Red Wings chances in the draft Lottery

The Red Wings have just six games remaining in the 2018-19 NHL season. Unfortunately, there won’t be an opportunity for the post-season. While the top eight teams from each conference begin to prepare for the playoffs, the bottom 15 clubs get ready for the NHL draft lottery.

When it Happens

This season’s lottery is scheduled for April 9 at the Canadian Broadcasting Company building in downtown Toronto. The televised show that reveals the picks begins at 8 p.m. ET, about an hour after the actual drawing concludes. In the past, the lottery was held during the playoffs, but this season it will take place just three days after the conclusion of the regular season. The lottery is only to determine the order of the first 15 picks. No players will be selected until the official 2019 NHL Draft on June 21-22 in Vancouver.

How it Works

The draft lottery uses the same kind of machine used for multimillion-dollar drawings, with actual lottery balls. League commissioner Gary Bettman was with the NBA when it began using the draft lottery concept in 1985. He implemented the NHL draft lottery in 1995, with the intent to discourage teams from trying to finish last to earn the first draft selection for the next season.

Until 2012 (except for the post-lockout draft in 2015) only the bottom-ranked five teams had a shot at the first overall pick. Beginning in 2013, every team that missed the post-season will have an opportunity to choose first. Three drawings will occur on the evening of April 9. The first ball drawn determines who gets first pick. The next draw is for pick number two, and the third will be chosen at random. The 12 remaining teams will then be seeded fourth through 15th according to their finishing records.

The team with the worst record is guaranteed a selection in the top four, but unlike the traditional, reverse-order there is far less guaranteed benefit to “tanking” the latter part of the campaign. The worst overall team has an 18.5 percent chance at first pick, the team that finishes 30th has a chance of 13.5 percent, and the third-worst has a probability of 11.5 percent.

A Pair of Forwards Ahead of the Field

With the Wings currently sitting third from the bottom, they have an 11.5% shot at the first overall pick. Is there a clear front-runner among the young prospects this season? Yes! There are two that stand well ahead of the rest of the field. If Detroit lands a top-two pick, it is unlikely that they would go after someone outside of the top two. Rankings from 20 sources* were used to compile the results listed below.

Jack Hughes – C, U.S. U18 (NTDP), 5-foot-10, 168 pounds

Hughes was the highest rated prospect in 18 of the 20 rankings lists reviewed. He has been commended on his hockey sense and vision on the ice. He has impressive edge work and an explosive first step. While size seems to be less important in today’s game than even a decade ago, there is still speculation as to his ability to perform at the top level with his current frame. Regardless of this concern, it is a safe bet that Hughes will be the prize claimed by the winner of the 2019 NHL Draft Lottery.

Kaapo Kakko – RW, TPS Turku (SM-Liiga), 6-foot-2, 194 pounds

Kakko has narrowed the gap between himself and Hughes throughout the season. He is a graceful forward with a large frame and impressive puck-protection skills partnered with a lethal shot. Kakko has dominated Finland’s top pro league this season and is now just three goals shy of tying Aleksander Barkov’s SM-Liiga record for goals-scored among under-18 prospects. This, too, is a safe bet for whichever franchise finishes second in the lottery.

Top Options for Third through Sixth Pick

Based on current standings, the most likely final position for the Wings will be 29th. The worst-case scenario for draft order would be sixth. While there are varying opinions of the players once you look past Hughes and Kakko, there is still plenty of talent to choose from. The following outlines the remaining players appearing near the top of the experts’ projections:

Dylan Cozens – C, Lethbridge (WHL), 6-foot-3, 185 pounds

Ranked between fourth and eighth on most lists, with an average seeding of 4.70, Cozens is a forward who plays both speedy and physical. He can play center or wing and makes things difficult for opponents in all three zones. Detroit could use another big body who won’t hesitate to take the puck into traffic to create scoring opportunities.

Vasily Podkolzin – RW, SKA-Neva (VHL), 6-foot-1, 190 pounds

Ranked as high as second on some lists, and receiving an average rating of 5.40, Podkolzin is likely the most intriguing option outside of the first two picks for Detroit. He is a Russian-trained player with game-breaking skills and an abrasive style the fans in Hockeytown are sure to welcome. Many scouts have agreed that Podkozin will be an effective first-line forward in the NHL’s near-future.

Kirby Dach – C, Saskatoon (WHL), 6-foot-3, 195 pounds

Dach ranks well inside the top-ten players on 19 of 20 lists (11th on the other). His average ranking is 5.95, and he is a big body that is similar to a young Joe Thornton. Dach has a knack for creating space in tight quarters, due to his vision and creativity. If the Wings opt to strengthen their depth at the center position, Cozens and Dach appear to be the best options on the market.

Bowen Byram – D, Vancouver (WHL), 6-foot-1, 194 pounds

Arguably the best defenseman available for the draft, Byram plays heavy minutes and a strong two-way game. He currently leads the WHL rearguards with 22 goals this season. More than one analyst has named Byram Detroit’s best option should they fall outside the top five picks.

Peyton Krebs – C, Kootenay (WHL), 5-foot-11, 180 pounds

Krebs will have a chance to improve his draft stock playing for Canada at the April under-18 world championship. He is more of a playmaker than goal-scorer, and he has a good reaction time and acceleration to create space and time with the puck. A strong showing in April could put Krebs in the discussion with Dach and Cozens.

Trevor Zegras – C, U.S. U18 (NTDP), 6-foot, 166 pounds

Zegras is a playmaker on a line centered by Jack Hughes. He has soft hands and an ability to create chemistry with new linemates very quickly.

Matthew Boldy – LW, U.S. U18 (NTDP), 6-foot-1, 187 pounds

Some have penned Boldy as the draft-eligible forward with the highest hockey IQ. There is a distinct possibility that the Wings could take him with as high as the third pick. He is committed to Boston College next year and listed as a potential future candidate for a Selke Trophy or two.

Alex Turcotte – C, U.S. U18 (NTDP), 5-foot-11, 194 pounds

Compared to Nico Hischier, 2017’s first-overall pick, Turcotte is a two-way center who is a top student of the game with the potential to become an elite center. His father Alfie Turcotte is a former NHL player.

Philip Broberg – D, AIK (Allsvenskan), 6-foot-3, 203 pounds

This large-framed blue-liner is as fast as he is physical. He has the potential to be one of the top rearguards in his class, but he needs to reduce his uncalculated risks.

Raphael Lavoie – RW, Halifax (QMJHL), 6-foot-4, 198 pounds

Lavoie has been described as unselfish, fast, skilled, and smart. Bigger forwards seldom receive all four labels. He seems to have no problem sharing the spotlight and the puck when shooting is not the best option.


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*20 draft rankings utilized consisted of: ISS, Larry Fisher (THW), Future Considerations, Hockey Prospect, Scott Wheeler (The Atlantic), Sam Consentino (Sportsnet), Chris Peter (ESPN), Cam Robinson (Dobber Prospects), Prospect Pipeline, NA Central Scouting, Ryan Kennedy (The Hockey News), Draft Buzz Hockey, Korey Pronman (The Athletic), McKeens Hockey, Bob McKenzie (TSN), Hannah Stuart (The Score), Craig Button (TSN), Jeremy David (Canucks Army), Will Scouch, The Draft Analysis.

Written by Staff Writer

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