Did the Detroit Red Wings play it safe taking The Taxi, Michael Brandsegg-Nygård?

The Detroit Red Wings selected Brandsegg-Nygård at 15th overall, but was it too safe? 
2024 Upper Deck NHL Draft - First Round
2024 Upper Deck NHL Draft - First Round / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

On June 28, 2024, history was made in more ways than one.

Personally, we had a small family gathering to watch the 2024 National Hockey League (NHL) Entry Level Draft. It was the first time my parents, and possibly my aunt and uncle, watched an NHL draft.

Sitting on the edges of our seats (or pacing), we impatiently waited while admiring Detroit Red Wings general manager, Steve Yzerman, vice president of hockey operations, Nicklas Lidström, and assistant general manager and director of amateur scouting Kris Draper.

“Can we just select Lidström with the 15th overall pick?” I remarked, only half-joking. At a young 54 years of age, Lidström would really help solidify a wonky blueline.

Interestingly, Lidström made a bit of a face before the guys started their traipse to the podium. It’s a slight contrast to the Perfect Human face that we are accustomed to seeing from Lidström, but it was fun to see. 

Alas, after a quick break on their hike to the podium, the guys were ready to make their selection.

I had to ask myself: did the Detroit Red Wings play it safe with their 15th overall pick in the 2024 NHL Draft by picking Michael Brandsegg-Nygård?

Imagine my surprise that Lidström announced the player selected, those honors usually go to Yzerman (unless he’s under the weather, like in the 2020 NHL Entry Level Draft).  I figured The Perfect Human would not, in fact, select himself--thus dashing my hopes of his return to the Detroit Red Wings lineup.

As a European player selected in the 1989 NHL Entry Level Draft, many people questioned the Detroit Red Wings taking Lidström so high. Also, he likely had a better Norwegian vocabulary than his counterparts.

Just as Lidström helped elevate not only Swedish hockey, he helped build respect for his country. If a player like Lidström didn’t work out well for the Detroit Red Wings, other players might have stepped up in his place, but their climb up the proverbial ladder would have been that much harder.

Imagine if he posted swastikas on social media or used racial slurs. 

It’s something a North American player doesn’t have to ever fret about. They (people, dad, people) will just focus on his on-ice contributions, forgetting about the off-ice antics as ESPN stated on their broadcast for the 2024 NHL Entry Level Draft. He’ll even get selected by the host team, because his skills are just too good to pass up.

Instead, Lidström is synonymous with top defensemen of all time in the NHL. He’s an ambassador for his sport, country, and his team.

Incredibly, Lidström had the honor of passing his baton to the first Norwegian player selected in the first round of the NHL Entry Level Draft. Yes, the circumstances are different, but the emotions for me run the same. To share it with my family makes it that much meaningful.

Meanwhile, Norway is in the early stages of their climb up the proverbial ladder. An exciting time is upon us as we get to see what a new country brings to the ice hockey table as fans, and we had a small taste this summer in the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) Men’s World Hockey Championship.

For the second time ever, Norway beat Canada:

Although Brandsegg-Nygård didn’t suit up in the game, he played in 7 games for Norway and recorded 3 goals, 2 assists for 5 total points, and 4 penalty minutes.

Throughout my Twittersphere search, I thought I would find mixed reviews. Alarmed, I saw far more negative and “meh” reactions to the pick than content or happiness.

It’s odd to me.

I’m not sure if maybe people are still mad at Yzerman for the Jake Walman trade and they’re taking it out on this pick, but it’s a good pick.

Contrary to questionable character, Brandsegg-Nygǎrd shared his thoughts of inspiring young players in Norway:

"[Mats] Zuccarello helped me a lot with his NHL experience and gives me a lot of motivation. Hopefully me and [Stian] Solberg can give a lot of kids back in Norway the motivation to get going."


Prior to this draft, “only 4 Norwegians have been drafted over the past decade, and just 23 dating back to…1978. Even Zuccarello went undrafted.”  

For context, Zuccarello is the most successful Norwegian player to date, at 15 years and still counting, Brandsegg-Nygård has a trail already started that he can follow.

I get that people want something spicy, sexy, or flare. Maybe Brandsegg-Nygård doesn’t check those boxes for you, or maybe you want him a Winged Wheel next season, I can see the disappointment.

However, there’s more to like about this unique pick than just his country of origin. 

Our Bald Draft King gave his two cents on Brandsegg-Nygård as well:

To me, Brandsegg-Nygård is not just a two-way winger. He possesses an excellent shot, nurturing his playmaking side of things, and is joining a powerhouse in the Swedish Hockey League (SHL) with Skellefteå. 

If I trust any team in developing a forward, it’s Skellefteå. They have a history of developing high-end wingers and I suspect they’ll do the same with Brandsegg-Nygård. 

While seemingly safe, I think it’s exactly the player the Detroit Red Wings needed. A glass slipper so to speak, in a few years time I think fans will love Brandsegg-Nygård.

The Detroit Red Wings lack a spine, especially up front. I can hear people who say that Marco Kasper plays a similar game, but Kasper is a center as opposed to a winger. Additionally, word on the street is that Brandsegg-Nygård has a wicked shot, something the Detroit Red Wings desperately need. While Kasper has a decent shot, I wouldn't describe it as his best asset (his inner drive is his best asset).

Another point, if I may, the Detroit Red Wings aren't very good at developing the highly touted, high-end forwards. Let's peruse the prospects from the 2018 NHL Entry Level Draft, shall we?

Filip Zadina, Jonatan Berggren, and Joseph Veleno were drafted in 2018. Zadina preferred forfeiting millions of dollars in favor of a new start. That's how badly he wanted out of the Detroit Red Wings system. While Berggren and Veleno are still part of the organization, neither has flourished.

Arguably, Berggren has played well for the Grand Rapids Griffins and in 2022-23, he seemed destined to stick with the big club. Fate had another idea, and by fate I mean Yzerman and Detroit Red Wings head coach Derek Lalonde. I think there are still reasons why Berggren should remain with the organzition, but I also understand his reasonings to leave if he so chooses.

On the other hand, Veleno has played alright, but I'm not sure anyone would say he's exceeding expectations? Meeting them, maybe. I think there's plenty more to Veleno's game, but it's just not coming out with the Detroit Red Wings.

I here the Yzerman fogivers, maybe each of these prospects is to blame. The players decide if they reach their highest ceilings possible, yada yada.

There are plenty of other prospect examples I could provide, but it's almost 1 a.m. and I'm exhausted, so I will stop the examples here.

At the end of the day, development is a 2-way street. It's not one sided in any shape or form, and if that's how management feels about it, then they're part of the problem (not the solution).

Say we pick another player with a high ceiling and low floor, what would happen? Why would it be any different for them than it is for these 3 prospects?

If it's not a development issue, then maybe it has something to do with their scouting. It could be that they are more in tuned with the blue collar-type players. They understand their needs, roles, and NHL projectability better than others.

Someone like Kasper or Brandsegg-Nygård have the blue collar work ethic, high floors with decently high ceilings (especially when their floor is considered). Maybe the Detroit Red Wings just want good prospects who have a realistic projection to the NHL. It seems to be where they are most comfortable with at this time.

In some ways, I even feel like I'm devaluing both Kasper and Brandsegg-Nygård. They're not just grinders or bottom-6 forwards. They have talent, people just tend to see their physcial play and think that's their biggest attributes.

I liken it to Moritz Seider. Until someone watches his shifts routinely, they think he's treading water and just a physical player. However, the more a fan watches, the more nuances they'll find and reasons to love his game. Kasper and Brandsegg-Nygård will bring that same element.

Brandsegg-Nygård is, of course, a unique player who will bring his own flare to the Detroit Red Wings (someday sooner than later). I can't wait to see him in the Winged Wheel.

Ken Daniels, television voice of the Detroit Red Wings, illustrated why we should love Brandsegg-Nygård:

Bringing us the content we need, Helene St. James asked Brandsegg-Nygård the correct pronunciation of his name:

We’re sending our thoughts and prayers to Mickey Redmond. He’s going to need a few ginger ales to get through those calls. 

(Thank goodness I didn’t spell half of his last name Nysgård throughout this article, otherwise I’d need Redmond to pass a ginger ale.)

june 29. Detroit Red Wings battle royale: Marco Kasper vs. Nate Danielson. dark. Next