'Good day': Red Wings find more value in NHL Draft
Detroit — Teams rarely are disappointed after a draft. Usually, they’re giddy with excitement, giddy with what the future could hold.
After this particular NHL Entry Draft, which the Red Wings viewed as extremely important in their rebuild, count the Detroit organization beyond giddy.
Saturday’s haul — complemented by Friday’s drafting of forwards Filip Zadina and Joe Veleno — should give the organization a nice infusion of talent.
“Today was just as important as yesterday,” said Tyler Wright, the Wings’ director of amateur scouting. “We had a good day again.”
Wright said it was important for the organization to add skill in this draft — speed and skill are vital in today’s NHL — and he felt the Wings accomplished that with their 10 picks (they traded a sixth-round pick to Columbus for the Blue Jackets’ fifth-round pick in 2019).
After seeing Zadina and Veleno essentially drop into their laps Friday, the Wings opened Saturday with two other players falling into their clutches to begin Round 2.
Forward Jonatan Berggren (No. 33 overall) and defenseman Jared McIsaac (No. 36) — a Halifax teammate of Zadina — both were projected to be late first-round picks, but fell into Saturday’s portion of the draft.
Berggren is a 5-foot-11, 183-pound right wing who scouts feel could turn into a dangerous two-way player — capable of big numbers offensively, while also dogged defensively.
Berggren needs to gain strength — he’s too small right now — but is being compared with Nashville’s Viktor Arvidsson, who has evolved into a premier NHL player.
“Real speedy forward, great intensity, and he has a good feel for the net,” said Hakan Andersson, the Red Wings’ European scout. “We’re happy to have him for sure.”
Berggren scored 18 goals and had 57 points playing junior hockey in Sweden last season, where he's expected to stay for another year or two.
Berggren had several meetings with the Wings during the combine, but wasn’t sure he’d be picked by the organization.
“It was a shock, amazing,” Berggren said. “Detroit is one of the my favorite clubs. It’s amazing.”
Berggren is excited to be part of the Red Wings’ rebuild.
“To have a new start now, it’ll be fun to be part of it,” Berggren said.
McIsaac (6-1, 194) isn’t flashy but nearly every scouting service has called him a safe, steady defender who was largely considered a late first-round pick.
“Steady, hard-nosed player, skates well, plays in all situations,” Wright said of McIsaac. “He’s a good complementary pick to the mixture of kids we got. We liked what he brings to the table.”
There’s a belief McIsaac has more of an offensive upside — he had nine goals and 47 points in Halifax (QMJHL) — but he plays a physical game, and can transport the puck.
“I’m a solid two-way defenseman and puck mover,” said McIsaac, talking about his style of play. “Worry about my end of the rink first, and then jump into the offense and control the play. I’m not afraid to mix it up.
“My main strength is the skating. When I’m skating effectively, I’m able to jump into the rush.”
McIsaac met with the Red Wings in Buffalo during the scouting combine, and felt positive about the relationship.
“I had pretty good feeling it might be Detroit (today),” McIsaac said. “I’m very happy.”
In Round 3, the Red Wings took West Bloomfield’s Alec Regula (London, OHL) with the first pick at 67th overall, then added defenseman Seth Barton at No. 81 and goalie Jesper Eliasson at No. 84.
Regula (6-4, 200) had seven goals and 18 assists in 67 games with the Knights. A great skater, and covers a lot of ice, Regula needs to fill out physically.
His father, Chet, has been the team dentist of the Red Wings, Lions and Tigers.
“It’s an awesome feeling,” said Regula, who won a state championship with Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook-Kingswood High his freshman year. “They’re my favorite team growing up.
“I’m very familiar with the program.”
Wright was impressed with Regula’s interview during the draft combine, and his progression as a player.
“He’s kind of late bloomer,” Wright said. “Obviously he has a history with the Red Wings, with the family. He’s driven, had a good year in London playing with (Evan) Bouchard (a first-round pick of Edmonton).”
The Red Wings selected a Dallas-area native, forward Ryan O’Reilly, with their fourth-round selection.
Headed to the University of Denver, O’Reilly is a power forward (6-2, 201) who played a year in Novi for the Little Caesars youth program before advancing to the United States Hockey League (USHL).
The Red Wings added a second goaltender in Round 6, getting Swedish goalie Victor Brattstrom.
At 6-5, 198, Brattstrom, 20, has the size and athleticism that is important in the position these days, and he had a .919 save percentage playing at Allsvenskan.
The Wings wanted to pick at least one goaltender, but Eliasson and Brattstrom were too tantilizing to pass on.
“They’re great workers,” Andersson said. “We’re hoping we have two good goalie prospects.”
The Wings closed out the day taking Finnish forward Otto Kivenmaki in the seventh round.
Kivenmaki scored 11 goals and 37 points playing junior in Finland, but at 5-8, 140, size is an issue.
“He’s very small, but he’s skilled,” Andersson said. “He has hockey sense for sure. In later rounds you can go different directions, but we felt he had a lot of talent.”