Last week, Wings Nation took a look at potential draft picks for the Red Wings’ at sixth overall. While possessing a top-10 pick can be very exciting, it can be easy to forget Detroit owns three picks that will be in the 28-36 range (for the sake of this piece, I am going to assume the Vegas pick becomes no lower than 28). After the Vegas pick, Detroit holds pick 33 (the Ottawa pick from the Brendan Smith trade) and pick 36 (their own second rounder). These draft picks are crucial to any rebuild. The higher up draft picks help lay out a foundation, but these picks take a good team to the next level. These are some options Detroit could be considering when they return to the podium:
Lets start off with the most polarizing prospect of the draft. Ryan Merkley is this year’s boom or bust candidate. Criticized for his defensive play and character issues, he is looking more like a day two selection. However, his offensive prowess and right-hand shot keeps many people wondering how he could slip this far. You can talk too many different scouts, and get mixed opinions, some will have him in the top-15, some will have him completely off their boards.
His resume thus far is still impressive. As a rookie defensemen he lead the Guelph Storm in scoring, and nearly did the same this past season. He also helped lead Canada to gold at the Ivan Hlinka averaging over an assist per game. He’s a gifted skater who has incredible vision.
2020 NHL Draft prospect Alexis Lafreniere gets the overtime winner off of his own rebound. This kid has been an incredible player all tournament. 3-2 win for Canada. #U18Worlds pic.twitter.com/AS2SySQVcM
— Steven Ellis (@StevenEllisNHL) April 24, 2018
The question is, are his offensive skills good enough to overlook his glaring issues? He’s been seen engaging in verbal disputes with his coaches on the bench, and some scouts have gone as far as saying he doesn’t try defensively. In Detroit’s case, does adding him to a crop of already small blue-liners change their outlook dramatically enough to take that risk? Is one bad play of his worth the two good plays he makes?
Speed. Strength. Skill.
Liam Foudy has a complete skill set that makes him dangerous in all aspects of the game. One of the biggest risers of the draft, Foudy was able to breakout in the second half of the season when big names like Robert Thomas were shipped out of London. His expanded role allowed him to showcase his talents. His numbers don’t jump off the page, but his play on the ice speaks for itself.
#2018NHLDraft Liam Foudy has 14 goals in his last 16GP, and 20 in 29 since the Jan 1. Increased TOI is a big factor, but I've noticed he's not being fast just for the sake of it anymore. Here's a good example, and notice the strength & vision, too: pic.twitter.com/HtFPcunfG9
— Mitch Brown (@MitchLBrown) March 17, 2018
It’s easy to think of Chris Krieder when you watch him play. The speed he possesses for a player his size doesn’t grow on trees. It’s not hard to understand where it came from, as he is a former track star and his mother won a silver medal for Canada as an Olympic sprinter (his father also won a Grey Cup). Taking him in the early second round wouldn’t necessarily be a reach, but its unlikely he’ll still be around by the third round. Nevertheless, Detroit would still be acquiring an excellent prospect who could become one of the steals of the draft.
K’Andre Miller would bring an element the Red Wings’ defensive prospects are severely lacking – size. at 6’3″ and 206lbs, Miller would certainly beef up the blue-line. But there is more than just size to his game. He plays a strong two-way game and is an effective puck-mover. He also brings physicality, and isn’t a one-dimensional player. His skating is strong even for a player his size, due to his powerful strides and tremendous agility.
(K'Andre) Miller time pic.twitter.com/1Gz6TH99g7
— USHL (@USHL) December 10, 2017
Miller used to play forward, so he has great awareness in the offensive zone. Heading to the University of Wisconsin next season, he’ll be heading to a great program under Tony Granato. This past season for the USNTDP he was an offensive force, and was arguably the best defensemen for them on a very deep blue-line. For instance, Bode Wilde is widely viewed at as a sure-fire 1st rounder, and possibly a top-20 pick. This is how Miller compared to him in the USHL:
Chart via prospect-stats.com
One of my favorite players of this draft, Berggren has been flying under the radar for so long, but now it looks like the cat is finally out of the bag. After another impressive performance at the Under-18s scouts have started to take notice. The Swedish forward is dynamic with the puck and can be so unpredictable for defenders to read. He loves to carry the puck and be the primary leader of the attack. His play-making skills are up their with the very best of the draft.
Jonatan Berggren – a favourite of mine – did here what he does in the SuperElit. He was the primary puck carrier and playmaker, often combining both for deadly effect. A few snippets of what he can do: pic.twitter.com/R1yzKj1a7Y
— Mitch Brown (@MitchLBrown) February 18, 2018
Stats wise, he’s had success internationally, as well as in Superelit. He got some SHL action where he didn’t fare well, but he’s one of the younger players of this class, so just getting some time in the pro league is an accomplishment in itself.
Another late riser, Nils Lundkvist is a defenseman Detroit could look at in this range. He plays with poise and isn’t overly flashy with stick handling, but the talent is well documented. He can QB a powerplay with his quick decision-making and on-point passes. Speaking of passing, he’s one of the best blue-line-to-blue-line passer in this draft, making it look effortless with his tape-to-tape passes from afar. He can make opposing defenders look silly as he seamlessly finds teammates in prime scoring positions.
— Anton Johansson (@antonj85) February 10, 2018
Nils Lundkvist stoppar John Persson. pic.twitter.com/Obu0UyZuhL
— Anton Johansson (@antonj85) March 1, 2018
The most impressive part is his experience in the SHL. He played 28 games for Luleå HF and averaged 16:28 minutes. Not bad for a 17 year-old in the top Swedish league. The only red flag I can see for why Detroit may decide to go a different direction: he is another small defender at 5’11” and 174lbs.
Unlikely to fall to one of Detroit’s picks, Bokk is still worth diving into. The second coming of the “Deutschland Dangler“, Bokk resembles a style of game very similar to David Pastrňák. His shot is top-notch because of his explosive release. He likes to shoot the puck more than pass, but if I had a cannon like he does, I would do the same. He also combines quick hands and dangles to give himself space to rip some shots.
If this kid somehow slips to the Vegas pick, there is no way they can pass on him. He’s going to be a star in the NHL.