The Detroit Red Wings are in need of an impact scorer. The team has not had a player whose job it is to score at will since the departures of Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg. Could the team find this type of player in the upcoming NHL entry draft on Friday, July 23rd?
The Detroit Red Wings finished the 2020-2021 regular season with 19 wins in an abbreviated 56 game season. This was a step forward from a 2019-2020 season that saw the team win only 17 games before it was paused due to the coronavirus. Owen Power of the University of Michigan will more than likely be drafted first overall by the Buffalo Sabres. There are several prospects that the Red Wings could draft with the sixth overall pick in the 2021 NHL entry draft.
One position that the Detroit Red Wings will need to address at some point is that of goaltender. Jimmy Howard was forced to retire after the 2019-2020 season playing his entire 14-year career with the Red Wings. There is no long-term answer for the Red Wings when it comes to the goaltender position. So, who are the goaltending prospects in the 2021 NHL draft? Could it be a goaltender or some other position?
Jesper Wallstedt is a goaltender from Västerås, Sweden who has the potential to become a "franchise goalie." The 18-year-old spent his draft season playing in the Swedish Hockey League. The case against the Red Wings drafting Wallstedt is easy, the team is not expected to contend for the Stanley Cup any time soon, and the team can use this draft capital to address other needs in the 2021 NHL draft.
The Red Wings need to hit on whatever player they choose at number six. Despite drafting in the top 10 every year, the team has not turned any player they have taken in the first round since 2017 into a bona fide NHL center. This is a position that is one of the most important in the sport. Beyond Dylan Larkin and Robby Fabbri, the team does not have any offensive threats at the center position. Fabbri was acquired from the St. Louis Blues in November of 2019.
Ethan Phillips of the Sioux Falls Stampede was the last center drafted by the team in the fourth round of the 2019 NHL entry draft. Phillips is currently attending Boston University. Phillips played in one game during the 2020-2021 season with Boston University before suffering an injury. Phillips is far from the only Detroit Red Wings prospect on the Boston University roster.
Robert Mastrosimone was a freshman at Boston University at the same time. These two are similar players in that they have slight frames. This can be the case for college players. The two just need to add muscle to their frames and can do that at the NHL level. For now, the two BU Terriers need to use their speed and hockey IQ to make up for this lack of strength. It remains to be seen as to whether or not the two players will make it onto the Detroit Red Wings roster.
Detroit Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman made a surprise in drafting defenseman Moritz Seider sixth overall in the 2019 NHL draft. Seider will more than likely make his debut with the Red Wings during the 2021-2022 NHL season. The difficulty is trying to project what Yzerman will do going into any draft. This is because he does not tip his hand as to what he is thinking. That is how you get the moment of Seider being shocked at his name being called during the draft.
Yzerman built the Tampa Bay Lightning team that has just won their second of back-to-back Stanley Cups as he was general manager of the team. This win did not come without controversy, however, as the team was technically $18 million over the salary cap due to right-winger Nikita Kucherov returning from offseason hip surgery in time to play in the playoffs. Yzerman drafted Kucherov out of Maykop, Russia in 2011.
The Detroit Red Wings also have the 23rd overall pick in the 2021 NHL draft. This pick was acquired in the trade that sent Anthony Mantha to the Washington Capitals. I wrote at the time that a trade that included Mantha could accelerate the Red Wings rebuild. Jakub Vrana was also included in this trade and has already paid dividends for the team. Vrana scored eight goals and added three assists in 11 games played for the Red Wings.
So, how do the Red Wings maximize the return on this Anthony Mantha trade? Finding a prospect that other teams may have missed or overlooked at a position of need. Drafting a player such as center Zachary Bolduc could be the player that fits that description. Bolduc is seen as an excellent skater with a high hockey IQ. This combination of traits makes it easy to see that this is the kind of prospect that the Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman would draft.
After having an injury in 2021 with Rimouski of the QMJHL, Bolduc may need time to develop as a prospect, and at this point in the draft, the Red Wings are not looking for a player to step into their lineup right away.
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