better playmakers in this class. He has skated alongside some of the USNTDP’s top talent and has excellent hand-eye coordination. Plante isn’t big, but he’s always looking to make a smart pass, and it pays off.” – Steven Ellis, Daily Faceoff

“High-pace playmaker who shows flashes of elite hockey sense. Lack of size and inconsistency make him a boom-or-bust prospect with top-six upside.” – Hadi Kalakeche, Dobber Prospects

Analysis: During Yzerman’s tenure as GM, the Red Wings have been keen on taking swings in the second round. Usually it’s with defensemen that have raw talent but need time to refine it. This time, however, they took a swing on a winger that, if he hits, could become a legitimate high-end playmaker in the NHL.

Max Plante had 61 points, 46 of them being assists, in 51 games while playing with the United States National Development Program this season. His confidence with the puck is evident, especially at full speed. He likes to open up lanes as a puck carrier and a passer, and his on-ice intelligence allows him to do so. Like many other Red Wings prospects, his compete level is high, though not necessarily in a way where you project him to grind along the boards at the next level. He’s a competitive player, and he wants to be a big reason his team has success.

The key for Plante will be maintaining a strong defensive game that allows him to take chances in the offensive zone. He could develop into a top six winger if his offensive game translates at the pro level; his playmaking abilities make him a potential difference-maker whenever he’s on the ice, and that’s the type of player would really like to find outside of the first round. You’ll hear the term “boom or bust” regarding him because he has to be a point producer at the NHL level, or he simply won’t be in the NHL – his physical tools aren’t strong enough to project him as a bottom six winger.

Still, given the “safe” pick in the first round, it was a little refreshing to see Detroit swing on an offensive player like this in the second round.

80. Ondrej Becher

Scouting Report: “Becher is an smart offensive force that impacts the game at both ends. He moves well with great straight-line acceleration and fluid edges. He takes open spaces and puts himself in high-danger opportunities, generally attacking the weak side of the ice.” – Joey Fortin Boulay, FC Hockey

“The best part of Becher’s offensive game is his playmaking, specifically at driving offense on the perimeter of the offensive zone. He speeds around defenders while stickhandling around defenders, making risky but often worthwhile passes that lead to goals.” – THW prospect profile

Analysis: The theme of Detroit’s second and third picks in this year’s draft was playmaking as both Plante and Ondrej Becher project as pass-first, creative wingers. Like Plante, Becher excels at creating from the perimeter and uses a smooth skating stride to open up lanes for him and the puck. He was a key part of a strong Prince George Cougars offense, finishing fourth on his team with 96 points in 58 games.

Oh and by the way, he’s 20 years old.

Ondřej Becher Prince George Cougars
Ondřej Becher, Prince George Cougars (Photo Credit: Tri-City Americans)

As an overage player, Becher is a bit further along in his development as a player, and the Red Wings can move him to the ECHL or the American Hockey League a lot sooner. Like the two player picked before him, he has a strong defensive game, though his play in his own zone is actually one of his stronger traits. It’s easy to envision him becoming a good pro at some level. His ceiling is likely a middle six winger, and that’s a good piece to reach for at this point in the draft.

126. Landon Miller

Scouting Report: “Miller is a sizable goaltender who stays positionally solid to make saves. He is a tough goaltender to beat with his size and ability to consistently stay in position.” – David Phillips, FC Hockey

Analysis: Landon Miller was the backup goaltender for the Soo Greyhounds of the Ontario Hockey League. He recorded 17 wins in 30 appearances, a 2.79 goals-against average, and a .889 save-percentage. Based on this information alone, he’s a long-term project – as most goaltenders are – but a necessary addition as the Red Wings have shuffled some goalies in and out of their system over the last couple of years.

Miller has good size for a goaltender (6-foot-5, 195 pounds) and is a lefty, meaning that his glove is on his right hand. He is strong positionally, but can find himself scrambling after making the first save. He would do well to add some more leg strength so he can attack shooters better from side to side. With Sebastian Cossa and Trey Augustine, among others, already in the system, Miller can develop without any outside pressure to become a savior. The Red Wings can, should, and will take their time with this player.

144. John Whipple

Scouting Report: “He consistently places his stick well in passing lanes and always keeps it in good position to make a play on the puck. His ability to read the offense and act accordingly is impressive, and it makes him a frustrating blueliner to play against.” – David Phillips, FC Hockey

Analysis: John Whipple isn’t massive like many of the Red Wings’ other blue line prospects, but his mobility fits in with the rest of Detroit’s pool. While his skating isn’t quite at an elite level, his skating won’t hold him back from making a play. He’s a left-handed defensive defenseman with strong defensive instincts, but there are certain tools he possesses that hint at some hidden potential.

Whipple is content to hang back in the offensive zone and let his team’s playmakers do their thing. He makes simple, effective plays when he has the puck, but he rarely looks to make a big play himself. That’s not necessarily a bad thing – every team needs defenders that simply take care of business in their own zone – but the way he reads the play on defense makes you wonder if he could eventually carry those abilities over to the offensive end.

As it is, Whipple is a low-risk, moderate-reward defense prospect for an organization whose pool is filled with high-end defensemen. But as their best guys graduate to the NHL, it’s nice to have guys like this stashed away as long-term bets to eventually fill a role in the NHL.

176. Charlie Forslund

Scouting Report: “Forslund’s got some credibility as a dual-threat scorer, but it’s his shot that really stands out as his most potent weapon. He pairs that wicked release with a knack for popping into soft ice and creating opportunities to use it away from the puck.” – Elite Prospects

Analysis: Perhaps one of the more intriguing prospects in Detroit’s draft class, Charlie Forslund actually has a similar toolkit as the Red Wings’ top pick, Brandsegg-Nygård. Forslund is big at 6-foot-3, 212 pounds, he has an impressive shot, and he – surprise surprise – competes hard. He is also the lone Swede in the Red Wings’ draft class, and you probably know how much this organization loves Swedish talent.

Forslund is set to play with the same program that developed Brandsegg-Nygård: Mora IK over in Sweden. Draper told the press after the draft that the team was particularly excited about that as Mora has proven they handle their young talent well. Furthermore, given that they share a lot of the same tools, it isn’t too farfetched to imagine Forslund traveling down the same developmental path as the Red Wings’ top pick.

Forslund maybe doesn’t have the same level of upside as Brandsegg-Nygård, but Forslund may very well develop into a powerful two-way scorer as well. Between picks 15 and 176, the Red Wings added a couple of talented playmakers, so it only makes sense that they also targeted players those guys could eventually pass the puck to.

203. Austin Baker

Scouting Report: “Baker doesn’t push the pace too often with the puck on his stick. He opts for the simpler pass, focusing on possession-based offense and wearing down opponents through the cycle passing game and low-to-high passes.” – Kyle Pereira, FC Hockey

Analysis: When you’re in the seventh round, everybody is a project. Henrik Zetterberg might have emerged from the seventh round, but even he took four years before becoming a Red Wing. The players selected here will almost certainly take time – and may not amount to anything – but Detroit made some interesting picks with their last two in this year’s draft.

Austin Baker is a competitive winger that sort fell by the wayside as a low-usage forward with the U.S. National U18 Team this season. He possesses a dangerous shot when he is able to use it, but he was primarily used as a defensive winger this season, and that probably coincides with that the Red Wings project him to be.

Baker, who is expected to join Augustine and Redmond Savage at Michigan State University this season, will have greater opportunities to showcase his toolkit at the collegiate level. It could be interesting to see how he fares in a more offensive role given the strength of his shot. If nothing else, however, he projects as a matchup, bottom six winger that can chip in on offense here and there. Not the most exciting player in this class, but another type of player you have to have in your prospect pool.

208. Fisher Scott

Scouting Report: ““He’s a very good skater, obviously put up good numbers this year going into [Colorado College], where it looks like he’s going to have great opportunity to play a lot.’ – Kris Draper

Analysis: Draper also said that the organization’s U.S. scout was “pounding the table” for Fisher Scott, so it’s clear there is belief in him within the organization. Scott is a mobile, puck-moving defenseman that spent the last two seasons in the United States Hockey League, including this season where he was an alternate captain for his team.

To be honest, there isn’t a ton out there about this player, but that should soon change once he gets going at the collegiate level. Scott is a good competitor, doesn’t have overwhelming size at 6-foot-2, 180 pounds, and could prove to be a good pick here late in the draft depending on if he can physically mature and take his game up a few more levels. Colorado College has a solid program, so he should be in an environment conducive to doing so.

Final Word

The Red Wings stocked up on a bunch of “Red Wings guys”, meaning players that compete their tails off, play well at both ends of the ice, and have some underrated skills in their repertoire. In his sixth draft as GM of the Red Wings, Yzerman and his scouting team stuck with a certain archetype they like, especially in recent years. With Kasper and Danielson both set to challenge for an NHL roster spot this Fall, you can see why Yzerman and Draper like these types of players: they are highly projectable as NHL players.

We won’t know how Detroit did in this year’s draft until years from now, and its success is generally tied to the performance of their top pick, Brandsegg-Nygård. However, the Red Wings did take some swings, particularly in the second and third rounds, on players that could become difference-makers with creativity and playmaking abilities. If you’re in the “the Red Wings don’t draft enough upside” crowd, those picks should make you very happy. The rest of their picks helped replenish a pool that lost some players over the last couple of years for one reason or another.

But how do this year’s picks shape the hierarchy of the Red Wings’ prospect pool? Stay tuned as an update to the Red Wings’ top-25 prospects is coming sometime next month….

What do you think of the Red Wings’ 2024 draft class? Let us know in the comments section down below!

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