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Detroit Red Wings

Who the Red Wings Should Have Drafted



Theodor Niederbach, Detroit Red Wings prospect
The Red Wings didn't sign 2020 second-round pick Theodor Niederbach.

Drafting is not an exact science, as we will be reminded later this month when the Red Wings attend the NHL entry draft in Las Vegas.

You know the no-brainer picks, the Connor McDavids or the Steve Yzermans of the world, who are drafted high and are worth every nickel.

No matter what sport you are discussing, your mileage may vary on drafted players. It’s difficult to find any consistency in draft history. Fans must hold their breath as drafted players climb through a farm system. Some fall prey to injuries, some are traded, a few blossom elsewhere, and others are misses.

Some are big misses.

In hindsight, of course, you look at the numbers. Then it’s obvious.

But it’s not always obvious on draft day. Sports fans in Detroit know that. When Darko Milicic was drafted by the Detroit Pistons 20-plus years ago, not a single observer questioned the decision. He checked out all the boxes evaluators were looking for and had a legendary workout before the draft. He was a can’t-miss prospect.

Until he did.

Milicic was the second overall pick, taken ahead of (in order), Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade, all of whom became stars.  Big stars.

The last few years of the Ken Holland regime had plenty of misses, although not as disastrous. Still, the failure of a half-dozen choices have  hampered the Red Wings during their decade in the playoff wilderness.

Can’t-Miss Prospects Who Did

Theodor Neiderbach

Where Taken:  Second round, No. 51 overall in 2020.

NHL Stats: None. He’s the most recent pick on the list, one of three second-round picks in 2020 and one of two Yzerman picks on the list. He was drafted out of Sweden and never scored more than nine goals in a season.

Could Have Had: Will Cuylle (13 goals in 81 games last season with N.Y. Rangers), No, 60 overall; Alex Laferriere (12 goals in 81  games for Los Angeles last season.

Evgeny Svechnikov

Where Taken: First round, No, 19 overall in 2015.

NHL Stats: Five goals in 41 games for Detroit. After a season each at Winnipeg and San Jose, played in the KHL last year. His brother, Andrei, is a standout at Carolina.

Could Have Had: Sebastian Aho (254 goals for Carolina), Brock Boeser (40 goals for Vancouver last year), Travis Konecny (33 goals for Philadelphia last season) .

Filip Zadina

Where Taken: First round, No. 6 overall, 2018

NHL Stats: Had a career-high 13 goals in San Jose last season; 28 in parts of five seasons in Detroit.

Could Have Had: Any one of three standout defensemen —Vancouver’s Quinn Hughes (Next pick in that draft), Edmonton’s Evan Bouchard, New York Islanders’ Noah Dobson. Hughes was playing at Michigan.

Dennis Cholowski

Where Taken: First round, No. 20 overall, 2016.

NHL Stats: Has 10 career goals, all with Detroit, seven in his rookie season in 2018-19. Spent last season at Bridgeport (AHL), Never lived up to expectations.

Could Have Had: Alex DeBrincat (Drafted 39th overall by Blackhawks. Some teams had him ranked in first round.

Givani Smith

Where Taken: Second round, No. 46 overall, 2016.

NHL Stats: Nine career goals, seven with Detroit. Had one goal with San Jose last season.

Could Have Had: Colorado defenseman Samuel Girard (Next pick, by Nashville).

Jared McIsaac

Where Taken:  Second round, No. 46, 2018.

NHL Stats: None. After playing parts of four seasons in Grand Rapids, McIsaac ended the season at Providence. He is a free agent.

Could Have Had: Edmonton’s Ryan McLeod (No. 40), Toronto’s Sean Durzi (No. 52)

Robert Mastrosimone

Where Taken: Second Round, No. 54, 2019.

NHL Stats: None. Red Wings didn’t sign him after he finished his college career at Arizona State. He played last season at Toronto (AHL).

C0uld Have Had: Vegas’ Pavel Dorefeyev (No. 79) and Arizona’s Matias Maccelli (No. 98, 2019)

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Ken Youmg

Holland destroyed this team. Now he’s in Edmonton doing the same thing. No goaltending. No D. His contract is up June 30. He won’t be rehired. He’s a HOF Fraud.


I would argue that Joel Eriksson Ek was alot bigger need (outside of Aho) of the player stated we “should rather have drafted” over Evgeny Svechnikov… He would have been the perfect fit down the middle… I remember screaming for him to get picked for Detroit at the time, seemed like a typical Red Wings draftèe, a skilled two way center… His contract in Minnesota atm is amongst the biggest steals in the leauge…

John Parham

Yzerman and company have done a great job with their first round picks but rounds 2-7 have been underwhelming. With 44 picks in those rounds, including 7 seconds, they’ve failed to land a star player. Mazur and Augustine may develop into great players but that’s a short list.

Michael Zack

You are way to easy on the DRWs. They need to clean out the scouting department. It has continually failed.

Michael Zack

Please name names of the scouting department decision makers. Clearly, that is where the fault resides. Yzerman approves the picks, but he doesn’t generate the board. In reality, based on results, he should veto all picks after the first rd. The only consistent name I know of is Chris Draper been involved in drafting since Holland. Look at Nill results in Dallas. Nothing is more damaging than missed draft picks.

Mike Babcock

Yzerman drafted Kris Draper’s son, Kienan, so he can pretend to be a hockey player for a few years before he has to get a real job.

Maybe Newsy has a son who can be drafted?

Mike Babcock

The Quinn Hughes blunder still looms heavily over the Red Wings.

Some of us begged Kenny to draft him.

But Kenny said he was too small.

He would’ve drafted Evan Bouchard if Zadina hadn’t fallen.

But Kenny couldn’t say no to the overrated Q star, Zadina.

Noah Dobson was also available. 🙄

Last edited 8 hours ago by Mike Babcock