There are not many guarantees going into the draft unless you are picking first or second. For the Detroit Red Wings, it’s merely Byram or bust picking sixth for the second straight year.
Of course, Detroit Red Wings fans wished they had won the draft lottery or moved up from fourth to second, but that wasn’t the case. The team actually slipped down to sixth. It will be the second straight year the team will pick in the six spot.
Last year forward Filip Zadina who was projected to be chosen third overall slipped to the Detroit Red Wings at six. The scoring forward, unfortunately, was unable to make an immediate impact with the team. He’s shown a lot of potential after a terribly slow start with the Grand Rapids Griffins in the AHL.
The Wings who need a young impactful defenseman badly were expected to pick Evan Bouchard from the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League. Once Zadina slipped, Ken Holland changed his path taking the sniper.
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Leading up to the draft understanding Dahlin would be selected first with Andri Svechnikov going second I had hope that Zadina would fall to the Wings but considered that wishful thinking. After selecting Zadina, I, like many fans penciled the kid right in on the Wings as a top-six forward right away. He might get there, but it was apparent it will take some time.
Bouchard might be an outstanding professional down the road but looking back one year removed from last years’ draft class the pick should have been Quinn Hughes. He was fantastic with the Michigan Wolverines last year. He made his Vancouver Canucks debut after his college hockey commitment was completed; he looked great showing off his mobility. I feel that should have been the pick over Bouchard when evaluating those two.
Since the Detroit Red Wings didn’t draft a defenseman in the first round last year, Bowen Byram should be the main target this summer. The defenseman is mobile; he’s by far the top defensive prospect in the draft. He excelled offensively this year with the Vancouver Giants, a member of the Western Hockey League.
Bowen Byram recorded 71 points in 67 games including 26 goals. He plays with a bit of an edge as he accumulated 80 penalty minutes while skating as a plus 33. During 15 playoff games, Byram has continued his offensive excellence recording 18 points.
Byram is an elite skater, in today’s hockey having a player on the back end who can weave through traffic, carrying the puck from the defensive zone into the opponents’ end is something coveted throughout the league. Being able to play with the pace of play is critical today, Byram can.
Like many young defensemen, he will need some time to work on the defensive side of his game, but I would expect a Cholowski type player with a higher ceiling. Byram is 6’0 tall and plays around 180-pounds. As he grows into his frame expect him to add an additional ten or so pounds.
The only downside I see is Bowen being left-handed. That is not a deal breaker, but in a perfect world, the team would add another right-handed defenseman. Bowen Byram would be the ideal fit for the Detroit Red Wings but will he be available at six?
Quickly breaking it down, we expect Hughes and Kakko to be selected 1-2. The Chicago Blackhawks selected a defenseman early last year, picking third I hope them to take either Vasili Podkolzin from Russia, but if they are nervous about his availability, Dylan Cozens would be a perfect fit there.
The Colorado Avalanche pick fourth via the Ottawa Senators, they should be looking at a forward to add depth. The Avs’ has one of the best lines in hockey but after their shift ends the rest of the lineup drops off. Either Cozens, Podkolzin, or Turcotte should be on their radar.
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The L.A Kings are the team best suited to ruin the Detroit Red Wings party. Bowen Byram should be on their radar after trading Jake Muzzin to the Toronto Maple Leafs last season. Unless a forward really catches their eye, I expect Byram to go to the Kings ruining everyone’s day in Detroit. Not only would it be insult to injury if he was picked before the Wings had an opportunity to get him, the pick just prior would be almost unbearable.