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There’s still plenty of defenseman talent in draft for Red Wings

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Detroit — The lottery balls didn’t fall the Red Wings’ way Saturday in Toronto.

Hoping to win the NHL Draft Lottery and land the first pick overall, the Red Wings’ instead wound up getting the sixth pick overall.
It was a slight disappointment on different levels.

The Red Wings finished fifth from bottom in the overall standings, and heading into the evening, had the fifth-best odds (8.5 percent) of winning the lottery.

So, they’ll actually pick in a position that’s one spot lower than projected.

Also, they had a 26.1 percent opportunity of, at least, earning a top-three pick.

But neither happened.

Buffalo had the worst record, best odds (18.5 percent), and ultimately won Saturday’s lottery. That’ll give the Sabres the opportunity to choose Swedish defenseman Rasmus Dahlin, universally acknowledged as the best player in this draft.

Carolina, which beat the odds (3.0 percent) and crept into the top three spots — forcing the Red Wings to fall one spot — will pick second while Montreal has the third selection.

Ottawa (fourth) and Arizona (fifth) round out the top five, ahead of the Red Wings.

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So, now, instead of focusing on Dahlin, the Red Wings can begin the process of identifying who they’ll add to the organization June 22-23 at the NHL Entry Draft in Dallas.

And there is plenty of talent, past Dahlin, to be picked from.

“There are a lot of players who could be able to step in soon and help teams,” said Dan Cleary, Red Wings’ player development assistant. “There are a lot of talented players available.”

Don’t be surprised if the Red Wings look toward a defenseman — just, obviously, not Dahlin.

After Buffalo chooses Dahlin, Carolina, Montreal and Ottawa are also expected to choose three explosive forwards — Andrei Svechnikov (brother of the Red Wings’ Evgeny Svechnikov), Filip Zadina and Brady Tkachuk.

Arizona, picking fifth, is likely to go defense — but will still leave the Red Wings with a highly rated prospect to draft.

Adam Boqvist, Noah Dobson, Evan Bouchard and Quinn Hughes (Michigan) are likely to be available.

■ Boqvist (5-foot-11, 170-pounds) is a Swedish offensive defenseman who is an elite puck transporter — but obviously brings concerns about lack of size.

■ Dobson (6-foot-3, 180-pounds) has risen the draft charts this season with his skating ability, powerful shot from the point, and sound defensive instincts.

■ Bouchard (6-foot-2, 193-pounds) has size, is another big right-hand shot, and scouts have raved about his leadership qualities.

■ Hughes (5-foot-10, 174-pounds) is another smallish offensive defenseman who some scouts feel is the best pure skater in this draft, and has an outstanding shot.

Coach Jeff Blashill will get an opportunity to see Hughes up close the next few weeks, as the former Wolverines standout is on the Blashill-coached Team USA at the world championships.