As we inch closer to the end of the 2022-23 regular season, many Detroit Red Wings fans have plenty on their mind, whether it is anticipating the NHL debut of Marco Kasper or evaluating Simon Edvinsson down the stretch. But it’s also mock draft season, especially for the fans of the organizations that won’t be taking part in the NHL postseason.
Max Bultman of The Athletic (subscription) recently released a mock draft called 1.0 which predicts the Detroit Red Wings’ two first-round picks in the 2022-23 NHL Entry level Draft. Bultman used the famous mock draft website Tankathon for the exercise. The top four picks went as follows; Connor Bedard to Montreal, Adam Fantilli to Columbus, and Chicago selected Leo Carlsson, allowing the Sharks to pick Matvei Michkov, who is often considered the third-best prospect in the draft.
Ironically, my favorite prospect outside the consensus top-three, center Will Smith, went fifth overall to the Anaheim Ducks. Ducks general manager Pat Verbeek spent a lot of time as Steve Yzerman’s right-hand man as an assistant general manager before getting an opportunity to be ‘the guy’ with the Ducks. Smith would be a tremendous selection for an organization like Detroit that needs to continue to bolster the middle of its lineup.
Now let’s fast forward to ten, where the Detroit Red Wings will make their first selection.
In this particular mock draft, the Detroit Red Wings didn’t fall in the lottery, which is progress; the lottery hasn’t done the organization any favors over the years. With the tenth overall pick, the Detroit Red Wings select Ryan Leonard. Leonard is a winger from the U.S. NTDP. Leonard totaled 19 points, including ten goals over 16 games, and was a plus-21 with the National Development Team this season.
Bultman acknowledges that Leonard is a well-rounded winger and would fit nicely in Detroit’s top nine but also mentions that many of their natural fits and players that fill an immediate need have been selected before nine. The Detroit Red Wings really need a top right-handed defense prospect, and David Reinbacher fits the bill but was gobbled up by the Arizona Coyotes. As mentioned, Will Smith would be the perfect consolation prize to Bedard, Fantilli, and Michkov.
As it stands now, unfortunately, the Detroit Red Wings would be picking 19th overall, thanks to a New York Islanders hot streak. In this situation, the Red Wings took defenseman Dmitri Simashev of the MHL (Russia). The problem? Simashev is yet another left-handed defense prospect who only adds to a cluttered cupboard. The Detroit Red Wings are projected to start five left-handed defenders next year, with others, such as William Wallinder and Albert Johansson, waiting in the wings.
Just for kicks
I decided to run the Tankathon mock draft, and needless to say, the results were very interesting. First off, Arizona moved up five slots to win the NHL Draft Lottery and selected Bedard. Now, if that isn’t the most Gary Bettman thing I’ve seen. Fantilli went second to Columbus, and Michkov was picked third by Chicago.
Like The Athletic, the Detroit Red Wings remained with the ninth overall pick but selected Eduard Sale. Sale,18, is a 6-foot-1 winger who plays in the Czech league. This season he recorded seven goals and 14 points over 43 games. In Bultman’s article, Sale went no.15 to the Ottawa Senators.
The Detroit Red Wings secured the no. 18 overall pick in this simulation and predicted the selection to be defenseman Mikhail Gulyayev. Gulyayev, 17, is a right-handed defense prospect that played 13 games in the KHL with Omsk Avangard, where he recorded one assist.