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Abel to Yzerman

The Wings Could Have Had

from Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press,

Vegas advanced with a Game 7 victory over the Vancouver Canucks, a series that prompted reader Alex M.’s question to be the subject of this Detroit Red Wings mailbag: “What’s the bigger miss — Wings drafting Svechnikov instead of Boeser or Zadina instead of Hughes?”

The Wings selected forward Evgeny Svechnikov at 19th in the 2015 draft, four spots before the Canucks chose forward Brock Boeser at 23rd. Two years ago, the Wings drafted forward Fiiip Zadina at sixth, and the Canucks pounced on defenseman Quinn Hughes at seventh. The Wings’ picks were made by former general manager Ken Holland and Tyler Wright, who was the chief of amateur scouting. General manager Steve Yzerman holds the fourth pick in the 2020 draft, which is scheduled for Oct. 9-10.

Boeser and Hughes have established themselves as significant players for the Canucks.

Boeser, 23, has 75 goals among 161 points in 197 career games. He scored 29 goals as a rookie in 2017-28, 26 the following season, and was on pace to top 20 again when the season was paused March 12. Svechnikov, on the other hand, has appeared in just 20 NHL games (two goals, two assists) and has yet to show where he fits into the rebuild, if at all.

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I thought that the exit of the Canucks would’ve established a moratorium on the delhughesion. No such luck. Those of us not attached to revisionist history will recall that Hughes was not the consensus #2 defenseman of the draft after Dahlin; there were several D in the mix (Bouchard, Dobson, Hughes, Boqvist). Picking up Zadina at 6 was an unexpected surprise. It may not have been the best example of drafting for positional need but, again, Hughes was not the consensus choice for best D available. He certainly looks like that now, but that suggests more of an inspired pick by the Canucks rather than a DRW mistake.

Also in the revisionist history department, it’s not necessarily a mistake just because it happened under Holland.

Posted by Unhealthy Scratch on 09/08/20 at 03:35 PM ET

d ca's avatar

Quinn Hughes is one of the most damning example of the incompetence of Ken Holland over the last few years in Detroit.

Holland lived within bike riding distance to the arena where Hughes played.

Let that sink in.

Holland’s son had that same arena as his high school home arena. There are windows on the side of the arena seating where you can pop in and not disturb practice and still observe 1/2 the ice. And a restaurant a few feet away so you can say while I was here for lunch I just wanted to catch a glimpse….not to necessarily watch, but since I was here I just wanted to watch for a few minutes.

The fact that they didn’t have in-depth knowledge of Hughes is just unacceptable. Even in Saginaw, Yzerman still has in-depth knowledge of Cole Perfetti.

Zadina fell and they jumped. Fine. Rating Bouchard ahead of Hughes that’s where I see the failure of the Red Wings scouting. And I back it up with the years of draft picks from 2005-2012.

Posted by d ca on 09/08/20 at 03:51 PM ET

SYF's avatar

Suggesting that the real brains behind the talent scouting was Jim Nill and Joe McDonnell?

Posted by SYF from impossible and oddly communally possessive sluts on 09/08/20 at 05:41 PM ET


The fact that Hughes was not the “consensus 2nd best defenseman” has no relevance on anything.  A lot of people (on this board and many others) had their fingers crossed that Hughes would be the Wings pick because they felt he was the player who would help the Wings the most,  The fact that up to this point those people have been proven right is nothing more than confirmation of what a crapshoot the NHL draft is.  The fact that some people said they preferred Hughes before the draft, and that their preference has shown to be prescient is in no way “revisionist history”. 

I can’t help but laugh at the fact that some people are angry that other people are talking about hockey on a hockey page.  Oh, the humanity.  Talk about getting sand in your mangina. If people talking about what might have been is so offensive, just ignore the thread lke someone with a nickels worth of sense. Throwing a temper tantrum about it isn’t going to stop other people from having conversations about who people wish the Wings had drafted, hired, traded for, etc.  it’s not like we have any Wings games to watch.

Posted by MikeO on 09/08/20 at 05:50 PM ET


Sure a GM is often going to prefer his own guys.

But it still says something to me how quickly Yzerman moved on from

I’m no scout. But I sort of did a double take when they passed over Hughes. Like: really…are you guys sure?

I don’t remember Hughes being considered a potential home run
puck-controlling, game-changing, ultra-smart, ultra-skilled number one D with top-notch vision and sense as something that only developed well after he was picked.
I remember the only concern being that he’s small and would likely never be great at defending against big, physical players down low and in front of his net. Basically exaggerated biases about small, skilled defenseman that lingered from a different era.

Look at how well Vancouver drafted in the last few years of Holland’s tenure up until he left. They weren’t talking an even chance from among a pool of a few defensemen any of whom could have been picked in that spot.

Ray Ferraro speculated that maybe it was a case of Hughes being so close to Detroit that they actually overcorrected - maybe even saw him too much and magnified any flaws.

To me, Detroit fell for the bright, shiny object that was Zadina falling to six.
If they did actually have Bouchard rated higher, because he’s bigger and a right shot, that would be classic Wright and Holland. I’m not saying Bouchard might still not be a very good defenseman. But he’s not cracked the NHL yet in spite of his NHL ready size. Hughes is in the same top cluster with Makar and Heiskenen.

Ive said this before so forgive me, but it was Holland himself who repeatedly said about top-pairing, impact defensemen: they don’t make it to UFA; you can’t trade for those guys; you have to have a high enough pick and get lucky and draft them.

And then the doofus - I’m not saying Holland is a doofus as a person or over his whole career - but in this case he was a doofus - doesn’t think straight and goes for not only a player at the least important position in hockey but a guy who wasn’t even considered a generational talent at that position. I think they didn’t ever seriously consider that Zadina would be available and when he was they lost their marbles.
Who cares if a player you didn’t think would be available drops. You pick the player with the highest end home run potential. And for a team so desperately starved for top talent on D, you surely - all else being equal - prioritize the impact defenseman the GM kept saying is impossible to obtain any other way. He blew it.

When a team with a much better scouting department scoops up the player you passed on one pick later, you probably messed up. I’d love to be a fly on the wall and hear what Yzerman really thinks about that decision. It set this team back quite a bit.

Posted by lefty.30 on 09/08/20 at 06:01 PM ET


And I remember clearly at the time that Bouchard was considered to be dropping
somewhat. Boqvist was considered hit or miss - a finesse talent whom some teams liked and some teams didn’t. And Dobson was thought by some to be kind of a sleeper with raw size and talent but wasn’t a top-ten pick.

All three of those guys were more in the 8-13 range with Bouchard the highest
due to gaudy point totals in the OHL and his size and right shot.

I’m not usually someone who follows draft prospects really closely, but. I remember
being focused on the top few D that year thinking we’d likely draft one.

Posted by lefty.30 on 09/08/20 at 06:10 PM ET

OlderThanChelios's avatar

And then the doofus - I’m not saying Holland is a doofus as a person or over his whole career - but in this case he was a doofus…

Posted by lefty.30 on 09/08/20 at 06:01 PM ET

Forget Hughes vs. Zadina, lefty. At least Zadina has a chance to prove everyone wrong. Holland’s biggest doofus move was a two-parter.

The first part was when he lost Kyle Quincey on waivers in 2008 because he wanted to keep Derek Fricking Meech (a guy who had three assists in 32 games). Then he compounded that asshat move by trading away his 2012 1st rounder in order to get Quincey back.

Kyle played 247 games with the Wings after that trade and ended up with a whopping 14 goals and a staggering 34 assists before he left for New Jersey in 2016. And that 1st rounder that Hapless Holland gave away? Well, we all know Tampa Bay turned that into Andrei Vasilevskiy, arguably one of the top five goaltenders in the league today.

Now, that’s a doofus move.

Posted by OlderThanChelios from Grand Rapids, MI on 09/08/20 at 06:41 PM ET

ilovehomers's avatar

Posted by OlderThanChelios from Grand Rapids, MI on 09/08/20 at 06:41 PM ET

And to this forever will be the caveat…would it have made sense to pick Vasi when Mrazek looked like a legit starter to usurp Howie?

If picking positional need is what teams should do, especially when not in the lottery, then picking Vasi with Mrazek in his back pocket makes no sense.

Posted by ilovehomers on 09/08/20 at 06:59 PM ET

OlderThanChelios's avatar

picking Vasi with Mrazek in his back pocket makes no sense.

Posted by ilovehomers on 09/08/20 at 06:59 PM ET

In 2012, Mrazek was in the OHL and hadn’t proven a thing. Vasilevskiy was already playing in the KHL and was playing at a high level. If the Wings felt the need for a goalie, Vasilevskiy was there for the taking – if they still had had that 1st round pick.

The bottom line is, Holland wouldn’t have been trading away that 1st rounder if he hadn’t gambled (and lost) that no one would want Quincey just so he could keep Meech in the lineup. That was the real doofus move.

Posted by OlderThanChelios from Grand Rapids, MI on 09/08/20 at 07:54 PM ET

ilovehomers's avatar

Posted by OlderThanChelios from Grand Rapids, MI on 09/08/20 at 07:54 PM ET

Ok, that does make sense. His OHL numbers dont look great. He just had a good run at Juniors, for context.

Holland has indeed been pretty, nay, very bad at drafting/developing goalies. Mrazek and Howie is about all he has done to that end.

And agree on the Quincey thing.

Posted by ilovehomers on 09/08/20 at 08:11 PM ET


The fact that Hughes was not the “consensus 2nd best defenseman” has no relevance on anything.

I think it does, as the most common form of this posit is that Holland was a complete idiot for not picking Hughes, because EVERYBODY knew that he was going to be great. It was so obvious. It’s been said, a LOT. Congrats to those ‘prescient’ ones, but I simply don’t believe nor do I recall that the Hughesists were as prevalent as they now claim to be.

I can’t help but laugh at the fact that some people are angry that other people are talking about hockey on a hockey page. 

Who’s angry? Temper tantrum? I’m quite sure that I was ‘talking about hockey on a hockey page’.

Oh, the humanity.

Of a conflicting opinion? I offered mine, in response to the article, and was countered with

sand in your mangina

.More disagreements could be expected with that lexicon.

Posted by Unhealthy Scratch on 09/08/20 at 09:56 PM ET


Yeah the Meech-Quincey Affair is undoubtedly a classic.
(Someone should write a scholarly tome about Holland’s last
ten or so years in Detroit.)

Whomever he’d have drafted with that pick (another caveat has to be
that it would have been Holland picking, not Yzerman) it has to rank in
Jim Rutherford “I hate first round picks” territory. And talk about overvaluing your own players. I appreciate that Quincey bounced back from a disastrous start to his second stint in Detroit and did his best to play a fairly physical #4 D type game.
But yikes. Meddling defensive defenseman actually are pretty widely available without spending 1st round picks.

I get that a couple other teams whiffed on Hughes, too.
Just like other teams did with guys like Petersson and Makar and Heiskenen.
But in a way that makes it more painful: we didn’t have lottery luck and still had a golden chance to draft an impact player - and at our greatest position of need.

There are some picks that just - for fans like me - immediately feel wrong or right.
Passing on Hughes felt too clever by half and like a fallacious folly (it was assumed he’d already be taken so we have to take him). Seider immediately felt to me like a really gutsy win. No one would employ me to make hockey decisions and I obviously have dumb instincts, too. But passing on Hughes seemed really dumb based on Holland’s own standards. If they just didn’t think he was that good or was too risky a pick or something…well, I’m glad those guys are gone. Stevie and his crew will make mistakes, too, but it was clearly past time for different people to be in charge.


Posted by lefty.30 on 09/08/20 at 10:27 PM ET

d ca's avatar

.... And that 1st rounder that Hapless Holland gave away? Well, we all know Tampa Bay turned that into Andrei Vasilevskiy, ....Now, that’s a doofus move.
Posted by OlderThanChelios from Grand Rapids, MI on 09/08/20 at 06:41 PM ET

Could be worse….he could have traded for say Robert Lang and given up Mike Green in those Norris contention years…and trading away 1st round picks when you were already on pace to win the presidents trophy that year. Only to not make it out of the 2nd round.

...but Holland wouldn’t have drafted Green just like he wouldn’t have drafted Vasilevskiy.

...the real issue is his trading away draft picks for players and that Lang trade was the start of the giving up 1st round picks for players that Holland continued to the example you stated.

Seider immediately felt to me like a really gutsy win.
Posted by lefty.30 on 09/08/20 at 10:27 PM ET

....as far as Seider, I can still say I’d rather have Dylan Cozens and Trevor Zegras. They are the leftovers from the players I really wanted on the Wings: Alex Turcotte or Bowen Byram. If it was going to be an off-the-wall pick I was hoping for Vasili Podkolzin or trading down for a Spencer Knight. I think Holland leaving the organization before the draft screwed the Wings as they knew they couldn’t move back a few picks since Holland would have 2 organizations assessments on Seider if he was their target. But the development phase has reportedly gone well for Seider and he looks like a top pairing defensive d-man.

Let’s just hope they don’t pass up this year’s top d-man on account they are organizationally stacked with right-handers. One of these guys can learn to play off-handed and our defense would be set for the next decade (Hronek, Seider, McIsaac, Drysdale, Cholowsk, Lindström, and Albert Johansson/ Antti Tuomisto /Kasper Kotkansalo / Gustav Berglund.

and then draft yet another LW’er (Perfetti) when they already have: Zadina, Berggren, Mastrosimone, Grewe, Kivenmaki, Soderblom, and Tyutyayev all left-handed C/LW’s.

Posted by d ca on 09/08/20 at 11:42 PM ET


my problem with KH is this:
Since the cup in 2008 the wings lost Lidstrom, Rafalski, Stuart, and Qunicey (don’t worry he’ll trade a first to get him backI
In that time he only drafted 1 D int the first round, passing on Chychrun, a top 3 D, to move datsyuk’s contract.  He only drafted an addirounal 5 D in the second round, and the sole worthwhile pick has been Hronek ( too early to tell on Lindstrom, Mcisaac).
So you have a swiss cheese defense, and you pass on the highest D on your board for Sveshnikov, Rasmussen, and Zadina. 
total incompetence.

Posted by akwingsfan on 09/09/20 at 01:29 AM ET

Ass Moses's avatar

I was watching that draft live from my home in British Columbia. I was texting back and forth with my die hard Wings buddy in Windsor. I was betting that Holland would pick Hughes. He was hollering for Kenny to pick Hughes. It made so much sense at the time. When the Wings took Zadina it looked like a huge misstep. The Red Wings were desperate for help on the back end, there where a handful of D sitting on the board, Hughes was the local golden boy. What could have been. Then my Canucks walked right up and took Hughes and the rest is…

Posted by Ass Moses on 09/09/20 at 02:31 AM 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