3 players the Detroit Red Wings should consider with the No. 9 overall pick

(Photo by Jonathan Kozub/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jonathan Kozub/Getty Images) /

The Detroit Red Wings entered last night’s NHL Draft Lottery with a 5% chance to secure the No. 1 overall pick. As you know, the lottery hasn’t been kind to Detroit since implemented by the league, so most Red Wings fans braced for heartbreak once again. Detroit seems to always fall in these situations, but I can’t help but remember when the Red Wings had the best odds to secure the top overall pick in 2020 yet fell to pick No. 4.

In addition to the 5% odds for the No. 1 pick, Detroit had a 5.2% chance at the No. 2 overall pick and a 10.4% chance to land a top-three choice. Of course, their best odds had been to remain in their current position with a 64.4% chance of picking No. 9.

By now, you’ve heard that the Detroit Red Wings will not be in a position to land either of the 2023 prized-possession forwards. Connor Bedard of the Regina Pats (WHL) is expected to be selected first overall by the Chicago Blackhawks, followed by Michigan’s Adam Fantilli. Fantilli is expected to head out west to Anaheim. He finished as the NCAA’s top scorer and became just the third freshman to win the Hobey Baker Award this past season. After those two top prospects go, it’s Leo Carlsson and Matvei Michkov next in line to be selected. You may have seen Carlsson playing on a line with Lucas Raymond and Jonatan Berggren at the World Championships. The trio recently combined for a gorgeous goal that can be seen here.

Three players the Detroit Red Wings need to consider picking with the No. 9 overall pick.

A few weeks ago, Max Bultman of The Athletic (subscription) predicted that the Detroit Red Wings would select forward Ryan Leonard. Leonard, 18, is a 6-foot, 192-pound winger from the U.S. NTDP, where he’s spent his last two seasons. Leonard scored ten times in his first year and totaled 15 points through 33 games. Leonard tallied 19 points this past season, including ten goals over 16 games, and was a plus-21 with the National Development Team. Leonard is currently committed to Boston College.

Another player to watch is right-handed defenseman David Reinbacher. Reinbacher is a 6-foot-2 defender that plays around 190 pounds and fills a huge need for the Detroit Red Wings on the right side of their backend.

This past season the Detroit Red Wings created a void in their lineup by trading Filip Hronek to the Vancouver Canucks for a haul that includes a first-round selection that currently sits No. 18th overall via the New York Islanders. This past season, Reinbacher scored three goals and totaled 22 points over 46 games playing for Kloten HC of the Swiss-A league. Reinbacher was also a top player for Austria at the 2023 world juniors. He’s a tremendous skater, and his large frame allows him to be an eraser. Reinbacher projects to be a top-pairing NHL defender, so fitting in nicely behind Moritz Seider seems like a championship-building backend. A trio of Seider, Simon Edvinsson, and Reinbacher for years to come on Detroit’s backend would be significant.

A third player to watch is Brayden Yager. Yager, 18, is a 6-foot center that excels in all situations. Sound familiar? A reliable two-way center in all three zones is a player Steve Yzerman tends to gravitate toward. That’s essentially what we were told about Marco Kasper after Yzerman and the Detroit Red Wings made their selection.

Yager has spent the last three seasons with the Moose Jaw Warriors of the Western Hockey League (WHL). This past season the projected top-15 pick totaled 28 goals and 78 points in 67 contests. That followed a 34-goal, 59-point season a year ago. I am a big believer in building a roster down the middle from the inside out.

The Detroit Red Wings have a glaring need at the center position throughout their roster. After Dylan Larkin, there are a bunch of question marks. Hopefully, Kasper will be the player we believe he will be and solidify the second center position. After that, it’s Andrew Copp, Joe Veleno, Pius Suter, and co., with others that can play the part but are better suited on the wing, such as Michael Rasmussen and Robby Fabbri.

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If Detroit can add more depth at center, Copp may find himself shifted to the wing, where he played alongside Kasper for a game this season when Detroit’s top pick from a year ago made his NHL debut. A hard-working player like Yager would be a welcomed addition to Detroit.