‘Dirty’ goals, grit drew Wings to Dylan Sadowy

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News
Dylan Sadowy

Detroit – Dylan Sadowy is watching the Stanley Cup Finals, and he sees the team that drafted him, the San Jose Sharks, on the screen.

But it doesn’t bother him.

The team the Sharks traded him to, the Red Wings, have had their share of playoff success themselves.

“The Sharks have a great organization, but when you look at the Red Wings organization and the Stanley Cups they’ve won, and all the playoff appearances, it’s an amazing accomplishment,” said Sadowy, acquired by the Red Wings May 26 in exchange for a 2017 third-round draft pick. “It’s an Original Six organization and I’m excited and honored to be part of it.”

After acquiring Sadowy (6-foot-1, 195 pounds), the Red Wings were generally praised by draftniks and followers of junior hockey for a potentially shrewd trade.

Sadowy, 20, was a Sharks third-round pick in 2014, but the two sides couldn’t come to a contract agreement.

“We just couldn’t work anything out, and both sides kind of agreed it was a good time to move on,” Sadowy said.

If Sadowy hadn’t signed by June 1 – and he wasn’t going to – he would have gone back into the draft this month and likely would have been a first-round pick.

Wings fans face price hikes in new arena

The Sharks didn’t want to lose Sadowy without getting anything in return – and the Red Wings swiftly moved to work out a deal for the gritty left wing, a two-time 40-goal scorer in the Ontario Hockey League.

“We liked him in his draft year and our area guys (scouts) definitely liked him,” said Ryan Martin, the Red Wings’ assistant general manager. “But at the end of the day, there are only so many guys you can pick.

“We like his grit and competitiveness, coupled with a good skill set. He had two 40-goal seasons in the OHL, so clearly he’s got offensive skills.”

Sadowy had 45 goals and 25 assists last season while splitting the season between Saginaw and Barrie. In the playoffs, with Barrie, he had two goals and three assists in eight games.

What stands out about Sadowy -- possibly the strength of his game -- is his willingness to go the net, play in the “tough areas,” and excel doing so.

“He scores a lot of goals from the hard areas,” Martin said.

It became apparent as last season progressed the Red Wings don’t have many players that effectively go to the net and are able to absorb the punishment sometimes necessary to score goals.

But with Sadowy, that’s not the case.

“It’s where I score most of my goals,” said Sadowy, who scored 116 goals in 258 career OHL games. “I know you have to go there, take a lot of crap from defensemen, and battle to get rebounds and those “dirty” goals.

“I’m going to continue to do that, to make the team.”

For the remainder of this summer, Sadowy will continue to work on his skating and quickness.

“I know that going to the next level, the game is faster,” Sadowy said. “I have to work on my first three strides to keep up with the players who are obviously older and stronger than I am right now.”

During his last two OHL seasons, in the league’s annual coaches’ poll, Sadowy was named among the league’s best shot blockers, penalty killers, and most-dangerous in the goal area.

“What really stands out is his competitiveness and grit and willingness to block shots and do the little things,” Martin said. “He’s a guy whose game could translate well to the NHL level because of all the little things he does.”

Sadowy played two seasons in Saginaw with Red Wings goaltending prospect Jake Paterson, and attended the same high school as forward Andreas Athanasiou in Woodbridge (Ontario).

The way Sadowy sees it, joining the Red Wings was destiny.

“My first year playing AAA hockey, I played for the Toronto Red Wings,” said Sadowy, of when he was about 9 years old. “Then I played for Saginaw for three years, which is right down the road.

“I’ve always followed the Red Wings, went to games. I can’t wait to get started.”