The 2019 NHL Draft is on the horizon. In just a few short weeks, teams from across North America will make their way to Vancouver to make their picks from the stars of the NHL’s future. With the sixth-overall pick at their disposal, the Detroit Red Wings have quite a bit to think about. Rebuilding their blue line is the priority, but it never hurts to add some star power to a rebuilding roster. With that being said, here are five options for the Red Wings’ first-round pick that general manager Steve Yzerman can utilize to build the next great dynasty in Detroit.
Bowen Byram, D, Vancouver Giants
At 6-foot-1 and 191 pounds, Bowen Byram is a force to be reckoned with. He led the WHL in scoring during the Giants’ playoff run, but quickly showed his potential during the 2018-19 season. He put together a pretty 71 points in 67 games, an incredibly noteworthy feat given his position on the blue line. He’s reputed for his ability away from the puck as well, with agile, quick-footed skating and a shifty tenacity to get in position. In the most ideal world, he’d be Detroit’s pick, but he’s more than likely to go sooner rather than later.
Alex Turcotte, C, USNDP
Renowned for his two-way play, center Alex Turcotte has earned high marks for his responsibility both on and off the puck. He’s been compared to Dylan Larkin, Patrice Bergeron, and Ryan O’Reilly, putting up 27 goals and 62 points in just 37 games. He missed a bit of time with a hip injury, but the fact that he scored so much in such little time is nothing short of impressive. He’s the next best forward in the draft behind Jack Hughes and Kaapo Kakko, and if the Wings can net him, he’ll be a boon for years to come.
Dylan Cozens, C, Lethbridge Hurricanes
Dylan Cozens’ 1.24 points-per-game pace (84 points in 68 games) put him in the top-20 for all WHL players in the 2018-19 season. He’s only 17 and he’s the youngest on his team. Plus, he’s huge. Cozens is a whopping 6-foot-3 without skates. He’s able to muscle his opposition away from the puck by throwing his body around and manhandling any competition. He’s also a surprisingly adept skater, quick to accelerate at a moment’s notice. A guy who can shoot, hit, and stay responsible? Sign me up.
Vasili Podkolzin, RW, SKA St. Petersburg
By far the most complex draft candidate, Vasili Podkolzin can do it all. Whether he’s working a power play or serving a penalty kill, he battles through every situation with sheer tenacity and unfaltering willpower. Whenever he’s on the ice, opponents have to watch out. He’ll battle his way through any situation, powering through the forecheck, backcheck, and transition zone without missing a beat. The biggest concern is his contract situation. He’s signed with SKA St. Petersburg through 2021 and he’s made it abundantly clear that he’ll be staying through its entirety. Is he worth a grab, or will the Wings take a pass on this risky pick?
Wild Card: Trade Down
Yzerman has never been a predictable guy. With the Tampa Bay Lightning, he was known for last-second trades, big buyout moves, and huge signings. Who’s to say that trend won’t continue in Hockeytown? If Stevie sees someone he likes later in the draft (Phillip Broberg, anyone?), he may consider trading down to score a few extra picks. Teams looking to make the move up may include the Vancouver Canucks, who have consistently been shafted in the draft, or the Arizona Coyotes, who may be looking to add some extra power before their next push.
What do you think Yzerman and the Wings should do? Is defense the move, or should they go for the best player available? What about the possibility of trading down? Let us know in the comments!