Nick Lidstrom, Vladimir Konstantinov, Slava Fetisov, and Larry Murphy are just a few of the great names that have manned the Wings blueline. Today, you will not find one Detroit defender even close to their weight class. Luckily, management has noticed that the Wings biggest weakness currently is the back end, leading them to draft 9 defensemen over the last 2 years. But, as a whole, how well have they done? The Wings defensive prospect pool, is the finest and deepest of any position in their prospect pool.
While none of our prospect defensemen are guaranteed top pair guys, they have collected several defensemen with high upside. Dennis Cholowski has the most upside of anyone, and while it will be a while away since he is a project, becoming a top pair guy is not out of the question for him. Filip Hronek’s development thus far has been incredible, already making the leap to the AHL. I’d say Hronek has potential to become a solid top-4 defensemen one day. Vili Saarijarvi also is looking to have a bright future ahead of him. He is shaping up to become another potential top-4 defensemen. Their isn’t that big name in there, but overall is a good mix of proven players with high upside.
They have also put together a foundation of players who are too early into their development to project what they will become, but have good upside. Malte Setkov, has potential to become a draft steal. Gustav Lindstrom, a project defensemen has shown good signs of being a NHL defensemen one day, however it is too early to tell how good he will be. Having players like this, is good insurance to support the guys who have been identified as the top prospects, such as Cholowski, Hronek, and Saarijarvi.
I am also impressed with the depth of the defensive prospect pool. They have added capable defensemen in Jordan Sambrook, Kasper Kotkansalo, Joe Hicketts, and Libor Sulak. I wouldn’t say any of the names just mentioned will become anything more then top-6 defensemen, however they have enough potential where some of them could surprise us.
Looking at what should be done next, in terms of adding to the defensive prospect pool, would be to look for that true number 1 defensemen. The Wings should look to use 1st round picks on defensemen, while mainly focusing on forwards in the later rounds. Especially for this upcoming draft as it is very heavy on top defensive prospects. Some 2018 Draft eligible defensemen include Rasmus Dahlin, Quinn Hughes, Ryan Merkley, Jared Mcisaac, and Bode Wilde. Adding a top defensive prospect would be the cherry on top of our defensive prospect pool.
The depth is there, the top prospects are there, all that is truly missing is that bonified star defensive prospect who could headline out future blueline for many years to come.
Overall, Detroit has assembled a good defensive prospect pool, but not great. The potential is certainly there, but it is not a guarantee. As to where I would rank them in the league, I would say in the top 15 of the NHL, closing in on top 10.