(Editor’s Note: It’s too early to know for sure how GM Steve Yzerman’s draft classes will turn out. His first Detroit Red Wings draft class was 2019. Only two of his first rounders are on the Red Wings. But even though results are still coming in, we can have an early check-in to see how the Red Wings’ 2020 class is shaping up.)
The one story Detroit Red Wings coach Derek Lalonde will want to hear on the first day of training camp is Lucas Raymond‘s tale of how he spent his summer vacation.
At Lalonde’s season-ending press conference, he made it clear that Raymond needed to work exceptionally hard in the offseason to get him where the Red Wings wanted him to be.
“I still think there’s growth for Lucas,” Lalonde said. “There was a little bit – I’m not gonna call it regression, but I think there’s gonna be some bumps between your first two years in the NHL. The fact that he’s never seen the American Hockey League. He jumped right into the National Hockey League. I don’t think people respect how hard that is. You can’t think it’s just going to keep growing steadily. There’s gonna be bumps in the road physically. He probably went through some bumps and bruises. He went through some sicknesses this year. That’s just part of being a young kid in this league.”
Although the Red Wings still want more, Raymond (drafted 4th overall) is one of the most accomplished early risers from the 2020 draft. Only Ottawa’s Tim Stutzle (177 points in 210 games) has put up more points than Raymond (102 points in 156 games). Only seven players from the 2020 draft crop have played 120 or more games in the NHL.
The Red Wings had 12 picks in the 2020 draft and thus far boasts one player in the league and two others that are tracking toward getting there.
NHL teams expect to land at least two players out of each draft class, and the Red Wings seem to be on track to exceed the average.
First Rate Talent in Second Round
The Red Wings’ two second round picks — defenseman William Wallinder (drafted 32nd overall) and left wing Cross Hanas (drafted 55th overall) — are both pointed toward Detroit. Hanas (nine goals, 17 points in 30 games) made a favorable impression in Grand Rapids last season before being lost to injury. Wallinder (seven goals, 26 points in 50 games for BK Rogle) is coming off a strong season in Sweden and will play his first North American season for Grand Rapids in 2023-24. He’s a 6-foot-4 two-way defenseman.
A third second rounder, Theo Niederbach (drafted 51st overall), is developing slower than anticipated. Because he’s only 21, he’s in the maybe category.
GM Steve Yzerman dealt third-round pick Donovan Sebrango (drafted 63rd overall) in the Alex DeBrincat swap. The Senators liked Sebrango, and he’s from the Ottawa area. Considering how important DeBrincat is, the Red Wings earn some credit for using the asset.
Big Season for Viro
The Red Wings drafted goalie Jan Bednar (107th overall) and he has already signed with the Grand Rapids Griffins, although he may play with the Toledo Walleye this season. He’s in the mix.
The jury remains out on Eemil Viro (drafted 70th overall). Last season, the Griffins had an overcrowded defense and Viro was sent to the Toledo Walleye. This will be an important season for Viro to show he is on the path to the NHL. Like Niederbach, Viro is a “maybe.”
The Red Wings didn’t sign Alex Cotton and he played last season in Finland’s second tier league (Mestis).
College players Kyle Aucoin (drafted 156th overall) and Sam Stange (drafted 97th overall) seem like long-shots, although Stange was at the Red Wings’ development camp. Aucoin is at Harvard and Stange is at Wisconsin. Kienan Draper (drafted 171st overall) didn’t distinguish himself in his first college season at Michigan. But he’s Kris Draper’s son. Let’s see how his second season with the Wolverines goes.
Chase Bradley (drafted 203rd overall) had a quality college season at Connecticut (10 goals, 20 points in 35 games). The Red Wings still want to keep an eye on him.
Current Detroit 2020 Draft Scoreboard
Players drafted: 12
Played in the NHL: 1
Clear NHL potential: 2
Clear washout: 1
In College: 4
Signed by Griffins: 1