History shows Red Wings could land impact player at No. 4

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Detroit — Still disappointed about the Red Wings dropping to fourth overall in the NHL Draft Lottery?

The last time the Red Wings picked in the fourth spot, in 1983, they happened to choose a young player who went on to bigger and better things.

A Hall-of-Fame career, incidentally.

That would be current general manager Steve Yzerman.

Cale Makar

“It was a long time ago, it doesn’t resonate with me anymore,” Yzerman said Friday after the draft lottery ended. “I was picked fourth overall. I had no idea going into the draft what my NHL career was going to be like. I had no expectations for myself. Things worked out.

“Whether you're picking first, second, or third — picking first gives you the best odds maybe of getting a player, but at end of the day you look at the history of the draft and you’re going to see great players come from all different spots in the draft.

“The higher you pick, the more you increase your odds.”

More: OctoPulse podcast: Ted Kulfan's reaction after Red Wings fall to fourth in draft lottery

In recent years, that fourth spot has produced a string of exciting young players who are among the NHL’s best.

Defenseman Cale Makar (Colorado, 2017) is the likely Rookie of the Year winner this year, and forwards Mitch Marner (Toronto, 2015) and Brady Tkachuk (Ottawa, 2018) are key pieces in their organization.

So, the Wings definitely have an opportunity to land an impactful player at No. 4 overall.

“We’re going to get a great prospect,” Yzerman said. “How good of a player he becomes? Time will tell. The system is what it is. It’s the same for all the teams. We’re going to get a great prospect and we’re going to do everything we can to develop him and maybe we will get lucky.”

Here is the list of last 20 No. 4 picks overall in the Entry Draft.

2019 — Bowen Byram, Colorado, defenseman: The offensive defenseman hasn’t yet made it to the NHL, but many scouts believe the Avalanche have another exciting, premier piece to add to an already impressive collection of young talent.

2018 — Brady Tkachuk, Ottawa, left wing: Tkachuk has scored 22 and 21 goals his first two NHL seasons and already is regarded among the best power forwards in the NHL.

2017 — Cale Makar, Colorado, defenseman: The likely Calder Trophy (best rookie) winner this season, the offensive defenseman had 50 points (38 assists) in 57 games and electrified the NHL with his skating and vision on the ice.

2016 — Jesse Puljujarvi, Edmonton, right wing: Sure has looked like a miss for the Oilers. Puljujarvi spent this season in Finland, and with 17 goals in 139 NHL games, the 6-foot-4 winger has been a major disappointment.

2015 — Mitch Marner, Toronto, right wing: Simply put, one of the more dazzling and exciting players in the NHL. The Leafs got a star with this selection, a hometown boy who has had a 94-point season in his young career.

2014 — Sam Bennett, Calgary, center: Bennett hasn’t been the offensive player the Flames probably suspected he’d be — his career high is 18 goals — but he’s been serviceable player who plays with grit and adds depth to a strong lineup.

2013 — Seth Jones, Nashville (now with Columbus), defenseman: Originally selected by Nashville — who traded 2010 No. 4 pick Ryan Johansen for Jones — Jones is now in the discussion for the Norris Trophy (best defenseman) every season. He’s an elite defenseman.

2012 — Griffin Reinhart, New York Islanders, defenseman: Reinhart just didn’t pan out. He wound up playing only 37 games between the Islanders and Edmonton and this past season was in Europe. A big miss here.

2011 — Adam Larsson, New Jersey (now with Edmonton), defenseman: Maybe he hasn’t reached the stardom some scouts felt Larsson would achieve, but Larsson has been a productive defenseman who was traded for Taylor Hall in 2016.

2010 — Ryan Johansen, Columbus (now with Nashville), center: The Blue Jackets traded Johansen for Seth Jones (2013 No. 4 overall), but he hasn’t achieved the level of stardom many expected. Johansen’s career high is 71 points, and he’s been particularly disappointing this season (36 points).

2009 — Evander Kane, Atlanta (now San Jose), left wing: An annual 20- to-30-goal scorer who has carved out a productive career for himself. The fact Kane has reached 30 goals only twice is a bit of a disappointment, but any team would want to add him to their roster.

2008 — Alex Pietrangelo, St. Louis, defenseman: One of the best defensemen in the NHL, a consummate leader, and a big piece in the Blues’ Stanley Cup win last season. And he’s an unrestricted free agent this summer. If the Red Wings could draft a player of Pietrangelo’s pedigree, they’d be happy.

2007 — Thomas Hickey, Los Angeles (now New York Islanders), defenseman: Hickey was a surprise pick on draft day, and maybe he hasn’t reached the offensive potential expected, but he’s been a regular in the Islanders’ lineup for six seasons.

Center Stephen Weiss (90), the No. 4 overall pick by the Florida Panthers in the 2001 NHL draft, played two seasons with the Red Wings from 2013-15.

2006 — Nicklas Backstrom, Washington, center: Has teamed with Alex Ovechkin to form one of the most dynamic and dangerous offensive tandems in league history. With much of the focus on Ovechkin’s goal-scoring ability, Backstrom’s set-up skills tend to be underestimated.

2005 — Benoit Pouliot, Minnesota, left wing: Lasted 625 games in the NHL, with 130 goals and 263 points, and seven teams. His career-best was a 19-goal season with Edmonton in 2014-15.

2004 — Andrew Ladd, Carolina (now N.Y. Islanders), left wing: Ladd has played 950 games in his career, won two Stanley Cups, and has been a premier offensive player for many years, At 34, he’s at the tail end of a long, productive career.

2003 — Nikolai Zherdev, Columbus, right wing: Played 421 games with three teams, and scored a career-high 27 goals in 2005-06, but Zherdev never fulfilled the big expectations.

2002 — Joni Pitkanen, Philadelphia, defenseman: A nasty heel injury ended Pitkanen’s career in Carolina, having played 535 games with three teams. Solid, but unspectacular, offensive defenseman.

2001 — Stephen Weiss, Florida, center: Weiss ended his career with a thud as a Red Wing, but before then, Weiss was a valuable player in Florida. Played 732 games, scoring 423 points.

2000 — Rostislav Klesla, Columbus, defenseman: Played 659 games in his career with Columbus and the then-Phoenix Coyotes. He was a steady defenseman who never starred, but forged an effective career.


Twitter: @tkulfan