The Detroit Red Wings, unless they win the NHL draft lottery, will be in a position to buy American at the NHL draft this summer.
NHL Central Scouting’s final draft rankings has two U.S. National Development Program players listed in the general vicinity of where the Red Wings are likely to be picking. The Red Wings currently are slotted eighth, and they could fall to 10th if two teams jump over them through the lottery. But the odds of Detroit picking No. 8 or No. 9 are 84.4%.
USNTDP left wing Isaac Howard is ranked No. 9 among North American players and right wing Jimmy Snuggerud, the son of former NHLer Dave Snuggerud, is ranked No. 11.
But that is somewhat misleading because Central Scouting does a separate list for European players, and five or six off that list could go in the top 10 in the NHL draft July 7 and 8 in Montreal.
And to make it even more confusing team lists can vary significantly from Central Scouting and mock drafts published by independent scouting entities. For example, GM Steve Yzerman had Moritz Seider ranked higher than other scouting services.
But both Howard and Snuggerud are scorers, and the Red Wings need more of those. Howard has scored 33 goals and registered 82 points in 60 games this season. Snuggerud had 24 goals and 63 points in 59 games.
NTDP in Red Wings Backyard
Scouts say the USNTDP, located USA Hockey Arena in Plymouth, has a deep collection of talent this season.
“I think as many as nine NTDP players could be first round selections,” said Russ Cohen, a draft analyst for Sirius Radio and other outlets.
But Howard and Snuggerud are merely in the mix with other players ranked ahead of them Conor Geekie, a 6-foot-3 center from Winnipeg Ice who has 70 points in 63 games. Central Scouting has him ranked fifth.
Left wing Cutter Gauthier of the NTDP is ranked in the No. 6 or No. 7 range by some independent scouting agencies. Perhaps he could slide to No. 8. He’s almost 6-foot-3, and he’s a 34-goal scorer this season.
But it’s difficult not to connect Detroit to dynamic Swedish player Jonathan Lekkerimaki, a smallish winger who played a major role in helping Sweden winning the World Under-18 gold medal. He has moved from ninth to sixth on Central Scouting Final European List. He’s going to be drafted right around where the Red Wings will be picking.
How Swede it Is
Right above Lekkerimaki on the Central Scouting list is Marco Kasper. He is a 6-1, 185-pound center who plays for Rogle in the Swedish League. But he’s from Austria. NHL scouts seem to like him. He has risen from seventh to fifth on the Central Scouting since the mid-season rankings.
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Another Swede who has been rising on the Central Scouting list is Liam Ohgren, a 6-1, 190-pound scoring winger. He was also on the gold medal-winning team at the Under-18 World Championships.
Of course, the Red Wings would like to win the lottery and grab Wright. They have a six percent chance of doing that. Or, they would like to win the No. 2 pick in the draft. They have 6.4% chance of securing that pick. Then they might consider Cooley, who is a natural center, about the size of Steve Yzerman. Maybe slightly taller.
“The guys he compares most closely with, due to size, position, and playing styles, are Jack Hughes and Trevor Zegras from the 2019 class,” said Kyle Woodlief, chief scout of Red Line Report. “And even then, his hockey sense and skills are not on Hughes’ level, so probably the comparison I would make is to Zegras.”
Of course, the Red Wings would also like to add some size, meaning, if they get the second pick, they might take 6-4 left wing Juraj Slafkovsky, a Slovak playing in Finland. He’s Central Scouting’s No. 1-ranked European.