Kris Draper: The Man Holding The Keys To The Red Wings Rebuild

(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

New Director of Amateur Scouting, Kris Draper, will be key in rebuilding the Red Wings

Of all the moves that Steve Yzerman has made since becoming the GM last April, replacing Tyler Wright with Kris Draper as Director of Amateur Scouting may have the biggest impact on the Red Wing’s ability to rebuild its team.

Insert: Kris Draper

A retired player himself, Drapes has been a part of the Wings management staff since 2011, becoming Ken Holland’s right hand man.  While he learned the ropes through many of different roles, he has really stood out with his ability to identify quality players while scouting for the amateur draft.

Detroit has the unique advantage of having the US NTDP program in Plymouth, as well as OHL teams, right in their own backyard.  On the Red Wings off days, Kris took full advantage of this fact, watching the local prospects play.

Of the players Draper has scouted for the Wings, two of the most notable players they have selected are Tyler Bertuzzi and Givani Smith.

From what I’ve seen so far, if these picks are any indication of what’s to come, I am really excited about the Kris Draper era. Both Bertuzzi and Smith play with such an edge, the opposing team has no choice but to take notice when they are on the ice.

Bertuzzi is the smaller player of the two, but his game play shows a player that is fearless, with a strong skill set and a well-developed hockey IQ. This allows him the ability to play alongside the other superstars.  However, what he brings to his line is constant pressure, and his tenacity frustrates opponents, never letting them off the hook easily. From his forecheck pressure, battles on the walls, going after a loose puck and fighting for space on the ice, he is always involved.

Smith on the other hand, is a bigger, heavier player that will be more limited in his offensive potential comparatively.  What he brings to the table is a brand of hockey that is also not easy to play against.  He finishes every check and applies pressure until his opponents have no choice but to turn the puck over, make a hurried play, or he initiates a puck battle. He is also very willing to drop his gloves and stand up for himself and his teammates, which is something Detroit has not had in far too long.  While he plays on the power play down in Grand Rapids as a net front guy, at the NHL level, he will be a bottom 6 winger who will bring a Grind Line type mentality.

With the shift is the game today to more speed and skill, it is incredibly difficult to find players who have the ability to have the skills to play at the NHL level and also the willingness to play a hard and physical game.  You find either one or the other but rarely both.

The Red Wing’s rebuild is going to be largely determined by their draft picks, and in some cases some lottery luck.  Getting the #1 overall pick in any of the next few years will really expedite the rebuilding process, because they will be adding a true superstar and (fingers crossed) generational player. However, they cannot rely on that happening and will need their Amateur Scouting Dept. to uncover more players like Bertuzzi and Smith.  Identifying similar players type players in the later rounds to become part of their core team and position the organization for their next championship run.

Previously, with the drafts Tyler Wright ran, there was one common theme with the players he liked…they were SAFE.

One thing Steve Yzerman has already shown as the Red Wings GM, is that he is not going to sit on his hands and playing it safe isn’t going to be enough to get the team back up over the hump.

From what I have seen so far, I think the DNA of the players Kris Draper is going to bring to the Red Wings roster will be those that are ultra-competitive, who play the game hard and have an edge. If he can identify some more Bertuzzi and Smiths, the Red Wings it will greatly improve the team’s competitiveness and style of play along with creating a quicker path to our rebuild.

Kris Draper…  You are now on the clock.