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Abel to Yzerman

Should The Wings Draft A Goaltender With The #4 Pick In The Draft?

Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press answers a question about goaltender Yaroslav Askarov being picked by Detroit in the first round...

Goaltenders rarely go that early. When the Florida Panthers chose Spencer Knight at No. 13 in 2019, that was the highest one had been picked in nearly a decade (the Dallas Stars took Jack Campbell at 11th in 2010). No goaltender has been picked in the top 10 since the Montreal Canadiens took Carey Price at No. 5 in 2005.

While Askarov is tempting, there are too many high-end skaters available to Yzerman to pass up. The Wings lost out on expected top pick Alexis Lafrenière when they were bumped back to fourth, and forwards Tim Stützle and Quinton Byfield likely will be the next players chosen.

But that leaves Jamie Drysdale, Cole Perfetti, Marco Rossi, Lucas Raymond and Alexander Holtz as possibilities, all of whom are intriguing.


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Is Drysdale really projected to be a #1 defenseman?

I’m not sure I’ve seen that description anywhere else.

I guess it could be a matter of semantics. Of course it’s doesn’t
have to mean: like Nick Lindstrom. But actual #1, even meaning
the best on a team’s roster is saying a lot. #1 D as in a subjective
tier of truly all-around, all-situations, at very least defensively capable
and very offensively impactful defenseman, of which - who knows - there
might be 15-20-25 in the entire league might be suggesting too much.

If Drysdale really has an upside of being one of those 15-20-25 guys
and is considered to have a very reasonable chance of getting there,
I think you have to take him at #4

Unless you’re talking about a likely superstar winger,
you’d probably need to draft a potential #1 center - and someone with
a real probability of playing center in the NHL - to justify passing on a guy who could be a #1 D. These are all kind of slippery, subjective terms I guess.
Which is why I go back to wondering if HSJ is just asserting this projection,
or if respected scouts/analysts have made it, too.

We need to get a top goalie prospect out of this draft.
I’m agnostic as to where that’s possible.

Posted by lefty.30 on 07/08/20 at 03:28 PM ET

The Meal's avatar

I’ve seen the assessment that Drysdale would’ve been picked #2 in 2019’s draft.

Posted by The Meal from Firestone, CO on 07/08/20 at 04:06 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

Askarov scares me for one reason: his rights are owned by SKA St. Petersburg, the wealthiest and most powerful team in the KHL. If Askarov takes off professionally this season, SKA is going to want to keep him around, and they’ll put a ton of financial heft behind their attempts to keep him.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 07/08/20 at 04:39 PM ET


@The Meal:

Thanks - do you remember where you saw that?

That’s an interesting point, George.
It seems like most top Russian prospects want to play
in the NHL (although in some cities more than others)
so long as they have a clear path to being on the NHL roster
and an opportunity to really play. Maybe the lure of the NHL is partly money,
maybe it’s being on the biggest stage against the very best. Maybe it’s even
a quality of life issue and of having the best facilities and so on.
But for the guys who really truly just feel more comfortable at home,
maybe closer to extended family, within a language and culture that’s
theirs, it seems like an uphill battle at best. And it’s hard to blame those guys.
Some NA players love the adventure of the KHL and some don’t last a month.

Stevie seems to have no qualms about drafting Russian players.
But no doubt they do their due diligence to know what the specific player
is motivated by and what his team and contractual outlook is likely to be
and how long that could interfere with bringing him over.

Posted by lefty.30 on 07/08/20 at 05:44 PM ET

Shanny_Fan's avatar

Picking a goalie at #4 would be a very 2020 thing to do

Posted by Shanny_Fan on 07/08/20 at 05:56 PM ET

The Meal's avatar

I believe I saw the comment about Drysdale being a 2019 #2 pick somewhere in The Athletic coverage.

Posted by The Meal from Firestone, CO on 07/08/20 at 07:00 PM ET


I’ve seen multiple articles saying Drysdale is projected to be a #1 dman or at least first pairing D,

Posted by VPalmer on 07/08/20 at 09:42 PM ET

calquake's avatar

I can’t disagee with Drysdale at #4. While, at the same time, acknowledging that the Wings need to draft a goaltender. They have, I believe, 3 second round picks. If the scouting is accurate regarding Drysdale and Askarov, the Wings could possibly draft a #1 defense pairing and a future starting goaltender. I say go for it and offer someone in the first round two round 2 picks.

Posted by calquake from a.k.a. Uniquake, workin' on my manifesto on 07/08/20 at 11:44 PM ET

Paul's avatar

Max Bultman of The Athletic today,

The case to pick him
Unsurprisingly, considering those strong marks from Pronman, the case for Drysdale comes down to his feet and his brain. In the modern game, those are two highly desirable traits in a defenseman.

And while the Red Wings already invested high draft picks in Moritz Seider and Antti Tuomisto last summer, Drysdale’s profile would project him as the kind of top-end skater Detroit does not currently have on its blue line.

His offensive outputs, while certainly good, are not so overwhelming as to project him as a clear offensive dynamo at the next level (more on that shortly). The positive reviews for his defensive capability mitigates that, though, and allows him to project as a more well-rounded defenseman.

When asked where Drysdale’s game grew the most this season, Hartsburg pointed to a growing ability to take over games on both ends of the ice, which speaks to the true two-way ability.

“Not just when he had the puck on his stick, but I thought when he was defending,” Hartsburg said. “I thought he was able to really kill plays and transition for us. And certainly when he’s on the ice, we tend to have the puck more, and we tend to generate more opportunities. And I think that really, for me, was a big telltale sign of the steps he took.”

more ($$$)

Posted by Paul from Motown Area on 07/09/20 at 08:37 AM ET

Primis's avatar

I say go for it and offer someone in the first round two round 2 picks.

Posted by calquake from a.k.a. Uniquake, workin’ on my manifesto on 07/08/20 at 11:44 PM ET

That won’t usually get it done.  The cost to move up is usually a 1st and a 2nd.  The move up to get a second 1st, DET woud have to offer two 2nd’s plus something else.

As for Askarov…. the biggest problem comes from the question “If DET doesn’t draft him, then where is the future goalie coming from?”.  Because it sure doesn’t look like anyone in DET’s system is it.

DET could do a lot worse than Drysdale at #4, if he’s there still.  Still not convinced he’ll be.  And that’s the rub, I’m not sure that any of the forwards at that point will be worth it.

Posted by Primis on 07/09/20 at 09:42 AM ET


Thanks for the excerpt, Paul.

If we can trade down to get Askarov
assuming the organization sees a couple other
D and ideally a center with high upside who might
still be available in the second round, I’d be ok with that.
A lot would have to go right though.

I like what I’m reading about Drysdale and it helps that
we drafted two promising defensemen with some size
and physicality last year. He could be part of a really good
young group going forward - maybe no superstars but
really high quality young, cost-controlled depth on D.

Posted by lefty.30 on 07/09/20 at 09:58 AM ET

RWBill's avatar

They really need skaters in front and back.  Goalies clearly can make a difference, but nearly all of them are up and down over their careers.  Price was a great high pick for Montreal, for a while.  Most goalies are grouped within a 1.5 goal per 100 shots bracket. Talented, responsible and well positioned defensemen, and forwards that can possess the puck can more than make up that same slim difference over the course of an 82 game season.  Which goalie is going to get hot and carry his team into the Stanley Cup Finals in any year?  No one can predict that now.  If a team is talented and playing as a cohesive unit sometimes all a goalie has to be is adequate.

Posted by RWBill on 07/09/20 at 11:02 AM ET


Look at the history of drafting goalies in the first round and you quickly discover that if they aren’t “can’t miss prospects” they rarely pan out. Just as many, if not more quality goalies come from later picks in the draft. For this reason I think Askarov is way too big a risk to draft at #4.

I wouldn’t mind them trading up to draft him in the later part of the first round if he slides though. But the price may be too high if it is more than 2 2nd round picks.

With cap issues facing other teams, Detroit could easily find a goalie in another organization. They could pay more than someone else on the open market or work a trade with someone who can’t keep all their goalies. Expansion draft is coming and teams can only protect 1 goalie.

I’ve got to go with best player available at #4. This team needs plenty of help and whoever they pick is probably a couple years away from making a significant impact.

Posted by evileye on 07/09/20 at 01:04 PM ET

MurrayChadwick's avatar

Man oh Man, a goalie in the top 5 in any year is a real challenging pick. Its win or lose at that position, not like you can say well he didn’t turn out to be a #1 D or #C but he was still an effective guy on our 2nd pair or 3rd line and helps on the PK for 5-6 years.  And in his case, I don’t see him coming over to ride a bus in GR or ride pine as a backup, so it truly is, home run or strikeout.

Considering this team is 3-6 years from being a threat in the playoffs, I think Yzerman can find a goalie in someone else’s system that can be pried loose for a pair of picks not in the 1st round, and we have picks, and will likely acquire more.

Posted by MurrayChadwick from YzerGod's pixie dust fueled bandwagon on 07/09/20 at 01:18 PM ET

TreKronor's avatar

I’d rather trade a 1st round pick later on down the road for an RFA goalie who has proven himself and has potential.  Using a #4 pick on a goalie (or even a first round pick at all) is hella risky and likely wasteful.  In 5 years trade a 1st rnd pick and a prospect or another pick to get a goalie from another team.

Picking a goalie at #4 would be a very 2020 thing to do

Posted by Shanny_Fan on 07/08/20 at 05:56 PM ET

Also make me think of a very Ottawa/Buffalo thing to do.

Posted by TreKronor on 07/09/20 at 01:44 PM ET

bigfrog's avatar

If Drysdale really has an upside of being one of those 15-20-25 guys
and is considered to have a very reasonable chance of getting there,
I think you have to take him at #4

Yes. wink

Posted by bigfrog on 07/09/20 at 08:34 PM ET


Hard pass.

Posted by MZ2215 on 07/10/20 at 06:49 AM ET


To me, it comes down to this:

Do they believe Perfetti or Rossi or any of the other C’s are potential true #1 C’s.  Not Larkin level, but like top tier teams level #1 C. 

The other question is yes, how high do they view Drysdale. 

Then you get the answer.  Because they need a top C.  But they also need a dynamic top end D that is not a liability defensively.

If they don’t view those C’s as high end enough potential, then you take Drysdale.  If they view them as having higher end potential than Larkin…. or Veleno… that’s a tough quesiton. 

Posted by DieByTheWing on 07/10/20 at 11:23 AM ET


This is the positional player evaluation debate that is so often
up in the air: other than seemingly a small number of
prospects with true superstar or “generational” potential
at center, you never know if a guy is actually going to play
that position in the NHL.

Second line center is a huge need right now.
And this team definitely needs another center at
least as good as Larkin if it’s going to begin to contend.

So I have a similar question to DieByTheWing:

Are the players listed true number one centers (or at least top #2 centers
on a winning team)?  And are they even centers for sure at the NHL level?

We’ve seen that debate about Larkin and Rasmussen and so many other players
around the league. Sure, guys can be versatile and play wing, too. Or sort of
shift around the ice situationally like Z and Dats did. But we really need a true top center. We also need another impactful top-six winger, but that’s clearly a lower priority than center, top pairing D, and starting goaltender.

Posted by lefty.30 on 07/10/20 at 07:19 PM ET

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Welcome to Abel to Yzerman, a Red Wing blog since 1977.  No other site on the internet has better-researched, fact-laden and better prepared discussions than A2Y.  Re-phrase: we do little research, find facts and stats highly overrated and claim little to no preparation.  There are 19 readers of A2Y. No more, no less. All of them, except maybe one, are juvenile in nature.  Reminding them of that in the comment section will only encourage them to prove that. Your suggestions and critiques are welcome: wphoulihan@gmail.com