Well here we are… a few days away from the 2011 Draft, and we’re finally getting into some guys that the Red Wings have a real shot at when they saunter up to the podium with the 24th selection.
We’ve already covered twenty of the top prospects for the big event, and it’s fair to say that the vast majority of them haven’t been on the Wings’ radar since they’re likely to go in the top half of the proceedings. But, like they always do, Detroit’s brass will find a wonderful player to add to their cupboard and hopefully you’ll know a handful of things about him thanks to these little lists.
In the last twenty NHL Drafts, the top Red Wings selection has grown into an NHL player 14 times (likely to be 17 when Riley Sheahan, Landon Ferraro, and Brendan Smith make the jump). That’s an incredible feat given the earliest they’ve picked in that time is 10 (Lapointe) and 19 (Kindl). The three that didn’t make it? Igor Grigorenko (picked 62nd), Jari Tolsa (120th), and Curtis Bowen (22nd in 1992).
Stay tuned later this week for our Mock Draft.
Before we get to the final ten prospects, here’s a look back at the first twenty:
PART I and PART II RECAP
1. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins
2. Adam Larsson
3. Gabriel Landeskog
4. Sean Couturier
5. Ryan Strome
6. Ryan Murphy
7. Jonathan Huberdeau
8. Dougie Hamilton
9. Brandon Saad
10. Tyler Biggs
11. Mika Zibanejad
12. Joel Armia
13. Duncan Siemens
14. Sven Baertschi
15. Nathan Beaulieu
16. Jamieson Oleksiak
17. Ty Rattie
18. Daniel Catenacci
19. Vladislav Namestnikov
20. Mark McNeill
21. Matthew Puempel, LW, Peterborough Petes (OHL), 6-0, 190
Noted as “one of the premiere scorers of the bunch” who may be the victim of playing on a poor Peterborough team, Matt Puempel is — by all accounts — one of the more talented kids available in the draft, and will make a name for himself in the NHL with his shot strength and quick release. He’s not a two-way guy, with his defensive skill listed as “poor,” so he may not be on the Wings radar, but he’s a dynamic kid and someone’s going to get a good one.
22. Oscar Klefbom, D, Farjestads BK (SEL), 6-3, 210
Headlined as “The Other Big Swedish Defenseman,” Klefbom is a swift skater — even though he’s a large body — and is a defense-first kind of guy. He has good puck skills, so he’ll probably learn how to contribute to the offense, but it’s not a part of his natural game just yet. Scouts compare him to (waiiiiit for it….) JONATHAN ERICSSON! Gasp. Do Not. Want.
23. Boone Jenner, C, Oshawa Generals (OHL), 6-1, 193
PROBABLY wins the third round of the prospects previews’ best name game, though he’ll get some competition a few slots down with the deigo. Jenner sounds like a tough sumbitch, that coaches and teammates love, but fans of opposite teams absolutely despise. By some accounts, he’s a top ten pick, but that’s going to be tough in this draft class, but it’s not a stretch to say that he’s a very safe first round pick.
24. Connor Murphy, D, USNTDP, 6-3, 185
Committed to play at the University of Miami, so whoever selects him will have a long time to sit and watch as he develops (think Riley Sheahan). He’s coming off of an injury, so this past season was a bit of a wash following a strong Hlinka Tournament. You remember his dad, Gord Murphy, who played for the Bruins, Flyers, Thrashers, and Panthers, where he’s currently an assistant coach.
25. Rocco Grimaldi, C, USNTDP, 5-6, 160
Another collegiate commitment, this time to North Dakota. He’s obviously a small kid, so it wouldn’t be terribly shocking to see him slide another few slots into the second round. Nevertheless, he’s — and I quote — “the most skilled forward in the Draft.” He’s incredibly fast (obviously), great hockey IQ, and excellent vision, so someone will probably take a flier on him late in the first, or early in the second, and hope he turns into Marty St. Louis or Danny Briere. Maybe Edmonton or Boston — both of whom have two first rounders and/or early second rounders.
26. Joseph Morrow, D, Portland Winterhawks (WHL), 6-0, 197
Good size, good puck mover, good skater. Sounds like a no-brainer, right? So why is he near the bottom of the first round? Well, apparently he has some issues in his own zone and needs some work getting his shot off quicker, even though that shot ends up being pretty nifty. He sounds like a great power play point guy, and he has the bloodlines (a brother and father who played in the NHL), so he may be another safe bet.
27. Jonas Brodin, D, Farjestads BK (SEL), 6-1, 169
As a Wings fan, this is the guy I have my eye on for the Wings to snatch up at #24. Beautiful skater, physical, great hockey sense, excellent mobility, outlet passing, incredible composure… he’s the full package and is in the Wings wheelhouse. The reasons he’d drop this low will sound familiar: he has to work on his strength, and he’ll need to continue developing an offensive prowess to be an impact NHL defenseman. He’s been compared to Ryan Suter, and that ain’t bad.
28. David Musil, D, Vancouver Giants (WHL), 6-3, 191
Son of Frank Musil… nephew of Bobby Holik… raised in Canada… plays for the Czech international teams. But, and this may surprise you, he doesn’t play an overly physical game, despite being related to those two and having excellent size for a teenager. He’s one of the better defense-only guys in the bunch, but there are some red flags including refusing to play for a team that drafted him in the CHL Draft.
29. Tomas Jurco, RW, Saint John SeaDogs (QMJHL), 6-2, 193
Compared to Erik Christiensen, and Pavel Datsyuk-on-Jurco’s-Best-Day, the young Slovakian has good size, excellent passing ability, and nasty stickhandling. The downside is that he’s not particularly willing to play the checking role — he doesn’t backcheck or forecheck well, and has yet to embrace that energy line role he’ll likely have to play at some point along the road to the NHL — or within it.
30. Scott Mayfield, Youngstown Phantoms (USHL), 6-4, 200
For the third time on this preview, we meet another kid that’s committed to a collegiate program — this time at Denver. He isn’t projected to be a puck-moving defenseman, instead contributing to offense, and solidly backchecking.
And there you have it… thirty guys to keep an eye on. If we’re lucky, the Wings somehow found their way to two of them… maybe by trading down, a la 2009. If you’re looking for a goaltender, you’ll notice that one didn’t pop up in the first thirty. John Gibson is the top tender available, but I’d be surprised if he went in the first round.
Photo Credit: Ian Goodall Photography