Detroit Red Wings: Steve Yzerman likes his Draft Options at Six

(Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images) /

One thing about Detroit Red Wings GM Steve Yzerman, he never tips his hand.  He’s very good with deception when speaking to the media; he won’t tell the rest of the league precisely what he thinks before he completes a roster move.

In a perfect world, the Detroit Red Wings will select defenseman Bowen Byram with the sixth overall pick.  The defender is expected to be far and away the top defender in the NHL draft.  Byram isn’t likely to be available when the Wings walk up to the podium to announce their selection.

In recent weeks the Chicago Blackhawks have been linked to Byram; they own the third pick in the draft.  Over the weekend they made a trade with the Pittsburgh Penguins landing themselves a good defender in Olli Maatta.  I wonder now if the Hawks are willing to pass on Byram and select a forward instead.

Chicago selected Swedish defenseman Adam Boqvist eighth overall last year.  Byram seems to have a higher ceiling than Boqvist so I wouldn’t totally rule out Chicago picking him, but with Maatta joining the team they may go in a different direction which will change the landscape of every other teams’ draft board.  If Byram indeed does fall, I expect him to be scooped up by the L.A Kings — one pick in front of the Detroit Red Wings.

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The NHL Draft Lottery is fun when it works out, take the Blackhawks for example.  They were expected to pick outside of the top ten and are lucky enough to climb all the way to three.  When it doesn’t work out, it sucks.  The Avalanche were expected to pick first via Ottawa but slipped to fourth; where the Detroit Red Wings were initially slated to pick.

Unfortunately, the Red Wings slipped from four to six; they would have had a real shot at Byram, now they need a miracle for that to happen.  There is a glimmer of hope though, Filip Zadina was by all accounts expected to go third overall yet slipped to the Red Wings at six.  Sometimes surprises happen, let’s hope for an unusual couple of choices.

It appears Steve Yzerman is prepared to select a forward at the moment.  He recently expressed his interest in the crop of centers’ saying he likes what he sees down the middle in particular.  The Wings will have an opportunity to pick between Dylan Cozens, Kirby Dach, Alex Turcotte, Trevor Zegras along with wingers Vasili Podkolzin, Cole Caufield. I understand some of these players will have already been selected when the Wings pick, but some will also be available.

Yzerman later would mention he isn’t tied to picking a specific position, or a player with a particular body type; meaning a smaller player or power- forward type are both options. Yzerman mentioned he’s focusing on a group of six or seven players, and will pick the best player available regardless of what position he plays.  I feel the six I’ve mentioned are the front runners.

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Although I firmly believe Ken Holland and his team did a tremendous job drafting last season; I’ve never felt this comfortable heading into the draft.  I have full confidence in Steve Yzerman, not because of his playing career and he’s my favorite athlete of all-time.  It’s because of his successful track record as a General Manager.  In Yzerman we trust, whatever he decides, I will be ecstatic.  Don’t forget in addition to the sixth overall pick; the Detroit Red Wings have nine other choices including three picks in the second round.