The 2017 National League Hockey Draft is set as the Detroit Red Wings will pick ninth in the entry-level draft for the world’s top hockey prospects.
Last year, the team made a big splash during the draft when they actually traded down from the No. 16 pick with Arizona, giving the Coyotes their selection along with the contract of Pavel Datsyuk, who departed for Russia after the 2015-16 season. Detroit got a pair of draft picks in that deal, including the No. 20 selection, which they used to draft defenseman Dennis Cholowski.
With a top-10 pick available, who will the Wings take? Here’s a look at three players they should consider selecting.
1. CALE MAKAR, D | BROOKS BANDITS (AJHL)
After drafting a defenseman first in 2016, the Red Wings appear to be heading down that route once again, which makes Cale Makar a perfect first-round pick. The 18-year-old is the top-ranked North American defenseman and is ranked ninth among all skaters. Ninth happens to be the Red Wings pick, so if he remains on the draft board then this pick could very well happen.
Makar is a fast skater and is very good in transition, which makes him a dangerous offensive player as well. This season he had 75 points for the Bandits in 54 appearances. His right-handed shooting ability has caught the attention of scouts and has helped contribute to his rise up the prospect rankings.
2. JUUSO VALIMAKI, D | TRI-CITY AMERICANS (WHL)
A native of Finland, Juuso Valimaki is the second-highest ranked North American defenseman on the draft board. In the mid-term rankings, Valimaki was ranked higher than Makar, but fell down a spot in the final rankings.
In the WHL, the Finnish defenseman had 61 points in 60 games. He can definitely contribute offensively and is a very intelligent player on both ends of the ice. The Wings could very well pick him, especially if Makar goes early than expected.
3. KLIM KOSTIN, LW/C | DYNAMO MOSCOW (KHL)
The Red Wings director of amateur scouting, Tyler Wright, told the Detroit Free Press that they would not pass up on any player available, regardless of position.
“We have a pretty good list of guys we have a shot at,” Wings director of amateur scouting Tyler Wright said. “It’s a cliché, but we’re not going to pass on a good player because we have an abundance of wingers in our system. We will take the best player we think is available at that point in time – position is not going to be a factor with our first pick.”
Thus, a forward may be the first pick, and Kostin would be a great addition to the Wings system. Despite missing most of his past season due to injury, Kostin is still the top-ranked European prospect in this year’s draft. His current team, Dynamo Moscow, is a member of the KHL, which is Russia’s top division. He is going to be a big time player in the NHL one day as he holds the puck control and skating ability that scouts are looking for.
Kostin has been pegged as the Red Wings projected selection by the Bleacher Report.