Detroit — In many ways the NHL Draft is like the lottery.
Teams are selecting 18-year-old kids who could develop into stars — or may not.
Pick the right player — or have the right ticket — and an organization wins.
Well, the Red Wings have a lot of lottery tickets this weekend, and they’re hoping to find that elusive star.
Few teams will be busier this weekend at the Entry Draft in Chicago’s United Center than the Red Wings.
They own seven draft picks in the first 100 — including picking 9th overall Friday in the first-round — and are hoping this will mark a key turning point for a team that saw its 25-year run of making the playoffs come to an end.
“The draft has become such an important part of building a team,” general manager Ken Holland said. “At the trade deadline we made the decision to acquire extra picks and we’ve got an opportunity for some more hits (picks).
“We’re hoping down the road this draft is one we can point to where we added players who will help our team in the future.”
Holland has accumulated 11 picks overall for this weekend’s draft, including four in the third round.
Holland acquired extra draft picks with trade deadline deals involving Tomas Jurco, Steve Ott, Brendan Smith and Thomas Vanek, as well as getting Toronto’s third-round pick for permission two years ago to talk to former coach Mike Babcock.
The Red Wings have Florida’s 3rd-round pick (No. 71, for Vanek), as well as Toronto’s (No. 79, Babcock), the New York Rangers’ (No. 83, for Smith), and Chicago’s (via Carolina, No. 88, for Jurco).
“There are players every year who are picked in the second, third, fourth rounds and turn out to be key players,” Holland said.
“We have to find them. They’re out there. With all our picks this year, we have more opportunities to find those players.”
The Red Wings have their own first-round (9th overall) and second-round (No. 38) pick, but not their own third-rounder — dealt to San Jose last summer in a trade for prospect Dylan Sadowy, who had a disappointing season in Grand Rapids.
The Red Wings then have their own picks from rounds 3 through 7 (No. 100, 131, 162 and 193), and have an extra selection in the sixth round from Florida in the 2016 trade sending Jakub Kindl to the Panthers (No. 164 overall).
This year’s Entry Draft doesn’t have the generational player such as Sidney Crosby or Connor McDavid, or even many sure-fire players who’ll be able to step into the NHL and contribute immediately.
But Holland likes the depth of this draft.
“There’s a lot of players who will become NHL players,” Holland said. “This draft may not have the superstars, but there’s good depth.”
Expect the Red Wings to concentrate on defensemen, and probably a center, especially losing depth in the organization with the loss to Tomas Nosek to Las Vegas in the expansion draft.
Defensemen, especially those who can play on a team’s top-four, have become incredibly valuable commodities around the NHL.
“To get those types of defensemen, you have to drat and develop them,” Holland said. “To acquire a top-3 defenseman, the price is so high.”
Defensemen who could be available Friday at No. 9 include Timothy Liljegren (Sweden), Cal Foote (Kelowna/WHL), Cale Makar (Brooks/Alberta Junior League) and Juuso Valimaki (Tri-City/WHL).
Among the forward possibilities: Elias Pettersson (Sweden), Cody Glass (Portland/WHL), Casey Middlestadt (Eden Prairie, Minn.) and Michael Rasmussen (Tri-City/WHL).
When: 7 tonight (Round 1); 10 a.m. Saturday (Rounds 2-7)
Where: United Center, Chicago
TV: NBCSN tonight, NHL Network on Saturday.
Red Wings: They have 11 picks — the No. 9 pick in the first round; No. 38 in the second; Nos. 71, 79, 83 and 88 in the third; No. 100 in the fourth; No. 131 in the fifth; Nos. 162 and 164 in the sixth; and No. 193 in the seventh.