The draft is always fun for NHL fans, but speculation leading up to the draft can be more fun. Already there’s considerable chatter about possible trades and how the first round might unfold. Here is some top-of-the-first-round talk that could impact the Detroit Red Wings:
Matvei Mishkov Is The Wild Card
Russian Mishkov is a dynamic offensive threat. One NHL draft expert told Detroit Hockey Now that he could end up having as much impact as any player in this year’s draft. The only negative about Michkov: He has a Kontinental Hockey League contract that runs through 2025-26. There’s also uncertainty about how Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will impact sports moving forward.
That’s why there’s a chance Mishkov could slide in the NHL draft.
But that may not happen. NHL teams appreciate his potential. You don’t expect draft picks to have instant impact, so what’s wrong with waiting on Michkov? The Minnesota Wild waited longer than they wanted for Kirill Kaprizov. But when he showed up he was already a difference-maker.
However, if he does start to slide, it could prompt a team to attempt to move up to draft him. The NHL isn’t the NFL. Trading up doesn’t happen all that frequently. But if the San Jose Sharks at No. 4 or the Montreal Canadiens at No. 5 don’t take Michkov, could the Red Wings, at No. 9, make a deal with the Arizona Coyotes at No. 6? The Red Wings have plenty of picks and prospects to dangle. And Yzerman is a closer when it comes to trades. Is a deal for Michkov likely? No. If the Sharks take Will Smith at No. 4, it seems far more likely the Canadiens would draft Mishkov at No. 5. Players of Mishkov’s ability aren’t usually available at No. 5.
But if there is a deal at the top of the first round, it probably will involve a pick to draft Mishkov. And it is hard to believe Yzerman wouldn’t at least make a call about that kind of deal.
Leonard Sliding to Detroit
The consensus is Connor Bedard, Adam Fantilli, Leo Carlsson, Smith and Mishkov will be the first five picks, maybe even in that order. The draft gets interesting at No. 6. Some draft experts see the Coyotes taking forward Western Hockey League standout Zach Benson at No. 6. He’s a quality skater, skilled offensive player and relentless competitor. Others believe the Coyotes’ pick should be Team USA’s Ryan Leonard, a scoring forward with tenacity.
That decision is important because we hear the Flyers have been impressed with skilled, skating center Oliver Moore. He has been compared to Dylan Larkin because of his skating.
Meanwhile, the Washington Capitals (picking at No. 8) are thought to be interested in defenseman David Reinbacher as the eventual replacement for John Carlson. Reinbacher, an Austrian playing in Switzerland, is more advanced than defensemen usually are at his age. He’s a two-way performer and he’s 6-foot-2, 190 pounds.
That’s how Leonard could end up falling to Detroit. The chances of the draft unfolding like that seems unlikely. The Coyotes could select Leonard. But drafts don’t usually play out the way experts think they will because teams view prospects differently.
Red Wings Claim Reinbacher at No. 9
Fans expect the Red Wings to take a forward because the team needs offense and has some young quality defensemen coming. But Yzerman says he believes in taking the best player, regardless of position.
But some opponents believe the Red Wings have their eye on Reinbacher. The added lure of Reinbacher is that he is a right-shot defenseman. Imagine future defensive pairings of Moritz Seider and Simon Edvinsson and Albert Johansson and Reinbacher on the second pairing.