It is no secret that the 2019-20 NHL season has been difficult for the Detroit Red Wings. They own a 12-34-4 record, which puts them dead last in the league standings by a sizable margin.
Thankfully, if the Red Wings wind up finishing the campaign in last place, they would own the best odds at getting the first-overall pick. While that sounds great on the surface, the team would only have an 18.5% chance of selecting first. The odds suggest that the Red Wings are most likely to select fourth overall with a 50.6% chance.
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Now, of course, the hope is that the Red Wings are blessed by the hockey gods, and they get the top pick that they so desperately need. Nevertheless, selecting fourth-overall is a realistic possibility, and there are still several talented players that will be available in that spot.
Assuming Alexis Lafreniere, Quinton Byfield, and Lucas Raymond are the top three picks of the draft, The Grind Line suggests who they would choose with the fourth-overall selection.
Rachel Anderson: Ty Smilanic, F, USNTDP (USHL)
The United States National Team Development Program cleaned up at the 2019 NHL Entry Draft. They had eight players selected in the first round, and all but two of their skaters were listed on the NHL Central Scouting top prospects list. It is fair to say that forward Ty Smilanic will be easily noticed in 2020 and have the backing needed for selection.
Standing just over 6-feet tall, he doesn’t have height on his side like many other prospects, but there is still plenty of room to grow. Smilanic has spent more than four seasons with the USNTDP, developing with the best players in the United States. He’s not a point-per-game skater, but he’s consistent and focused.
He’s been compared to Dylan Larkin mostly because of his smooth skating and precise footwork. Who wouldn’t want another Larkin? He’s not a physical specimen or aggressive, but he has elite hockey sense that will serve a valuable purpose in all scenarios.
Committed to Quinnipiac University, that will also buy the Red Wings at least four seasons to develop him while figuring out the long-term goal for existing prospects.
Devin Little: Jamie Drysdale, D, Erie (OHL)
Before we dive in, a couple of things need to be noted:
- If a guy like Raymond happens to be available at fourth overall, the Red Wings should take him.
- Tim Stutzle is going to be a S-T-U-D.
However, after the Red Wings drafted Moritz Seider last season with the sixth-overall pick, they can inject another high-end defensive prospect into their system. Boasting a future blue line unit featuring Drysdale, Seider, and Filip Hronek is just too tantalizing to resist.
Drysdale fits the mold of a do-it-all defender. He’s currently a bit under-sized, but it would not take too long for the rearguard to add more muscle to his frame. He’s the kind of guy you can plug in anywhere in the lineup and not spend another second thinking about it.
Drysdale is likely another year out from contributing at the NHL level, but that shouldn’t deter general manager Steve Yzerman. During that year, Drysdale can learn to dominate at his current level, and the defensive prospects already in the Red Wings’ system can play meaningful games in Detroit or with the Grand Rapids Griffins. With the current logjam on defense, it would behoove Red Wings management to let time clear out the excess players.
The beautiful thing about the 2020 Draft is that it is loaded at the top. Even if the Red Wings fall to fourth overall, they will still have many franchise-altering players available to them. While Drysdale is a tantalizing player at fourth, the Red Wings are sure to add a high-end prospect at any position as compensation for this dreadful season.
Raymond Harrison: Tim Stutzle, F, Mannheim (DEL)
All due respect to Marco Rossi and Drysdale, who are both excellent prospects in their own right, but my ideal fourth-overall pick for the Red Wings is Tim Stutzle. In fairness, Stutzle’s hype has been steadily rising over the past few months, which means he may not be available by the fourth pick. Nevertheless, assuming he is available, the German forward is a perfect fit.
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Stutzle is a dynamic skater with soft hands, and his ceiling looks elite. Picking another forward with a game-breaking skillset is a necessary additive for the team’s rebuild. He has produced 27 points in 28 games in his first season in the DEL, despite being one of the league’s youngest players.
It is difficult to find many faults in Stutzle’s game. His vision is off the charts, he is capable of running a power play, and at 6-foot-1, he is strong enough to get to the dirty areas of the ice. Putting him on a line with Filip Zadina on the opposite wing would be a beautiful sight for Red Wings fans. Likewise, he and Seider are both German-born players that have played together on the international stage.
As Devin mentioned, the 2020 Draft is quite strong. The hope is that the Red Wings can snag Lafreniere, but even if they fall to the fourth-overall pick, they will end up adding an impactful prospect.
Let us know in the comments below who your favorite prospects are for the upcoming draft, and who you would take at the fourth-overall spot.