Red Wings scout excited about deep draft

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Tyler Wright has been a hockey scout the last 10 years.

But he never has seen an NHL draft like the one that starts tonight and concludes Saturday in Sunrise, Fla.

"Very special," the director of amateur scouting for the Red Wings said about the talent. "Everyone talks about 2003 and how good that draft was, but I feel like this draft will rival that one.

"You have quite a few players who could have good, long careers in the league."

The 2003 draft included goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury (No. 1 overall), and forwards Eric Staal (No. 2), Ryan Getzlaf (No. 19) and Corey Perry (No. 28), all of whom have gone on to tremendous careers.

This weekend's draft includes what many scouts consider two of the best young players to enter the NHL in years — forwards Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel — plus eight to 10 players who can become franchise players.

At No. 19, chances are the Red Wings will land a player who should make a long and lasting impact in the NHL. The first round is today, with Rounds 2-7 on Saturday.

"This is a deep draft," Wright said. "Once you get past the top 10 players, there are probably 25 guys, players who could go in second round, who could become good players in the NHL."

Wright believes there also will be opportunities to move up in the first round or down to acquire another pick Saturday. The Red Wings have picks 19, 73, 110, 140, 170 and 200.

"There's been more chatter than in previous drafts," Wright said. "We'll keep all of our options open."

The Red Wings aren't targeting a particular position in the draft, instead looking for the "best player available" method.

"There are good players out there," Wright said. "You have to go out there and find them."

Still, look for the Red Wings to look for a right-handed defensemen and for goaltending.

The Red Wings appear to have a deep well of forward prospects, headed by last year's first-round pick Dylan Larkin (Waterford/Michigan).

Larkin turned pro this spring and was arguably one of the best players for Grand Rapids during the American Hockey League playoffs (five points, three goals, six games).

McDavid dominates

The Oilers, at No. 1, are expected to select McDavid, with the Sabres taking Eichel second.

Wright believes both are generational type talents, but McDavid, in particular, is a standout player, having dominated world tournaments since he was 15.

"The skill is obviously there, but it's the speed he plays with, that you just normally don't see," Wright said. "He's going to be a special player."

Red Wings targets

Joel Eriksson Ek, C, Farjestad (Swedish League): Good size (6-foot-2, 185 pounds), finishes around the net and has good instincts. Eriksson has been rising on many draft boards and could be a steal.

Travis Konecny, RW, Ottawa (OHL): Not big (5-10, 176), but plays with speed, grit and intensity. Konecny's offensive game is improving (68 points, 60 games).

Jeremy Roy, D, Sherbrooke (QMJHL): A nice two-way defenseman (6-foot, 183) who doesn't overwhelm in any category.

Evgeny Svechnikov, LW, Cape Breton (QMJHL): He has good size (6-2, 200), but doesn't move his feet consistently and has to work harder defensively. Svechnikov had 32 goals his first season in North America.

Jakub Zboril, D, Saint John (QMJHL): He has to get physically stronger (6-1, 184), but is an explosive offensive defenseman with an accurate shot.

NHL draft

Today-Saturday, BB&T Center, Sunrise, Fla.

Schedule: Today — 7 p.m. (Round 1). Saturday — 10 a.m. (Rounds 2-7)

TV: NBCSN tonight, NHL on Saturday

No. 1 pick: Edmonton

Detroit picks: Nos. 19, 73, 110, 140, 170, 200