The 2020 NHL Draft is expected to be one of the most stacked in years. With three players who would be number one picks most years and a plethora of talent to follow them, it’s the perfect draft for a team with a high first-round draft pick. Not only that, it’s perfect for a team with several second and third-round picks as well. A team that fits that bill is the Detroit Red Wings.
GM Steve Yzerman has prepared the Red Wings heavily for this year’s draft. They have three picks in the second round as well as two in the third to go with the fourth overall pick. Coming off one of the worst seasons in NHL history, the rebuilding Wings will be hoping for a major spark from those six picks. Let’s take a look at a few reasons why the 2020 NHL Draft is so important for the Detroit Red Wings.
The 2020 Draft is Stacked
As mentioned earlier, this draft is looking to be one of the deepest the league has seen in a long time. The top of the draft is chock full of talent that would be easy top-five picks most years. There are very few ways Steve Yzerman could go wrong with the fourth pick. Jamie Drysdale, Cole Perfetti and Marco Rossi are just a few of many, very viable selections for the Wings at four.
However, it’s not just the top of the draft that’s full of talent. The second round this year is projected to be one of the most talented we have ever seen. A guy like Marat Khusnutdinov, who is projected by Craig Button as a top-6 forward, is a very realistic option for the Wings at pick 32. Most years, you’d see players of that talent level going mid-to-late round one. But with this much talent, the Wings can reap the rewards with some big names available in round two.
Loads of Mid-Round Picks
With the rebuild in full swing over the last few years, the Red Wings have loaded up on draft picks. Their six picks in the first three rounds are tied for the second-most behind only the Ottawa Senators. These resources are being given to a man who has a history of finding contributors with his mid-round picks. Yzerman’s former team, the Tampa Bay Lightning, won the 2020 Stanley Cup led by these hidden gems.
The leading scorers in the playoffs for the Lightning were 2011 second-round pick Nikita Kucherov and 2014 third-round pick Brayden Point. They also saw contributions from 2012 fourth-round pick Cedric Paquette as well as 2015 third-round pick Anthony Cirelli. While he hasn’t hit on every mid-round pick he’s had, he has hit at a very high rate. With that in mind, the more lottery tickets he has, the better chance of adding future contributors to this team.
The Pandemic Makes Things Difficult
2020 has been a chaotic year and has made this draft a bit more difficult for GMs. With the COVID-19 pandemic, there was no NHL Scouting Combine to help look at players. The majority of prospects also had their 2020 seasons cut short as the pandemic hit around the time their playoffs were meant to start. Scouts won’t have taken a look at these players in action in nearly six months, and it makes deciding which players they should take much more difficult.
With that in mind, this is a big year for Yzerman to get it right. The Red Wings have a great scouting department, and Yzerman is no slouch himself. He needs to show it in this draft by finding the right guys to spark this rebuild further. If he misses, the rebuild gets delayed another full year. The pandemic will make that more difficult than normal, but not impossible for a GM of Yzerman’s stature.
Nowhere to Go But Up
There really isn’t a way that the 2020-21 season could be worse for the Red Wings than last season. They were historically bad in a rebuilding year. They had the worst point percentage of any non-expansion team in the overtime loss era, so surely it can’t get worse from here.
With that said, they need to hit in the 2020 draft to make sure the rebuild continues to go to plan. Steve Yzerman has done a great job in his first year as GM for the Red Wings, but he needs to keep it up. With so many picks at his disposal in a historically great draft, missing and not adding valuable pieces for the future of this team would be, frankly, a failure.
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