The Detroit Red Wings are in the midst of a heated race: the race for the number one overall pick at the 2013 Entry Draft. And, if the last week is any indication the Wings have as good of a shot as any at landing that first overall selection come June.
No this is not the kind of race we have come accustomed to in Hockeytown for the last two plus decades.
And, some of you might argue that I’m jumping the gun on this one having not even reached the midway mark of the NHL season. As well, many experts might point to the ever growing list of injuries the Wings have endured early in the year (7 regulars out as of right now) to rationalize Detroit’s slow start to the regular season.
Certainly, Detroit has been dealt more than their fair share of injuries up to this point of the season. No question about it the Wings are definitely the walking wounded.
But, if you think injuries alone can explain why as of today the Wings sit outside the Western Conference playoff picture, I’m here to tell you that’s just not the case. I hope you’re ready for a hard dose of reality because here it is: the Wings are a bad hockey team.
You want some proof?
Detroit has the 25th overall powerplay (30th on road and are only team who hasn’t scored a powerplay goal away from home), 24th penalty kill (30th on the road), and are 20th in Goals Against Average.
It’s all injuries… really?
You might want to mull over this piece of information; Detroit’s top three players: Datsyuk, Zetterberg, and Kronwall have participated in every one of those goalless road powerplays except for one game (when Datsyuk sat out against the Ducks). Yet, despite continually having their best players in the lineup the Wings have managed to go 0 for 28 on the man advantage away from the Joe.
Heading into Thursday night’s tilt with the last place Blue Jackets, the Wings only lead a rinky dink Columbus team by a measly 7 points in the standings. Not to mention the fact that Detroit is coming off a pitiful stretch where they have dropped four consecutive games (2 to divisional foes).
Recently when describing Detroit’s current predicament coach Mike Babcock said the Wings “are taking on water.” Well Mike I’m here to tell you that if these stats don’t drastically improve in a hurry the Wings will be completely submerged in short order.
Whether we like it or not, last place is right where the Wings need to be.
Battling Columbus for last place might not be such a horrible thing for an organization that hasn’t had a top 10 draft pick in the last 20 seasons.
In fact, the last time the Wings drafted that high was in 1991 when they selected Martin Lapointe 10th overall. Actually, the highest the Wings have drafted since 1991 is 19th when they took Jakub Kindl in 2005 (Ken Holland might like a mulligan on that one).
When you take a quick glance at the last four Stanley Cup Championship winning teams, their draft picks tell the real story:
4. The Los Angeles Kings might be the best example of what can happen when a team bottoms out. In 2008, with the 2nd pick overall the Kings selected defenseman Drew Doughty. And, with their 11th pick in the 2005 draft L.A. hit the jackpot with Anze Kopitar. Not to be left out, in 2003 the Kings took Dustin Brown 13th overall.
So, this brings us to Seth Jones.
Jones is a towering blueliner at 6’3, 210lbs, and still growing. He has a cannon for a shot, can kill penalties, and will quarterback the powerplay. He skates very well (especially for his size), and makes a quality first pass.
NHL Central Scouting has ranked defenseman Jones as the number one prospect in junior hockey. He has drawn comparisons as a less physical Chris Pronger, and as a blueliner who thinks the game like Nicklas Lidstrom. Sounds like a pretty good combination to me!
If the wheels continue to fall off this Red Wing team, GM Ken Holland would be best served to let Detroit take on all of the water they can.
Allowing the Wings sink to the bottom of the NHL ocean and rise to the top of the Entry Draft rankings just might be the best thing that could happen for this organization… because as a wise Ricky Bobby once said: “If you ain’t first you’re last.”