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Red Wings Go For Defense in Draft’s Second Day

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Trey Augustine was taken by the Red Wings with their first pick in the second round. (Photo by Chris Tanouye, IIHF)

The Detroit Red Wings added to their defense at the start of the second day of the NHL Drat on Thursday in Nashville.

The Red Wings had three consecutive picks in the second round, but traded the third to the Predators for Nashville’s second-round pick and one in the fifth round.

Their first pick, at No. 41, was goalie Trey Augustine, who was born in South Lyon and played in high school at Livonia Churchill before moving to the National Team Development Program. He has committed to play at Michigan State.

Augustine, who is 6-feet, 189 pounds, played in 32 games last season for the USNTDP with a 2.14 goals-against average and .925 save percentage. He won four of six games for the U.S. team at the World Junior Championships, with  2.85 GAA and .891 save percentage. His draft stock rose considerably after that.

The next pick, No. 42, was defenseman Andrew Gibson of the Soo Greyhounds of the OHL. The 6-3, 185 pounder had seven goals for the Greyhounds last season and recorded three assists in seven games for Team Canada in the World Under-18 Games.

“I got a lot of friends and family who are Wings fans,” Gibson said. “I played for the Junior Red Wings in a tournament with Trey. It’s a great feeling being so close to home, being with such a great organization.”

Gibson , who missed eight weeks due to injury last season, uses an accurate wrist shot in traffic to create opportunities for rebounds and tip-ins. He was the Greyhounds’ rookie of the year last season.

“I’m a bigger guy,” he said. “I like to use my size to my advantage. I think I skate well for a big guy as well. I think I can play both ends of the ice, but offensively and defensively.”

After the trade, Detroit took defenseman Brady Cleveland with the No. 47 pick, Cleveland is a Wisconsin native who is signed to play at the University of Wisconsin next winter.

Cleveland was excited to join his teammate, Augustine, in the Red Wings[ draft class.

“I was sitting in the stands when he got picked and I was absolutely pumped for him,” he said, “and then for me to get picked right after is awesome. I really loved playing with him and to be able to go back and play with him again, that would be something really special.”

Cleveland isn’t much of  a scorer — he took only 14 shots in 55 games last season. But at 6-5, 211, he was one of the toughest hitters in the USHL and led the USNDTP with 106 penalty minutes. He’s skilled enough as a defender to play for the U.S. team at the World U-18 Championships.

“That’s kind of what I pride myself on,” he said of his physical game. “I like to be that guy who’s mean and physical and get up in your face and be hard to play against. It doesn’t matter what game, what scenario, I’m going to be out there and make it a nightmare for you.”

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In the third round, Detroit selected forward Noah Dower Nilsson, a 6-0 left wing who played for Vastra Frolunda Jr. of the Swedish Junior League last season, recording 26 goals and 28 assists in 37 games.

“I think my strength is developing,” he said. “When I have the puck I create opportunities for my teammates. My offensive skills. What I need to be better on is to be stronger on the puck, stronger on the whole and my play in the D zone.”

His brother, Liam, was a fifth-round pick by the Red Wings in 2021. He was with the rest of the family when Noah’s name was called.

“He’s always been with me and my whole family has helped me to get here,” Noah Dower-Nilsson said. “Without them I don’t think I’m here. I will also thank my mom. She has helped me get here today. She’s my biggest idol.”

In the fourth round, the Red Wings took Larry Keenan of Culver Academy, a high school in Culver, Ind. He is the grandson of Larry Keenan, who played for four NHL teams in the 1960s.

The younger Keenan wasn’t surprised to be taken by Detroit.

“They were probably one of the teams that had the most interest in me,” he said. “I know their scout Tim Gibson, he was calling my personal trainer quite a big, even like two days ago, just checking in, making sure everything was good.”

The elder Keenan scored the first goal in the history of the St. Louis Blues, and was on the ice when Bobby Orr scored his famous goal against St. Louis in 1970.

Among those celebrating the pick was the elder Larry Keenan, who is now 83.

“I’m really excited to share it with them and take it all in. Enjoying the moment,” the younger Keenan said.

Detroit had two fifth-round picks, their own and Nashville’s. With their pick they took defenseman Jack Phelan of Sioux City (USHL). With Nashville’s choice, they took German forward Kevin Bicker.

In the sixth round, the Red Wings took another goalie, selecting Rudy Guimond of the Taft School of Watertown, Connecticut.

He plans to spend the next two years with the USHL’s Cedar Rapids team before attending Yale. But the draft was a personal highlight.

“It’s something I’ve been dreaming about my whole life,” Guimond said. “So if (being drafted) were to happen I just really wanted to be here. Nashville’s been great, so I’m really happy I came. And obviously, I got drafted.”

Detroit finished the day by taking left wing Emmitt Finnie in the seventh round. Finnie played for Kamloops of the WHL last season.