Red Wings lose season and draft lottery: They'll pick fourth
The Red Wings are expected to draft defenseman Jamie Drysdale, whom GM Steve Yzerman calls “a very good prospect.”
The Red Wings can’t win for losing in the NHL’s draft lottery.
Whenever the draft is held, the last-place Wings will not be able to pick one of the three top-ranked prospects, even though they had the league's worst record during the 2019-20 regular season – 17-49-5 for 39 points.
That’s because Detroit came away from Friday’s draft lottery with only the fourth overall pick.
In fact, the Wings have not “won” in the lottery in the last four years. In the 2017, they dropped from the seventh pick to the ninth, in 2018 from fifth to sixth, in 2019 from fourth to sixth and this year from first to fourth.
With that pick, the Wings will probably take defenseman Jamie Drysdale, who is the top-ranked defenseman but is not considered one of the top three prospects.
You can blame the coronavirus for part of Detroit’s predicament. Because the season was suspended, the NHL plans a shortened playoff that has yet to be scheduled. That means there will be a second phase of the lottery involving the eight teams that lose in the playoff’s qualifying round.
The lottery winner will have the opportunity to select the consensus top pick, left wing Alexis Lafreniere from Rimouski of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
Detroit had an 18.5 percent chance of nabbing that first overall pick.
The Los Angeles got the second overall pick and the Ottawa Senators – who had their own lottery pick and that of the San Jose Sharks from the Erik Karlsson trade – will pick third and fifth.
Center Quinton Byfield from Sudbury of the Ontario Hockey League and right wing Tim Stuetzel who plays with Mannheim in Germany – the same team that produced the Wings’ top pick last season, defenseman Moritz Seider – are considered a pick ’em for the second and third choices.
Which brings us to Drysdale.
He is a 5-11, 174-pound defenseman who plays with Erie of the OHL. He is an outstanding skater and puck mover who also has an elite hockey IQ. And despite his rather diminutive size, he is good defensively and uses his body well in physical situations along with an active stick to break up plays.
The 18-year-old Toronto native had nine goals and 38 assists for 47 points and was plus nine in 49 games with Erie this past season. He also had a goal and two assists and was plus-three in seven games for Canada in the World Junior Championship.
Whether or not it’s Drysdale, general manager Steve Yzerman says the Red Wings will get an outstanding player at No. 4.
“Whether we’re picking first or fourth, we feel we’re going to get a very good prospect,” said Yzerman, who’s the player the Wings got the last time they picked fourth, in 1983. “There’s going to be great options for us, and we’re going to be very excited about the prospect we get, and he’ll have tremendous potential to be a good NHL player … that can move the needle.”
It would move the needle for Detroit if it selects Drysdale and he develops as hoped because one of the team's biggest needs is a defenseman who can consistently move the puck out of the defenive zone, either by passing or skating with it, and get the rush going.
That would make this draft a winner for Detroit, despite everything else.