The rebuilding Detroit Red Wings are looking for scoring and size this summer in the NHL draft and free agent marketplace. Wouldn’t a player in the mold of Cam Neely be a nice get with their No. 9 draft pick?
Coach Derek Lalonde wants his team to have more push-back next season. Wouldn’t a hard-nosed player like Rod Brind’Amour be a welcome addition. How about another Brian Leetch or Logan Couture or Dion Phaneuf or Bo Horvat?
All of those players were selected with the No. 9 pick in their draft year. Not every team hits a jackpot with the No. 9 pick. In recent years, the New York Rangers took Igor Kravtsov with the No. 9 pick in 2018 and he has struggled to find his place in the NHL. Injuries have undermined the careers of other No. 9 picks, including Brett Lindros.
The Red Wings have a 64.4% chance of picking ninth overall. They have a 5% shot at winning the NHL draft lottery, otherwise known as the Connor Bedard Sweepstakes. They have a 5.2% of moving up to the second pick. Detroit’s chances of falling to No. 10 are 23.5%.
But what we know about No. 9 draft picks is that the majority of them have enjoyed quality careers, particularly in recent years. And some of them have been major difference-makers.
NHL Recent Draft 9th Overall Picks
|NHL Career Statistics
|Yet to play in NHL
|Junior teammate of Sebastian Cossa
|Slowed by illness to start career
|Second among NHL scorers from 2019 draft
|Underachiever, since traded to Vancouver
|Developing into useful player for Red Wings
|Traded to Tampa, is 2-time Cup winner
|3-time 30-goal scorer, traded to New Jersey in 2023
|6-time 20-goal scorer
|Now with NYI, captained Canucks, 2-time 30-goal scorer
|Traded to NYR, currently their team captain
|Now with Devils, posted career-high 22-52-74 totals this season
|2-time 20-goal scorer currently with Penguins
|NHL career cut short by injuries
|15-season NHL vet has never scored more than 18 goals in a season
Rasmussen Was Ninth Pick
The Red Wings certainly have history when it comes to the No. 9 pick. They took John Barkwell with the No. 9 pick in 1967 and he never played for the Red Wings or in the NHL. Left wing Bill Lochead was taken ninth overall by the Red Wings in 1974. Lochead played five seasons for Detroit and scored 20 goals in 1977-78.
He is remembered in Red Wings lore for scoring the series-clinching playoff goal in Detroit’s playoff series win against the Atlanta Flames in 1977-78. He had two goals in the 3-2 win against Atlanta. Lochead played on a line with Dale McCourt and Paul Woods. Today, Woods is an analyst on Red Wings’ radio broadcasts.
In 1978, the Red Wings also owned the ninth overall pick and took Willie Huber, a 6-foot-5 defenseman. The late Huber had some offensive skill, but fans wanted him to use his size to be a physical force. That was not Huber’s game.
Of course, the most important player the Red Wings drafted at No. 9 is Michael Rasmussen because he is now critical to the rebuild. Now 24, the 6-foot-6 Rasmussen is an all-purpose forward who can kill penalties, play a physical, defensive role and contribute some scoring. “He’s a huge piece,” said Detroit center Andrew Copp who had good chemistry with Rasmussen.
This year’s draft is being billed as a deep draft. Detroit general manager Steve Yzerman has said he’s optimistic that the Red Wings will land a quality prospect. History supports that optimism.
Plus, No. 9, historically, has been an important number for the Red Wings organization.