'Real competitive kids': Red Wings brass thrilled with large draft haul
Vancouver, British Columbia — Right now, maybe some of the Red Wings’ 11 draft picks might be viewed as a bit of a reach, maybe bit of gambles. But you get the sense that if any of them reach their potential, the Wings might have hit the jackpot.
“That’s our job really,” said Tyler Wright, the Wings’ director of amateur scouting. “It’s not to pick the best player today, but who is going to be the best player at age 21, 22, and 23 foremost.
“Some of these kids might not play and that’s just the nature of the beast we deal with. But at the end of the day, we’re trying to build something with what can they bring to the table that can excite us. We’re happy with the draft. We didn’t put an emphasis on saying we’re going to continue to take defensemen or take wingers.
"We got good size, we got good people who can skate and are real competitive kids.”
The Wings took five defensemen, five forwards and a goaltender — they obtained an extra seventh-round pick from Buffalo late in the day — and came away with several players who are generally considered to have large, untapped upsides.
“The only emphasis was trying to do our homework and make sure we knew all these kids well and pick the best possible prospects we could,” general manager Steve Yzerman said. “We’re drafting kids who we hope have a lot of upside.
"I’m pleased with how it played out. In the later rounds it’s a bit more of a guessing game, and who might be there. We felt pretty good with each pick.”
Here are some highlights from the draft:
The Red Wings went with another defenseman with their first pick Saturday, selecting Antti Tuomisto, a 6-foot-4, 194-pound defenseman, early in the second round.
Like Moritz Seider, Friday’s surprise first-round selection, Tuomisto is a bit of reach by some scouting services’ opinions. Tuomisto was ranked No. 15 by NHL Central Scouting’s European skaters, and 86th overall by Eliteprospects.com.
“We all liked him, certainly Tyler had a little bit of a crush on him,” said Hakan Andersson, the Wings’ director of European scouting. “He’s a big guy, certainly can fill out, he’s a very good skater and plays with a natural bite. He’s got some physical game in him and has a real good shot.”
With their second pick in the second round, 54th overall, the Wings took center Robert Mastrosimone. A 5-10, 170-pound forward who can also play left wing, Mastrosimone had 60 points (31 goals) in 54 games with Chicago in the United States Hockey League.
Mastrosimone doesn’t have explosive speed, but has an exceptional wrist shot and is a fine stickhandler.
The Wings went with two consecutive Swedes after Mastrosimone.
With their third and last pick in the second round, the Wings took defenseman Albert Johansson, another offensive defenseman who could be considered a reach by some analysts — but was considered to have first-round talent by some, coming off an impressive second half of the season.
“Another scout said he could be the best of them all,” Andersson said of Johannson’s potential. “Mobile, smart, he has ability with the puck. He’s very skinny, but his dad is 6-3 and his two older brothers are 6-3. There’s hope he has some growing to do.”
With their third-round pick, the Wings took center Albin Grewe at No. 66 overall. Grewe was listed as a likely second-round pick by many services, but dropped to the Wings.
Potentially, if Grewe makes it to the NHL, he could be a fan favorite.
Grewe lists Brad Marchand as one of his favorite players, and plays the same abrasive style as Marchand, getting under opponents’ skin while having the offensive game to back up the trash talk.
“Very competitive kid,” Andersson said. “One interesting story is, a senior coach (in Sweden) said every time when I looked around when this kid came up, the practices, the whole intensity and physical part of the practices would go up.”
Grewe had concussion issues late last season, but returned to finish the season.
The Red Wings went back to the USHL for Round 4 (97th overall) when they selected forward Ethan Phillips. Only 5-9, 145-pounds, Phillips needs to get physically bigger, but has good attributes, namely a fine skater, good stickhandler, and is a fine defender.
In Round 5, the Red Wings went the New England prep route and selected defenseman Cooper Moore. Headed to North Dakota in the fall, Moore dominated last season at Brunswick Academy with 31 points (13 goals) in 28 games.
Moore is an elite skater and has shown the ability to dominate offensively at the prep level, but has muc to learn from a defensive aspect.
The Wings made an interesting pick with the first of two picks in Round 6.
They selected 6-6 center Elmer Soderblom, of Frolunda (Sweden). Soderblom is a 220-pound big man who doesn’t have the speed, quickness or shiftiness of many of the sub-6-foot players that were picked Saturday.
But Soderblom does have size, reach, can stickhandle, and is good at driving to the net.
“He’s huge,” Andersson said. “At the same time, he’s a good skater. He’s actually suffering from being 6-foot-6 at age 17.
"Very few guys are fully coordinated at that time. He’s got very good skill for a big man.”
With their other sixth-round pick, the Wings went with another Swede, defenseman Gustav Berglund.
Playing and progressing through three Frolunda teams in Sweden, Berglund had 13 goals and 29 points in 37 games.
“He had a rough time when he moved to Frolunda, living on his own, and he didn’t eat properly and was tired, couldn’t train as hard,” Andersson said.
“They had to straighten him out and now the coach says he’s the most improved player on the Frolunda junior team.”