Life-long dreams are realized for hockey players when they hear their names called at the NHL draft every year, whether in the first or seventh round. This year, Detroit Red Wings General Manager (GM) Steve Yzerman added 11 players to that list of dreams come true, headlined by first-round picks Nate Danielson and Axel Sandin Pelikka.
But the process has just begun for both these new prospects and the organization itself. Between development on and off the ice, maturation, and adjustments to gameplay styles, the journey to the NHL has just begun.
On top of the excitement felt by the players and their loved ones, the excitement can always be felt by Detroit Red Wings fans. Including wanting to know where they played, who they are comparable to, and who they played with; the biggest thing people usually wonder is, “What’s next for these kids?”
So what is next for the 11 players from the 2023 Detroit Red Wings draft class?
Off to school
Two players from the 2023 draft class are graduating from the U.S. National Developmental Program (USNDP) to play college hockey this season. Second-round pick Trey Augustine will be heading to East Lansing to tend the net for Michigan State and will join up with fellow Red Wing 2021 draft pick Red Savage.
Joining Augustine in the college ranks is fellow second-round pick Brady Cleveland, who will be manning the back end for the Wisconsin Badgers, joined by 2022 fourth-round pick Sam Stange and 2022 seventh-round pick Owen Mallenbacher.
Detroit Red Wings No. 9 overall pick center Nate Danielson, seventh-round pick center Emmitt Finnie and second-round pick defenseman Andrew Gibson will all be returning to Canada to play with Brandon (WHL), Kamloops (WHL), and Soo (OHL), respectively. Meanwhile, fifth-round pick defenseman Jack Phelan will remain stateside with a return to Sioux Falls of the USHL before moving on to play for the Wisconsin Badgers (NCAA) in 2024.
Two picks are making the jump from high school prep hockey to major junior hockey this season. Fourth-round pick defenseman Larry Keenan will be heading to Penticton of the BCHL and is committed to UMass for the 2024 season.
Sixth-round pick goalie Rudy Guimond will be backstopping for Cedar Rapids of the USHL for presumably the next two seasons before heading off to Yale in 2025.
Third-round pick left winger Noah Dower Nilsson is expected to return to Sweden and stick with the Frolunda organization, while fifth-round-pick left winger Kevin Bicker is making the jump from Jungadler Mannheim to Lowen Frankfurt of the DEL in Germany.