The Detroit Red Wings may not end up with the first overall selection, if they slide to third or fourth, NTDP captain Jake Sanderson is worth a look.
Detroit Red Wings fans know how unlucky the team has been in recent time, so the reality of them falling beyond the first overall pick are decently high. If they do fall beyond the first overall selection, they have a choice to make for who is worthy of their first-round draft choice.
In a talent-filled draft, they will have to decide which of the talents they want, and they cannot overlook Jake Sanderson. Originally projected as a mid-round draft choice, a strong season with the United States National Team Development Program (NTDP) captain proved otherwise.
Though the end of the seasons in most places have been cancelled or postponed, Sanderson’s strong campaign with NTDP has vaulted him into top-five pick consideration. He can arguably be looked at as the second-best defenseman in the 2020 draft class behind Jamie Drysdale.
Sanderson is a seventeen-year-old defenseman who will be eighteen come July and was the captain of the NTDP team this season.
He is a left-handed defenseman who stands 6-foot-1 at 185-pounds hailing from Whitefish, Montana.
In 47 games with the NTDP squad in 2019-20, Sanderson would score seven goals while registering 22 assists for 29 total points on the season.
He was also a plus-12 on the season with NTDP but also played 19 games with the USHL NTDP squad. In those 19 games, Sanderson would go on to register two goals and 12 assists for 14 points, while being plus-eight.
Looking at his style of play, he may play well alongside Red Wings 2019 first-round selection, Moritz Seider. The two may play well together if the Red Wings choose to draft Sanderson, but Yzerman will still have to give some real thought into Jamie Drysdale and his offensive upside.
Sanderson is more of a strong and physical defender who will pinch in the offensive zone, throw the body around, and play sound defense. Sanderson is very similar to Seider, who many overlooked last season having him as a mid-first round candidate similar to Sanderson.
He can play very sound defense, be an exceptional net-front presence, and read the play well and make adjustments based on what he sees. His ability to go into the corner put pressure on an opposing puck carrier, and force mistakes or turnovers also would make him valuable to the Red Wings future.
As shown in his stats, Sanderson finds his way onto the scoresheet but is not a Mike Green-style goal-scoring offensive defenseman. Sanderson might pair well with Seider since the two have a very similar style of play, whereas Drysdale and Seider are sort of opposites.
Not to say that Drysdale is not the defender to select, but Sanderson deserves a look with whatever pick the Detroit Red Wings do end up with if it is not first overall.