2019 NHL Draft, Column, Detroit Red Wings, NHL Entry Draft, The Grind Line, Top Story

The Grind Line: Red Wings’ 2019 Draft Strategies

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What’s The Grind Line? Apart from the once-famous line of Kris Draper, Kirk Maltby, and either Joe Kocur or Darren McCarty, The Grind Line is also The Hockey Writers’ weekly column about the Detroit Red Wings. Rachel Anderson, Raymond Harrison, and Tony Wolak are the muckers who makeup THW’s forechecking unit and sound off on Red Wings topics.

During his introductory press conference, Steve Yzerman cautioned that the rebuild still requires patience. However, fans can’t be faulted for a little excitement with the former Red Wings captain at the helm. His draft history speaks for itself and the team already has a strong foundation in place for Yzerman to build on.

In this week’s edition of The Grind Line, The Hockey Writers’ Red Wings coverage team shares their thoughts on the 2019 draft, possible approaches, and if Yzerman is able to swing a deal or two on the draft floor.

Red Wings’ Pick at No. 6

Right off the bat, the million-dollar question: who will Detroit take with the sixth-overall pick?

Tony Wolak: Dylan Cozens

Dylan Cozens’ speed, size, and offensive flare make him the perfect candidate at No. 6, especially with Byram Bowen and Alex Turcotte likely off the board already.

Possible Detroit Red Wings draft pick Dylan Cozens of the Lethbridge Hurricanes.
Adding Dylan Cozens down the middle would give the Red Wings a solid second-line center behind Dylan Larkin. (Robert Murray/WHL)

Rachel Anderson: Matthew Boldy

Matthew Boldy is very skilled on the boards and very rarely gets beat in those battles. He’d be an added physical presence for Detroit, especially on the penalty kill.

Raymond Harrison: Kirby Dach

Assuming Bowen and Cozens are already selected, I think Kirby Dach’s 6-foot-4 frame and elite playmaking ability make him an enticing option down the middle of the ice for the Red Wings.

Intriguing Options at No. 35

Moving into the second round, which prospect do you hope is still around when the Red Wings make their selection with the 35th-overall choice?

Tony Wolak: Moritz Seider

Germany’s Moritz Seider stood out during his World Championship games over the weekend. The right-handed defenseman has some mobility and strong offensive instincts from the point and a large frame to boot. More importantly, Seider’s offensive and defensive hockey IQ fits the brand Steve Yzerman is trying to build in Hockeytown. He’s constantly making heady plays against top competition, whether that’s in Germany’s professional league or international play. Adding Seider to a defensive cohort that already includes Gustav Lindstrom and Jared McIsaac would give the Red Wings another solid phase of defensemen in the system.

Rachel Anderson: Egor Afanasyev

I have mentioned the towering Russian a few times and think he’s definitely made a strong case for himself. His ability to produce and create offense has resulted in an incredible rise from a projected third-round pick to potentially being gone before the first round is over. Afanasyev is a strong skater and has a teachable mind. He has excellent hands and, with a little more instruction, could become a major contributor on the higher-level special teams.

Could the Detroit Red Wings draft Egor Afanasyev of the Muskegon Lumberjacks?
Egor Afanasyev, Muskegon Lumberjacks. Jan. 2019 (Jenae Anderson / The Hockey Writers)

Raymond Harrison: Lassi Thomson

I’d be over the moon if Philip Tomasino somehow fell to No. 35, but that seems unlikely. Instead, I’ll go with a defenseman: Lassi Thomson from the Kelowna Rockets. It is no secret that the Red Wings need to infuse more youth onto their blueline in the coming seasons. Thomson is a fantastic skater that projects to be a power-play quarterback at the next level. The right-handed rearguard needs some seasoning in the defensive zone, but his offensive abilities make him a worthy selection early in the second round.

Another Goalie for the Red Wings?

With Filip Larsson, Keith Petruzzelli, Jesper Eliasson, and others already in the pipeline, should the Red Wings select a goalie in the first three rounds?

Raymond Harrison: Yes

While I’m generally opposed to taking a goalie early in the draft, having three second-round picks in 2019 makes this the perfect time for the Red Wings to snag one. I love Filip Larsson, but getting more talent in the organization is never a bad thing. I look at Pyotr Kochetkov, the top-ranked European goalie by NHL Central Scouting, as an option for one of Detroit’s two late second-round picks. He’s got modern-day goalie size at 6-foot-3 and dominated the 2018 World Juniors en route to being named the top goaltender of the tournament.

Detroit Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman
Steve Yzerman has shown a willingness to draft Russian players in the past, despite their unknown timelines around a move to North America. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

Tony Wolak: Yes

In the past, the Red Wings have opted to select either college-bound or European goaltenders, since they typically have more time to develop than their juniors counterparts. Only Petr Mrazek has played more than 10 games for the Red Wings after graduating from the CHL in the last 25 years. With that being said, I’m in agreement with Raymond on this one – Kochetkov would make an excellent choice late in the second round.

Rachel Anderson: No

Detroit has done a good job drafting goaltenders in the past couple seasons, so it’s unlikely they’ll draft one in the earlier rounds. They’ve got a good stockpile coming down the pipe, so there will be plenty of skill ready to take Jimmy Howard’s place once he calls it quits. With Larsson and Kaden Fulcher already in the pros, the urgency for a goalie is not great enough to merit early-round goaltender drafting.

Draft-Day Trades

Will Steve Yzerman trade away or bring in a roster player during the draft?

Tony Wolak: No

While everyone hopes that Yzerman will flex his managerial muscles at the draft, I don’t anticipate him trading away a roster player. Free agency is right around the corner and most of Detroit’s players are replacement level – there’s no need to acquire someone at the draft for an asset when you can sign someone to fill that void in a few days. After free agency shakes out, then you might see a trade or two.

Trevor Daley of the Detroit Red Wings
Could Trevor Daley be on the move once the free agent market dries up? (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Raymond Harrison: No

I think a move involving a roster player at the draft is highly unlikely. As Tony mentioned, free agency is right around the corner. Opposing teams will attempt to bring in a free agent to plug a hole before they go towards the trade route. Now, if a team misses out on one of their free agent targets, then a trade may become more likely. Someone like Trevor Daley could be shipped out to a team that needs help on the blueline later on in the offseason.

Rachel Anderson: No

I maintain the mindset of my fellow Grind Liners. Detroit, thanks to Ken Holland and company, acquired a healthy stockpile of picks, which doesn’t make it a necessity to start trading roster players to get more. After free agency wraps up and there’s fewer options available, then teams could start calling Yzerman about his players.

Who should the Detroit Red Wings draft at No. 6? At No. 35? Share your thoughts below.

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