Detroit — The Red Wings feel good about where they are picking in the NHL Entry Draft.
They’ll pick sixth in the first round — and again at No. 22, thanks to the Anthony Mantha trade to Washington — when the draft takes place virtually July 23-24.
The Wings have had practice picking sixth, as this will be the third time in four years they’ll select sixth overall. In 2018, the Wings selected forward Filip Zadina at No. 6, and followed that by taking Moritz Seider at No. 6 in 2019.
Next month, general manager Steve Yzerman feels there will be a pool of good players to choose from again.
“We’ll get a good prospect,” Yzerman said at the conclusion of the draft lottery. “We’re excited about the possibilities that will be there. More so this year than any other year, you’re going to have vastly different lists. This one’s going to be, maybe there will be more surprises than ever.
“Sitting at six, there’s multiple players we think will be there and we’ll be excited about the pick.”
This draft has been impacted greatly by the pandemic, with many leagues in North America and Europe either being canceled or shortened.
In turn, scouts had limited opportunities to scout potential draft picks and teams’ opinions are likely to vary.
The Wings aren’t likely to focus on a given position with the sixth pick.
“Our plan will be to pick the best prospect on the board,” Yzerman said. “I don’t think we’re in a position with the sixth pick to say we definitely need this position. “We do need help in every area and the reality is whoever we pick, in one, two, three years when they’re ready to play, things can change.”
So who could be available for the Wings with the sixth pick overall?
Two Michigan players, defenseman Owen Power and forward Matthew Beniers, aren’t likely to be available.
Power is expected to go No. 1 overall, and there are few, if any, mock drafts who feel it’ll be anyone but Power going to Buffalo with the first pick overall.
Beniers is likely to be picked in the top three or four picks, with expansion Seattle a very real possibility of making him the organization’s first draft pick at No. 2 overall.
Everyone else could rise or fall, based on a particular team’s thoughts.
Here are players who could be there for the Wings to select, in alphabetical order:
► Brandt Clarke, defenseman, 6-2, 185 pounds, Barrie (OHL): One of the best puck-rushing defensemen in this class, Clarke played in a Slovakian pro league with the OHL season canceled. Clarke had six goals and seven assists in 24 games and didn’t look out of place.
► Simon Edvinsson, defenseman, 6-5, 207, Frolunda (Sweden): Some scouts aren’t completely convinced, but Edvinsson has drawn comparisons to Tampa Bay’s Victor Hedman because they’re big Swedes who are mobile and jumpstart a team offensively. Columbus might be a fit at pick No. 5.
► William Eklund, left wing, 5-10, 176, Djurgardens (Sweden): Several respected mock drafts have the Wings taking Eklund, and it’s entirely possible. NHL central scouting as Eklund as its No. 1 international skater, with scouts impressed by his speed, puckhandling and vision.
►Dylan Guenther, right wing, 6-1, 175, Edmonton (WHL): Guenther knows and understands how to score goals, and that’s a valuable attribute these days. Guenther only played 12 games this season, but scouts are sold on his ability. Anaheim at No. 3, in need of offense, could be a fit.
► Luke Hughes, defenseman, 6-2, 184, U.S. National Team Development Program: The third Hughes brother (after Quinn and Jack) has a chance to be there at No. 6, although New Jersey at No. 4, to play with Jack, seems like a natural.
► Kent Johnson, center, 6-1, 167, Michigan: The third UM player expected to go in the top 5 to 10 picks, Johnson had 27 points in 26 games and is effective at center or wing. Johnson needs to grow physically, but the puck skills are elite.
► Chaz Lucius, center, 6-foot, 183, NTDP: Lucius scored 13 goals in 13 games, and displayed a terrific shot that might be one of the most accurate in the draft. Lucius’ stock is reportedly rising on some draft boards.
► Mason McTavish, center, 6-foot-2, 207, Peterborough (OHL): McTavish is another player whose stock is skyrocketing after a strong finish to his season. McTavish plays with some grit, and scouts like his character, which make McTavish a lock to be quickly picked.
► Jesper Wallstedt, goaltender, 6-3, 214, Lulea (Sweden): The Wings need to bolster the goaltending in their organization, and many scouts feel Wallstedt is worth a selection this high in the draft. Wallstedt had a .908 save percentage playing in Sweden’s men league, and is technically sound in net.
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