The NHL Draft Lottery didn’t exactly go the way that Red Wings fans had hoped. Despite having the worst record in the league and second-best odds at the number one pick, Detroit had their hopes crushed as deputy commissioner Bill Daly revealed they had the fourth pick. A collective groan went across Michigan, as the dream of picking Alexis Lafrenière, Quinton Byfield or Tim Stützle (most likely) went out the window.
It’s not impossible that one of either Byfield or Stützle falls into the Red Wings lap at four. If either of them does, Steve Yzerman should absolutely take them. With that said, I don’t expect either of them to be there. So, let’s take a look at who will be there at four and who the Red Wings could take.
Jamie Drysdale – D, Erie Otters (OHL)
If the Red Wings decide to take a defenseman, the guy I expect them to go with is Jamie Drysdale. He is widely regarded as the top defenseman in the draft, and for good reason. At just 5’11” and 170 pounds, he’s a smaller defenseman and that’s not a bad thing. In recent years, the smaller, strong skating defensemen have become more and more prevalent with recent examples being Calder favorites Quinn Hughes and Cale Makar.
As I said, Drysdale is a very strong skater. He’s fast, but also is fantastic at cutting and turning up the ice.
Drysdale’s ability to play both ends of the ice will be something that Yzerman will love. He had 47 points in 49 games with Erie last season. He has great vision and passing and uses his skating ability to create plays. His defending is great too, as he’s able to use his smaller frame intelligently to create great positioning and outwork forwards.
Drysdale is a fantastic two-way defenseman that Yzerman could love to pair with last year’s first round pick, Moritz Seider. While Seider is a two-way player who is stronger defensively, Drysdale can be that playmaking two-way defenseman who is good for 50 points every season while also playing stout defense.
Marco Rossi – C, Ottawa 67s (OHL)
We go from an undersized defenseman to an undersized center in Marco Rossi. The Austrian stands at just 5’9″, but he made a big impact this season leading the entire CHL in points with 120 in 56 games. He’s quick and fast and can make guys miss, but is also very strong on the puck and can fend off bigger players.
He isn’t afraid to get into the dirty areas but is also fantastic at creating space for passing or shooting lanes. His great vision and passing helped him lead the CHL in assists with 81. He also scored 39 goals thanks to his quick release on his wrist shot and his excellent hands around the net.
Last but not least is Rossi’s defending abilities. He’s a very solid, aggressive defender and is great on the penalty kill. As said earlier, he’s not afraid to get into the dirty areas and that goes for on defense as well. He helps his defenders around the net and is exactly the type of two-way forward that Steve Yzerman would like in Detroit.
Cole Perfetti – C, Saginaw Spirit (OHL)
Once again, we look in the OHL for another one of the top scorers in the league, Cole Perfetti. He’s another smaller forward at only 5’10”, but he plays a very different game from Rossi. He doesn’t have the skating ability that Rossi does. What he does have, however, is unbelievable hands and a rocket of a shot.
Perfetti is a pure offensive weapon. His 111 points last season were third in the CHL. After a great 2018-19 where he had 37 goals and 37 assists, he scored the same amount of goals but had 74 assists in 2019-20. His hands allow him to beat defenders easily and create space for himself and his teammates.
He does not have the defensive game or tenacity that Rossi does and don’t expect him to try to get physical. But if you want a guy who can take care of the puck, make great passes, dangle a defender out of his skates and put up points, he’s your guy.
Lucas Raymond – RW/LW, Frölunda HC (SHL)
Yes, another undersized forward, but the Red Wings don’t need to add size up front. They need offensive weapons with speed and playmaking ability, and that’s what Lucas Raymond has. He has elite speed, but it’s more than that. He can change speeds at will with fantastic acceleration and can make plays easily at top speed.
Raymond is another guy with a very quick release on his wrist shot. He has pinpoint accuracy and his great hands allow him to find shooting lanes from almost anywhere. He’s very smart and makes good decisions with the puck. He is willing to play the two-way game but isn’t the greatest defender.
The one thing that may put Raymond over the top for Yzerman is where he plays. Playing in the SHL, he was playing against grown men at a professional level rather than against other kids at the junior level. His stats don’t show that off, but we saw Yzerman take Seider last year who played in the DEL. I could see that being the tipping point in why Yzerman takes him with the fourth pick.
Yaroslav Askarov – G, SKA-Neva St. Petersburg (VHL)
Now it’s time to address the elephant in the room: the goaltender position. The Red Wings have been looking for the heir apparent to Jimmy Howard for years, and still are yet to find him. If they want to guarantee they get him, they should take Yaroslav Askarov with the fourth pick.
Askarov is one of the best goalie prospects in a long time. He is fantastic in so many areas of the game that you rarely see at such a young age. His rebound control is fantastic. His backwards skating ability allows him to prevent getting deked, and he rarely ends up out of position.
The question then comes to: is it worth taking Askarov with the fourth pick? The Red Wings have a couple of goalie prospects that they’re excited about in Filip Larsson and Keith Petruzzelli. While Larsson struggled in the minors this past year, Petruzzelli is coming off a great year at Quinnipiac. If Yzerman is confident in either of those two netminders to be ready by the time the team is ready to compete, he won’t take Askarov. If not, we could see the Red Wings make him the highest picked goalie since Marc-Andre Fleury in 2003.
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