November 31-in-31: Detroit Red Wings

Nick Richard

2020-11-11

The 31-in-31 Summer Series is an annual event here at DobberProspects! Every day in November we will be bringing you a complete breakdown of a team’s draft and insights into their off-season movements thus far. Following this up, the December 31-in-31 Series will dive into every team’s prospect depth charts with fantasy insights and implications for the upcoming seasons. Check back often, because we plan on filling your hockey withdrawal needs until the season begins!

******************

Expectations were low for the rebuilding Red Wings heading into the 2019-2020 season, and it became clear early on that they were going to be in the running for an opportunity to select potential franchise-altering talent, Alexis Lafreniere, with the first overall pick. Detroit finished the season in last place, and that misfortune carried over to the draft lottery, as they fell to fourth overall despite having the best odds at the number one pick.

Steve Yzerman got to work shaping the 2020-2021 Red Wings’ roster in August, signing restricted free agent Robby Fabbri to a two-year contract carrying a cap hit of $2.95 million. The 24-year-old Fabbri put up 31 points in 52 games after being acquired from St. Louis last season, and Detroit will once again look for him to contribute as a secondary scorer. The team also retained Sam Gagner on a one-year deal worth $850k and he will compete for a depth spot in the lineup when training camp opens.

The team made another pair of moves prior to the draft, acquiring veteran defenceman Marc Staal, along with a 2021 second-round pick from the New York Rangers in exchange for future considerations,  while also buying out the remaining three years of Justin Abdelkader’s contract. The Red Wings also decided not to tender qualifying offers to Madison Bowey, Brendan Perlini, and Christopher Ehn, allowing them to become unrestricted free agents.

On the opening day of free agency, the Red Wings signed reigning Masterson Trophy winner Bobby Ryan to a one-year, one-million-dollar contract after he was bought out by the Ottawa Senators. It has been a rough few years for the former second overall pick, but a rebuilding team like the Wings seems like a good fit for a player who is trying to revive his career. They also added some defensive depth by bringing in Jon Merrill on a one-year, $925k contract. The additions of Staal and Merrill should make up for some of the experience lost with the departure of long-serving Red Wing Jonathan Ericsson, and the retirement of Trevor Daley.

Those moves were followed by the signings of Troy Stecher, Thomas Greiss, and Vladislav Namestnikov. Stecher, 26, was not tendered a qualifying offer by the Vancouver Canucks, allowing Detroit to sign him to a two-year deal as an unrestricted free agent. He will have an opportunity to earn top-four minutes and perhaps some second unit power play time on a team that is short on blue line options. The signing of Greiss to a two-year deal was the final nail in the coffin for the Jimmy Howard era in Detroit, and he will form a tandem with the returning Jonathan Bernier. Namestnikov is a solid addition on a short-term deal that carries a cap hit of just $2 million, and he will provide versatility to a Red Wings lineup that will be looking to integrate some of their younger forwards into the NHL lineup.

After retaining restricted free agents Taro Hirose and Adam Erne, the Red Wings also had a pair of key players in Tyler Bertuzzi and Anthony Mantha file for salary arbitration this offseason. Bertuzzi went through the arbitration process and was awarded a one-year contract worth $3.5 million, while the team managed to settle with Anthony Mantha on a four-year deal worth $5.7 million per year prior to his hearing. Both players will be looked to as key contributors for the Red Wings this coming season and beyond.

Draft Recap

Round 1, 4th overall – Lucas Raymond, RW

I’m sure the Red Wings were disappointed with how the draft lottery unfolded, but coming away with Lucas Raymond at fourth overall is a pretty good consolation prize. Raymond is an exceptionally well-rounded offensive talent who can create offense in a variety of ways. He has a deadly wrist shot that allows him to beat goaltenders from distance, and outstanding vision, which allows him to create scoring opportunities for his teammates with his high-level passing ability. He is one of the best puck handlers from this draft class and he can cause fits for opposing defenders when he has the puck on his stick. The combination of his excellent skating and elite hockey IQ makes him a strong forechecker, as well as a reliable defensive presence. There really aren’t many weaknesses in Raymond’s game and he holds the potential to be a star for the Red Wings.

Round 2, 32nd overall – William Wallinder, D

With the first selection in the second round, Detroit chose towering Swedish defenceman William Wallinder. The young blueliner is a phenomenal skater – especially for a player that stands 6-foot-4, and while he’s shown flashes in the offensive end, his defensive game is still a work in progress. He often looks lost and reactionary in the defensive zone and doesn’t play as tight a gap on the rush as you’d like to see for such a smooth-skating, large defenceman. Wallinder possesses some offensive upside and can create opportunities in transition with his ability to separate and elude forecheckers, however, he is still something of a project despite his immense potential.

Round 2, 51st overall – Theodor Niederbach, C

After trading down from the 45th pick, the Red Wings returned to the Swedish well for a third consecutive pick, selecting playmaking forward Theodor Niederbach. He missed his entire draft minus-one season recovering from knee surgery, but returned with vengeance in his draft year, leading Frolunda’s J20 team in scoring with 15 goals and 33 assists in just 40 games. Niederbach is an intelligent player with great vision in the offensive zone and can make plays in tight spaces to create room for himself as well as his teammates. His skating is still just average, but he works hard in all three zones and his intelligent play lends itself to the defensive side of the puck as well.

Round 2, 55th overall – Cross Hanas, LW

With their third pick in the second round, Detroit selected winger Cross Hanas from the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks. Hanas is an incredible puck handler who consistently leaves defenders in the dust with slick dekes. He can finish in close but is more proficient as a passer and pushes the puck into dangerous scoring areas at a high rate. He needs to add some speed and explosiveness to his game but holds legitimate offensive upside.

Round 3, 63rd overall – Donovan Sebrango, D

With their first of two third-round picks, the Red Wings selected defenceman Donovan Sebrango from the Kitchener Rangers of the OHL. He is a smooth skater with good size at 6-foot-1, 183-pounds, and is at his best when he is keeping things simple with the puck on his stick. He is elusive on puck retrievals and makes good, short passes to get breakouts started. There isn’t a ton of offensive upside in his game but Sebrango skates well and could grow into a defensively-minded puck mover at the pro level.

Round 3, 70th overall – Eemil Viro, D

For the second time in the draft, Detroit traded down – this time from 65th – to acquire an additional pick later in the draft. After moving down five spots, the Red Wings nabbed Finnish defender, Emil Viro at 70th overall. Viro is a strong skater and doesn’t shy away from the physical part of the game, handling himself admirably against men as an 18-year-old in Liiga. He has decent defensive instincts but struggles with the pace of the game when he has the puck on his stick. Viro is still young with lots of tools and plenty of runway to develop into an NHL defender.

Round 4, 97th overall – Sam Stange, RW

In the early stages of the fourth round, Detroit took a swing on American-born winger, Sam Stange, who went undrafted in his first year of eligibility. Stange is an offensively minded winger with decent hands and a good release, but carries heavy feet and lacks explosiveness. He is a long-term project but has good size and could develop into a bottom-six player at the NHL level if he can add some quickness to his overall game.

Round 4, 107th overall – Jan Bednar, G

Bednar entered his draft year as one of the top goalies in his class, but after struggling through much of the 2019-2020 season, fell all the way to 107th overall before the Detroit Red Wings scooped him up. Development isn’t always linear, especially with goaltenders, but Bednar’s toolkit is still enticing. He is very athletic and has the size that NHL teams desire in their goaltenders, but he still has to put it all together consistently.

Round 5, 132nd overall – Alex Cotton, D

The Red Wings took another overage player in defenceman, Alex Cotton, with the 132nd pick. Cotton put up huge numbers with Lethbridge as a draft plus-one player, finishing with 67 points in 63 games. He has plenty of offensive skills, but he can be too aggressive jumping into the rush at times, leading to defensive breakdowns. He will need to improve his speed and mobility if he is going to make good on his offensive upside at the pro level.

Round 6, 156th overall – Kyle Aucoin, D

Taken by the Red Wings with the 156th pick, Kyle Aucoin is the son of long-time NHL’er Adrian Aucoin. He is an undersized defender who skates well but struggles against bigger-bodied players. He plays a quiet game without much flash and he has a penchant for making smart, simple plays. Aucoin will need to get stronger as he continues his development.

Round 7, 187th overall – Kienan Draper, RW

Kris Draper was a beloved Red Wing when he played and has transitioned into a front-office role with Detroit since his retirement. In the seventh round, Yzerman threw him a bone and signed off on the selection of Kris’ son, Kienan. He wasn’t projected to be drafted and he’s a long-term project at best, but there’s a slight chance of him developing into a defensively responsible bottom-six forward someday.

Round 7, 203rd overall – Chase Bradley, LW

With their final pick in the 2020 draft, Detroit selected winger Chase Bradley out of the USHL. Bradley has good hockey sense and reads the play well at both ends of the ice. He has decent skill and a knack for finding open space in the offensive zone. It’s always smart to bet on upside with late-round picks and the Red Wings did exactly that in selecting Chase Bradley.

Fantasy Impact

  •       The additions of Namestnikov and Bobby Ryan give the Red Wings a little more offensive depth upfront and could free up the top line for more offensive matchups
  •       Thomas Greiss and Jonathan Bernier will likely share the load in net, but one could emerge as a 1A starter as the season progresses
  •       Filip Zadina should make the team out of camp and could produce solid point totals, depending on his usage
  •       The departures of Ericsson, Daley, and Bowey could provide an opportunity for Dennis Cholowski or Moritz Seider to play games for the Red Wings this year

Incoming: Thomas Greiss, Vladislav Namestnikov, Bobby Ryan, Marc Staal, Troy Stecher, Jon Merrill, Kyle Criscuolo, Riley Barber, Kevin Boyle

Outgoing: Jimmy Howard, Justin Abdelkader, Jonathan Ericsson, Madison Bowey, Trevor Daley, Brendan Perlini, Christopher Ehn, Cody Goloubef

******************

Follow me on Twitter @_NickRichard 

 

LATEST PROFILE UPDATES