The 2022 NHL Draft is just two days away and Detroit Red Wings GM Steve Yzerman will have a very important decision to make when his team is on the clock with the No. 8 overall pick in the first round.
But as the draft moves on, Yzerman, and other general managers around the league, will have to weigh the pros and cons of selecting Russian players as the war in Ukraine has thrown a major wrench in the scouting process.
On Tuesday, Yzerman spoke to reporters during his pre-draft press conference about just that.
Steve Yzerman talks about ‘uncertainty' of drafting Russian players
During the presser, Steve Yzerman admitted that evaluating Russian prospects has been extra difficult during this cycle and that there is an “uncertaintly” about drafting them.
“Russian players were hard to assess and evaluate because it was difficult early to get in there and then you weren’t getting in there at all, or going there,” Yzerman said Tuesday. “There’s always the usual concerns, and throw in just the uncertainty of what’s going on in Russia and a little bit of uncertainty as to what players can and can’t do — will they be available now or any time in the future. It adds just another level of uncertainty to the whole drafting of Russian players.”
After dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic for the past two years, Yzerman said that he and his staff are much more prepared for the 2022 draft than they have been.
“(We have) a little bit more familiarity with all the players,” Yzerman said. “March and April are really important times, we’re all excited about the U18s and watching these kids in the playoffs, and everybody shut down so we missed an important part of the season two years ago. Last year, some of the kids didn’t even play, it was really challenging. This year it was somewhat a return to normalcy.”
Here is the full press conference for your listening pleasure.