NASHVILLE — Detroit Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman opted to turn his two first rounders and three second rounders into draft picks rather than use them as bargaining chips in major trades.
But he was able to complete one deal Thursday without giving up anything . The Red Wings acquired the rights to Klim Kostin and Kailer Yamamoto for future considerations.
Kosten, 24, likely is the Red Wings’ primary target. Yamamoto could be a buyout candidate. Kostin is a 6-foot-4, 218-pound Russian center who had 66 penalty minutes and 11 goals. He fits well into Detroit’s objective to have a higher level of belligerence next season. He is a restricted free agent.
“We thought he showed he can play in the NHL as a regular,” Yzerman said. “That was our opinion. How high up the lineup? We are optimistic he can work his way into a bigger role for us.”
Yzerman said the Red Wings took a hard look at Kostin last season.
“He’s big,” he said. “He skates well. He is more involved and he played on a pretty deep team in Edmonton.
Massive disappointment for Yamamoto, moving from Cup contender to 24th-place DET.
"Yes, this hurts," said a friend of the player.
DET could buy out Yamamoto – AAV of $533,334 this yer and next – or keep him at $3.1 M.
Rights to Kostin may have been Yzerman's goal.
— Mark Spector🇨🇦🇺🇦 (@SportsnetSpec) June 29, 2023
In the ramp up to the draft, social media had been abuzz with trade rumors and pure speculation about Yzerman using some of those picks to acquire a veteran scorer. The chief rumors involved the Red Wings pursuing either Ottawa’s Alex DeBrincat or Philadelphia’s Travis Konecny. But the only trade the Red Wings made was trading their last second rounder, No. 43, to Nashville for picks No. 47 and No. 147.
“We had some discussions with teams with both (first round) picks,” Yzerman said. “But ultimately… We were even thinking about moving up, moving back with both, obviously, we chose not to move up. When our picks were coming up, the options to move back were interesting but we had two particular players in each case that we wanted to use the picks.”
Sandin Pellikka Like Rafalski?
The Red Wings opted to two-way center Nate Danielson at No. 9 and then were pleased to find Swedish defenseman Axel Sandin Pellikka available for them at No. 17. He is a true power play quarter, probably the No. 1 offensive-minded defenseman in the 2023 draft class. Sandin Pellikka is a smaller defensive but he is an above-average one-one-one defender. Think former Red Wings player Brian Rafalski.
On the second day of the draft, the Red Wings claimed South Lyon, Michigan native goalie Trey Augustine who played for USA’s National Team Development program. He is headed to Michigan State.
Augustine went at No. 43, and Ontario Hockey League right-shot defenseman Andrew Gibson was claimed at No. 44. With the No. 47 pick, the Red Wings went with hard-to-play-against Team USA left-shot defenseman Brady Cleveland.
It wasn’t just the Red Wings who didn’t complete expected deals. No trades for veterans were completed during the first day of the draft. By the fifth round, in day two, the only trades of actual NHLers were the New York Islanders moving Josh Bailey to the Chicago Blackhawks and the Detroit acquisitions from Edmonton.
“I don’t know what everybody else was doing,” Yzerman said after the first round. “But we had some discussions with teams and ultimately, speaking for us, we were comfortable. We had a particular player we wanted for a specific reason at the picks. But, yeah, I don’t remember the last time we didn’t have any movement. Interesting. I don’t really know why.”