If you haven’t yet heard, the Detroit Red Wings learned on Tuesday evening that they will be selecting sixth overall in this year’s NHL draft. This quite literally puts the dream of seeing Jack Hughes sport the winged wheel to sleep, and also seems to take Detroit out of the running for consensus number two player Kappo Kakko. Although this might not seem ideal, there will still be some very good choices on the board when Ken Holland and the Red Wings’ brass are due to submit their pick.
There was plenty of hope that Detroit would find their “defenseman of the future” with the sixth overall pick in last year’s draft as well, but that pick was used to select the young sniper in Filip Zadina. While Zadina’s first year of professional hockey didn’t exactly feature a seamless transition, he did show flashes of brilliance both during his nine-game call up with the Red Wings and during his 56 games with the Grand Rapids Griffins. He scored 16 goals and 18 assists in the AHL, while also potting a goal and two assists with Detroit.
This year, the hope is that Detroit will again be able to find a franchise blue-liner to build the back end around. The general consensus is that the best defenseman in this draft will be Bowen Byram from the Vancouver Giants of the Western Hockey League, but most signs seem to indicate that he will be a top-five pick. After Byram, TSN’s prospect rankings show that the next best defender would be Thomas Harley from the Ontario Hockey League, but he is ranked as the #12 prospect in the draft at this point. For Detroit to reach that “low” from the number six pick would seem to be a reach, and drastically under-value their pick.
The most likely scenarios seem to see Detroit settling on a center, which could turn out to be ok in the long run, as this draft is quite top-heavy with centers. Here’s a look at some of the top candidates for the Red Wings to select with the sixth overall pick.
Center/Right Wing Dylan Cozens
2018-19 stats: 34 goals, 50 assists with the Lethbridge Hurricanes of the Western Hockey League
Standing at 6-foot-3 and 185 pounds, the 18-year old Cozens possess the ability to get to the net with the puck, and also has a lethal shot. While the defensive aspect of the game is something he needs to work on at the NHL level, Cozens could in fact be the second best center in this class.
Center/Left Wing Peyton Krebs
2018-19 stats: 19 goals, 49 assists in 68 games with the Kootenay Ice of the Western Hockey League
One of the highest rated skaters in the class, Krebs’s calling card is his overall hockey IQ. Likened to Detroit’s own Dylan Larkin in some areas, Krebs has the ability to find his teammates quite nicely. While some scouting services indicate that his shot is an area that could use some improvement, Krebs saw his goal total improve this season while playing in slightly fewer games than last season.
Center Alex Turcotte
2018-19 stats: 12 goals, 22 assists in just 16 games for the U.S. National Development Team
Although he has been hampered by injuries, Turcotte is projected as the best overall two-way center in the class. He has a wicked shot, and finds his teammates on the ice with ease. One catch with Turcotte is that he has already committed to playing at the University of Wisconsin next season, and would likely not be a contributing factor immediately.
Center/Wing Trevor Zegras
2018-19 stats: 14 goals, 26 assists in 27 games for the U.S. National Development Team
Zegras projects to be a strong two-way center who plays a physical game in the defensive zone and his skating ability is likened as one of his best tools. Possesses good play-making ability, as well.
Defenseman Bowen Byram
2018-19 stats: 26 goals, 45 assists for the Vancouver Giants of the Western Hockey League
Hey, a guy can dream… right? Byram separated himself as the best defenseman in the class this season. He has strong offensive ability from the back end and holds his own quite nicely in the defensive zone. While likely not a top three pick, if both the Colorado Avalanche and Los Angeles Kings decide to go with offense at picks four and five, Detroit could easily see the defenseman of their future fall into their laps at six.