By @MichaelCaples –
Now that the Red Wings know what pick they hold for the first round of the 2018 NHL Draft, it’s time for speculation season.
With this draft class, however, it’s going to be tough.
Thanks to a very deep pool of talent, it’s going to be tough to pinpoint who will be available for the Red Wings at the No. 6 overall spot when the draft gets underway on June 22 in Dallas.
Rasmus Dahlin will certainly be off the board; the one thing scouts and experts can agree on is that the Swedish defenseman is the no-questions-asked first overall pick.
It is also safe to assume that Andrei Svechnikov – brother of Red Wings prospect Evgeny and a Muskegon Lumberjacks alum – will be selected before the Wings have a chance to reunite the Russian brothers.
From there, well, who knows. Here’s a look at who is in contention to be the Wings’ highest draft selection since Keith Primeau was claimed in 1990 – broken down by ‘a bit of a stretch’ players who probably won’t be there at six (but might be) and then the ‘sweet spot’ more likely possibilities.
A bit of a stretch…
Left Wing – Boston University – 6-foot-3, 196 pounds
Ranked No. 2 (North American skaters) by NHL Central Scouting
He’s probably going to be the No. 3 or 4 selection, but, if he falls to No. 6, the Wings may sprint up to the draft podium and scream his name. A product of USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program and a Boston University sophomore-to-be, Tkachuck certainly has the right bloodlines – he’s the son of American hockey icon Keith Tkachuk and brother of Flames standout Matthew Tkachuk. A power forward like the others, Tkachuk has the wheels and the scoring touch necessary to live up to his last name.
Right Wing – Halifax Mooseheads – 6-foot-0, 195 pounds
Ranked No. 3 (North American skaters) by NHL Central Scouting
If a team doesn’t take Tkachuk but still wants a forward, they’re most-likely claiming Zadina. A late 1999 birth-year player hailing from the Czech Republic, Zadina posted 82 points in 57 games during his first taste of North American hockey this past campaign – he impressed with the QMJHL’s Halifax Mooseheads. “Zadina is a determined and hungry scorer,” TSN director of scouting Craig Button wrote about Zadina. “He has the ability to score in multiple ways between the dots and from the top of the circles in the offensive zone.”
Defenseman – London Knights – 6-foot-2, 193 pounds
Ranked No. 4 (North American skaters) by NHL Central Scouting
Another late 1999 birth-year player, Bouchard is the anchor of the London Knights’ blue line. He registered 87 points in 67 games from the blue line for the storied OHL franchise. He gets bonus points for being a right-handed shot, as well. “Bouchard has excellent sense and feel for the game,” according to Button, “complimented by a poise that makes you think his heart rate is 40 beats per minute.”
The sweet spot…
Defenseman – Michigan Wolverines – 5-foot-10, 170 pounds
Ranked No. 6 (North American skaters) by NHL Central Scouting
If the Wings want a defenseman that can change a game in a hurry, then they will be looking at Hughes. The NTDP alum and Michigan Wolverines blueliner may be the best skater in the entire draft class, and he’s got the puck skills and hockey smarts to make his speed and quickness that much more dangerous. He’s listed at a generous 5-foot-10 and 175 pounds on the Wolverines’ roster – he won’t be physically manhandling the opponent in his own zone but he moves the puck out of the danger zone so quickly that his size isn’t always a worry.
Right Wing – NTDP Under-18 Team – 6-foot-1, 205 pounds
Ranked No. 7 (North American skaters) by NHL Central Scouting
The NTDP Under-18 Team forward is the headliner of a skilled 2000 birth-year class in Plymouth. Wahlstrom, a household name since he wowed with a fancy lacrosse-style goal in a shootout during a Bruins game when he was little, has lived up to the hype, and he has kept putting the puck in the net while progressing through the hockey ranks. As of April 28, he’s got 92 points in 60 games with the NTDP this season – a slate of international, USHL and NCAA games. He’s not afraid of physical play, either, and he checks in at 6-foot-1 and 205 pounds at the moment.
Defenseman – Brynas Jr. – 5-foot-11, 168 pounds
Ranked No. 2 (European skaters) by NHL Central Scouting
“Boqvist’s resemblance to Ottawa Senators captain Erik Karlsson is marked,” Button says. “The high skill, brilliant creativity and daring that allow Karlsson to command a game and capture the attention of his audience are present in Boqvist’s game.” His season was cut short with a concussion, but it’s hard to ignore comparisons like that. During his trip to Plymouth for the Under-18 Five Nations Tournament in February, he demonstrated impressive puck skills and a strong first pass out of his own zone.
Defenseman – Acadie-Bathurst Titan – 6-foot-3, 180 pounds
Ranked No. 5 (North American skaters) by NHL Central Scouting
Dobson is a tall, lanky puck-moving defenseman that knows how to fill up the scoresheet. He tied for second among all QMJHL defensemen with 69 points in 67 games. “Dobson is an excellent two-way, all-around blueliner who can impact the game in all three zones,” wrote TSN hockey expert Bob McKenzie. “He’s smart, physical, and skilled and is continuing to elevate his game.”