Here are some late-round gems the Red Wings could consider in NHL Draft

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Detroit — It was interesting listening to general manager Steve Yzerman during his season-ending press conference and his optimism regarding the future of prospect Elmer Soderblom.

The development of the 6-foot-8 Soderblom, a 2019 sixth-round pick, the 159th player drafted overall, has been a topic of great enthusiasm among the Wings' front office and fans.

"Based on what he’s done the last couple of years, his progress, we’re pretty excited about it,” Yzerman said. 

What made it doubly important is the fact any organization, not just the Wings, need some of their late-round picks — basically anything past the first round —  to succeed for the team to be successful in the long term.

Just depending on first-round picks isn't good enough. It's going to take too long — and let's face it, no organization is going to have success with first-round picks over a long period of time.

Red Wings prospect Elmer Soderblom was a sixth-round find for Detroit in 2019.

So, you need some of the later-round picks to come through.

“Sure, (Soderblom's) a pleasant surprise, but we need some surprises within our drafts," Yzerman said. "We can’t just expect to be picking in the top 10 every year and get a good player. It’s going to take a long time to build a team that way. We need some of these players that are second- through seventh-rounders to make it.”

After last year's NHL Entry Draft, Yzerman talked about how he didn't even like the idea of trading those late-round picks in any sort of deal, thereby potentially trading away a potential Red Wings star.

“I feel every draft pick, regardless of a first-round or a seventh-round, is hope. It’s hope for Henrik Zetterberg or Pavel Datsyuk or Sergei Fedorov or Nicklas Lidstrom, or you name it, regardless of the pick. I hate giving up picks," Yzerman said.

When this year's Entry Draft takes place, July 7-8 in Montreal, the Wings will be searching for those unearthed gems on the second day, when rounds 2 through 7 take place.

The Wings currently have 10  picks in the draft, including two in the second round — their own, plus Washington's, via the Anthony Mantha trade — and three in the fourth round (their own, plus Vegas' and Colorado's via trades).

The draft is never an exact science, and even more so after the first round.

Here are a few names that could be available for the Wings — more likely in the second and third rounds — who fit what the Wings generally look for:

Elias Solomonsson, defenseman, 6-foot-1, 185 pounds, Skelleftea AIK (Sweden): The Red Wings wouldn't mind stashing a defensive prospect who is a right-handed shot, and Solomonsson is projected to be drafted early in the second round. Solomonsson is further ahead offensively than defensively, and for his size, he's a good puck transporter. 

Kasper Kulonummi, defenseman, 5-foot-11, 178 pounds, Jokerit Jr. (Finland): The Wings have mined Finland well in recent years, and Kulonummi could be a second- or third-round selection. Kulonummi is a great skater and is dangerous with the puck on the stick. He has good speed and is effective in transition. Still raw defensively, Kulonummi needs to get physically stronger.

Jack Hughes, center,  5-11, 170 pounds, Northeastern: The Wings weren't lucky enough to draft the Jack Hughes that was drafted first overall in 2019 and is developing into a star with New Jersey. Maybe they'll get a chance to get this Jack Hughes, the son of Montreal general manager Kent Hughes. Jack is a real good puck-handler and is a heady player who knows where to be on the ice. But Hughes doesn't have elite speed and that, plus his size, could keep him from being drafted earlier.

Noah Ostlund, center, 5-11, 163 pounds, Djurgarden (Sweden): Some mock drafts have Ostlund sneaking into the first round. Ostlund isn't big, but he's an elite puck-handler and passer, and he competes well on the ice. Another player who isn't big physically, Ostlund's shot needs work, too.

Adam Engstrom, defenseman, 6-2, 185 pounds, Djurgarden (Sweden): Engstrom has good size, can make a strong outlet pass and has a decent shot.  Engstrom is one of those guys who does quite a few things well, but doesn't stand out enough in any specific area. He might well be one of those players who develops over time in Sweden.

Cole Knuble, right wing, 5-9, 175 pounds, Fargo (USHL): The Wings have drafted several players with ties to the organization, and Knuble fits the profile. His dad Mike Knuble is a former player in the Wings' organization and currently is an assistant coach with the minor-league affiliate Grand Rapids Griffins. Knuble has high-end speed and never takes a shift off. The size might be a drawback, along with offensive production.

Seamus Casey, defenseman, 5-9, 162 pounds, United States National Team Development Program (USNTDP): From the Plymouth Township-based USA program, Casey was a top-four defenseman this season and is committed to play at Michigan. Born and bred in Miami, Casey can run a power play and can skate the puck out of trouble. His lack of size is a concern as he moves into pro hockey.

Matyas Sapovaliv, center, 6-3, 183 pounds, Saginaw (OHL): Sapovaliv could be a shrewd pick in the second round. He has decent size, scouts feel his vision on the ice is high-end, and the Wings have seen a lot of him up I-75 in Saginaw. Sapovaliv isn't an elite skater, but if he works on that part of his game, there's a lot to like in other areas.

Elias Pettersson, defenseman, 6-foot-1, 185 pounds, Orebro (Sweden): Plays with a little bit of an edge, and with his skating ability, he's able to cover a lot of ice. Further ahead defensively, Pettersson doesn't have eye-popping skill offensively and it's at that end of the ice that he'll need to progress.

Adam Ingram, center, 6-foot-2, 165 pounds, Youngstown (USHL): Ingram was on the way to being a possible first-round pick but had a poor second half of the season, which will likely get him selected a round or two lower. There's no question Ingram is an elite passer and knows how to score goals. It's his  lack of foot speed and tendency to stay on the perimeter that'll make Ingram a project. He needs to get stronger, too. Ingram will play at St. Cloud State next season.

Ludwig Persson, left wing, 6 feet, 180 pounds, Frolunda Jr. (Sweden): Scouts love Persson's instincts, his ability to make plays on the power play, and a heavy shot. He's been a productive player for Frolunda. But Persson doesn't have elite speed and his size is average, which makes him a project at this point.

Dylan Silverstein, goaltender, 6 feet, 180 pounds, USNTDP: Teams usually like to draft one goaltender every draft, and Silverstein might be a good acquisition in the middle rounds. Silverstein is headed to Boston College, after an inconsistent season in Plymouth Township. Silverstein isn't big physically, but he makes up for it with athleticism and understands how to challenge shooters.

Twitter: @tkulfan