It may not feel like it, given the draft lottery results are still fresh, but the NHL’s offseason is about to pick up speed, with most of the league now wiped out. from the playoffs and the draft at just five weeks.
A major upheaval has begun in Toronto. Potential chaos is creeping into Arizona. And even though the Red Wings’ offseason doesn’t seem to be This seismic level, it is still extremely important for Steve Yzerman.
Fans clearly feel this importance, so much so that we had to split the mailbag – naturally related to the draft and the potential commercial market – into two parts, starting today with a draft-focused edition, and continuing more later this week on potential shopping and other off-season business.
Let’s cut to the chase.
Note: some questions have been slightly edited for clarity and length
Samuel Honzek is a guy who quietly fits the Yzerman mould. Size, shooting, skating, competition, character, 200 footer and 56 points in 43 games with the Vancouver Giants – if he had played all season he would have scored 85 points. Where do you think he is on the Wings radar? -Joseph F.
I have to believe he’s squarely on it, for all the reasons Joseph laid out above. For some reason, Honzek’s name probably hasn’t garnered as much attention as some of his peers in this class, but it’s easy to see the appeal of his tools – tall wingers who can score, competing and trusting in all situations is a precious commodity. For what it’s worth, he was 12th in Corey Pronman’s last ranking, which is exactly Detroit’s lineup.
Throw in an observation of Yzerman in Honzek’s last two playoff games, according to The Province — which is, of course, to be expected from an involved GM, and doesn’t necessarily mean anything other than he’s on their radar — and you certainly have a name to keep in mind for the next month.
How should the top eight play before deciding a defender is the best option at No. 9? -Bryan P.
Not so madly. Red Wings fans are stuck at the No. 9 forward position — and some for both first-round picks — for understandable reasons given the organization’s lack of hopes. But once the big five (Connor Bedard, Adam Fantilli, Leo Carlsson, Matvei Michkov and Will Smith) and maybe Ryan Leonard are taken, I think you can definitely make the case for a defender.
I expect Austrian RHD David Reinbacher to be taken out of the draw by Detroit pick but even after his departure Rögle RHD Tom Willander was one of the big names in the U18 World Championship for Sweden and could be candidate. The same could be said of his compatriot, Axel Sandin-Pellikka, although to me Willander looks more like the Red Wings guy, standing 6-foot-1 with top-notch skating and all-around ability.
Subscribers have already read me the riot act for suggesting Russian LHD Dmitri Simashev as Detroit’s second first-round pick, but I’ll mention him again, too, as a defender whose tools are easy to love.
But even limiting things to the right side, there’s a case for a “D,” and that starts with place value. The top four defensemen are hard to find in the NHL, especially on the right side. That’s why Detroit just landed such a loot for Vancouver’s Filip Hronek – who, by the way, would be among the teams likely to snatch Willander or Sandin-Pellikka between the Red Wings’ picks at nine and 17. More j I watched Willander, the more I liked him, as a defenseman who could pick up the pace with his feet, get the puck down the ice, and also defend the run. His use of the power play with Team Sweden showed his confidence in his offense, and he rewarded it by scoring three goals and eight points in seven games.
We’re talking about a guy who was relied on for 30 minutes on the ice in the U18 gold medal game and 28 minutes for Rögle in the Swedish U20 championship. He’s a valuable player in a prime position, and for me, one who shouldn’t be a hard sell at No.9.
Do you believe the Red Wings are using their capital to go up in the first round? — Jeff Little Bear
I became a bit of a broken record with that, but top 10 NHL Draft trades are rare. They are so rare, in fact, that I don’t even commit to them.
But there were so many versions of Jeff’s question in the mail this month that I just couldn’t skip the topic — it was, by far, the number one question from Red Wings fans. And it’s not hard to see why: Detroit has two first-round picks to work with, but it also has the highly unusual situation of owning three consecutive second-round picks – 41, 42 and 43.
Frankly, I would have a hard time seeing Detroit making those three picks in a row. However, for a team that also needs to add to the NHL level, they might choose to try and turn one of those picks into a “now” player.
But if they want to try to progress in the first round, they certainly have the capital to try their luck. And I can see them doing just that – that’s what they did the last time they had multiple first-round picks, in 2021, when they sent picks 23, 48, and 138 (a first , a second and a fifth round) in Dallas to pass to Sebastian Cossa.
Historically, this move is more likely to be a trade from No. 17 – which could allow Detroit to walk away with two top-15 picks, perhaps grabbing that RHD top four and top six forward. in the same class.
Which teams do you think would be open to the trade and what should the Wings add to make the move easier? -Rick P.
Rick came up with the natural follow-up to Jeff’s question – and I must say I surprised myself a bit with the answer.
Looking at the draft order between Detroit’s two picks, there are a few teams that just don’t seem up to par. St. Louis already has three first-round picks, so it’s hard to see the Blues coming back from 10. Vancouver at No. 11 has already traded Detroit’s pick 17 and one of those seconds – it would be odd if they now decide to trade 11 for that same deck. Arizona at No. 12 could be an option with the Coyotes’ second-round pick, but it’s worth noting that Arizona is already expected to make eight second-round picks between 2024 and 2025. Will they really be that motivated to do so? add another? And Buffalo at 13 could have the biggest under-23 talent pool in the league. They should prioritize quality over quantity at this stage.
That already takes you to No. 14, where the Penguins could be an attractive option. On the one hand, you’d expect the Penguins to be more focused on maximizing Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, whether that means taking a prospect with a (relatively) quick path to the NHL or trading the pick for a current player. . On the other hand, it is not yet known who will lead the team, and with several analytically-minded candidates in the mixit’s possible that the new GM wants to restock an agricultural system that has become virtually sterile in recent years.
If so, dropping just a few spots to clinch a second round could be fine and potentially allow Detroit to walk away with two players they might have considered at No. 9. You could make a similar case about Nashville. at No. 15 — although they’ve already started racking up a prime war chest, and by then the Red Wings should really like a certain player to pay for a second round for a two-point jump.
The potential fit that stuck out to me the most, though, is the one that breaks my rule of not engaging in top-10 trade talks: Philadelphia at No. 7. The Flyers are in the early stages of a rebuild. They have just hired a new general manager, Daniel Brière, and a new president, Keith Jones. And they don’t have a second-round pick in either of the next two drafts. If Philadelphia’s top targets are gone, then could they be interested in the rare top-10 move, trading the No. 7 pick for Detroit’s ninth and 41st picks?
Philadelphia would get the better end of pure value, Dom Luszczyszyn’s model, but that could put the Red Wings within reach of Leonard, Reinbacher, Slovakian forward Dalibor Dvorsky, or maybe even Michkov — all of whom might otherwise be gone the time Detroit passes on the clock.
Again, trades in this range are so rare that I hesitate to even suggest it. But when you look at all of the Red Wings’ potential business partners, the Flyers really stand out the most.
How do you feel about Yzerman making all of the Wings’ draft picks? No trades, no moves, just take the best available player on each pick and walk out with 10 new prospects. Is it really This bad shot for where are the Wings currently? — Keith
Here, however, is the flip side of all of the above.
I think it would be surprising to see the Red Wings make three consecutive second-round picks. But for Keith, that doesn’t mean it would necessarily be a bad thing.
Detroit’s farm system has deepened since Yzerman’s arrival, but that doesn’t mean the Red Wings suddenly have too many prospects. They are still lacking in top-tier talent, and while players like that are unlikely to be found beyond the top of the first round, it can happen – but only if you make those choices. So from that perspective, no, that wouldn’t be a bad thing.
Still, I think the Red Wings are deep enough in this rebuild that they can afford to avoid the “more kicks in the box” logic and pursue the most splashy avenues this offseason – than that. means swapping, or even trading, the 17th pick for a proven young goalscorer who could help now and in the future.
It’s not a guarantee that the player is there, mind you – even some of the more attractive names on Athleticism‘s trade board have their downsides – and certainly, that’s easier said than done. As Keith alludes to, they don’t need to push.
But if the Red Wings want to make a move for their guy, whether it’s a draft pick or a current player, they certainly have the capital to make it happen.
(Steve Yzerman top photo: Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)