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Abel to Yzerman

Give The Wings An “A”

from Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press,

The highlights from the Detroit Red Wings’ 2021 draft: Having a kid from Detroit tee up the first pick, making the best of the first pick after the top-rated centers were off the board and, finally, adding a potential franchise goaltender to the farm system.

Whether any of the eight prospects the Wings selected over the weekend will have an impact on the rebuild won’t be known for years.  However, in the immediate aftermath of the draft, general manager Steve Yzerman and his hockey operations staff deserve an A for how they used the picks....

At one point, Yzerman had 12 picks in the draft. It’s an obvious advantage, like buying tickets for the lottery. The Wings have an incredible history of finding gems in later rounds: Nicklas Lidstrom (third, 1989), Sergei Fedorov (fourth, 1989), Vladimir Konstantinov (11th, 1989), Pavel Datsyuk (sixth, 1998), Henrik Zetterberg (seventh, 1999) and Tomas Holmstrom (10th, 1994). But this year, it made sense to use four of them as trade chips to add prospects in Cossa and Buium and established players in Nick Leddy and Alex Nedeljkovic.

Ultimately, whether Yzerman made the right choices in this draft will be determined down the road.  However, it looks like he added players who have the promise to help shape the Wings into a competitive team.

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God, St. James is truly an appalling writer.

“It’s an obvious advantage, like buying tickets for the lottery”?

Posted by captaineclectic on 07/26/21 at 09:49 AM ET

ilovehomers's avatar

The Wings have an incredible history of finding gems in later rounds: Nicklas Lidstrom (third, 1989), Sergei Fedorov (fourth, 1989), Vladimir Konstantinov (11th, 1989), Pavel Datsyuk (sixth, 1998), Henrik Zetterberg (seventh, 1999) and Tomas Holmstrom (10th, 1994)

20+ years ago. Give it a rest.

Posted by ilovehomers on 07/26/21 at 10:17 AM ET


To your point, ilovehomers, not only is it a loooong time ago, but it’s fundamentally dishonest to include Soviet players as “late round gems.”  Those weren’t scouting triumphs, they were defection gambles.

Posted by captaineclectic on 07/26/21 at 10:28 AM ET


Have to agree.  I can’t figure how detroit keeps its reputation for “lateround gems” when the last gem played a whole career and is retired or back home for his twilight playing years.

Been 20 years since we’ve had a late round gem.

Posted by ThatGuy on 07/26/21 at 10:31 AM ET

Ajax19's avatar

Amen, ilovehomers.  The landscape of the NHL has changed dramatically over the last 20+ years and whatever advantage the Wings had in Europe/Russian back then doesn’t really exist anymore.  It was a great run that led to multiple cups, but if you go back to 2000 and look at drafts here is a list of players the Wings have picked after the 3rd round that have played meaningful NHL games:

2002: 7th Round - Derek Meech / 9th - Jonathan Ericsson
2005: 5th Round - Darren Helm
2008: 4th Round - Gustav Nyquist
2009: 5th Round - Nick Jensen
2010: 5th Round - Petr Mrazek
2012: 4th Round - Andreas Athanasiou
2014: 4th Round - Christoph Ehn

There are a few solid players like Helm, Nyquist, Athanasiou and Mrazek in that bunch.  It might be a stretch to call them “gems”, but those are all pretty solid picks that late in the draft.  Still, nothing along the lines of a Fedorov, Lidstrom, Holmstrom, etc.  That era is long gone.

Posted by Ajax19 on 07/26/21 at 10:33 AM ET


Time to put Helm out to pasture. Play one of the kids who was drafted in the last 3 years

Posted by exor54 on 07/26/21 at 11:29 AM ET


I love Homers… I often agree with what you say and this is bang on, I was about to post that, but you beat me to it… 20 years ago.. our drafts have been less than spectactular lately…

I have to go back and see some of the posts over the weekend..whats the word on (at least my shock) of Yzerman taking Cossa over Wallstedt? 

Also Evidsson over the potential high skilled wingers?  I’m ok with Our new BIg E but Cossa was a huge surprise to me.

Posted by DieByTheWing on 07/26/21 at 12:36 PM ET

damndog revenge   From the bowels of Detroit's avatar

Interesting take from The Athletic:

Shai Buium felt a little early at the top of the second round. I know several teams had him in that kind of a range, which likely forced the Red Wings’ hand a little bit. But he’s more of a high-floor, low-ceiling guy and there was some serious talent available if they wanted to take more of a cut, which I think should be the approach more often than not. Buium’s game is built upon a reliable three-zone presence defensively, a strong foundation, advanced spatial awareness, and a pro frame. There’s work to be done to round out his touch with the puck and feel for things offensively, though, which could limit how high he plays in a lineup.

After taking Carter Mazur, an overager I wouldn’t have drafted in the third round, I did really like the Red Wings’ selection of Red Savage, my 85th-ranked prospect, in the fourth. I called Miami University head coach Chris Bergeron this week to try to make sense of Savage, a 200-foot player who I think has been a little miscast into a strict shutdown center projection (I actually quite like his skill level when in the dirty areas and his teammates adore him).

Here’s what Bergeron had to say: “I played three years with his dad at Miami, I’ve been friends with his dad for a long time, I watched Red, and Ryan, and Rory grow up and Ryan’s on our team now going into his third year. Where we’re excited is we’re a program in transition and we need kids that aren’t going to settle for anything less than winning. And Red Savage is a winner. It’s that intangible that’s really, really hard to put a value on but it’s so valuable. He’s not one of those guys that’s going to wow you with size, or this or that. If you need a faceoff, you need a penalty kill, you need a blocked shot, or you need a goal, Red Savage is the guy. When you talk to the U.S. program people, this is a kid who made an impact. Did he have the hardest shot or was he the fastest skater? No. But he was the guy that the coaching staff went to right away as a glue person and the guy who drives the bus every day. We’re extremely excited about Red. He’s going to push our program. We’re pumped. There were some first-round players on that team and the name they continually mention is Red Savage.”

But the Red Wings pick of Day 2 that I probably liked the most was the selection of Liam Dower Nilsson (who was my best player available on my board when they took him 134th). Dower Nilsson probably tops out as a contributing third-line type who brings energy and physicality alongside decent skill, but I think there’s more talent there than meets the eye (and more than he showed at U18s).

I like Oscar Plandowski, who I wrote about as one of my final cuts here. I don’t think the Red Wings are likely to get more than one, maybe two depth players if they’re lucky out of this Day 2 group, but I didn’t hate what they did either.

Posted by damndog revenge From the bowels of Detroit on 07/26/21 at 12:46 PM ET

MurrayChadwick's avatar

While I agree with all of you on the “wings” drafting ability, argument to be made is if you also add in Yzerman’s drafting history, this does hold a bit of water. Not that I’m coming to the defense of the author here by any stretch.

Posted by MurrayChadwick from YzerHolland2.0's pixie dust fueled bandwagon on 07/26/21 at 01:29 PM ET

RWBill's avatar

The Wings have an incredible history of finding gems in later rounds

My immediate reaction I see has been stated numerous times already.  All of these were LAST century, which I understand at Helene’s age still seems recently.

Truly horrible analysis by the mouthpiece.

Posted by RWBill on 07/26/21 at 01:38 PM ET


I have to go back and see some of the posts over the weekend..whats the word on (at least my shock) of Yzerman taking Cossa over Wallstedt? 

Also Evidsson over the potential high skilled wingers?  I’m ok with Our new BIg E but Cossa was a huge surprise to me.

From what I have been reading Cossa won them over at the interviews (I think they had two of them with even Osgood being there). My guess is they really liked his demeanor and maybe even some cockiness. From a pure hockey point of view, both Wallsted and Cossa have a very good chance to become an NHL starter and Wallsted might have been a safer bet, but Cossa is the guy with higher potential ceiling due to his enormous size and athleticism. In any case taking Cossa before Wallsted was a surprise for everybody.

Regarding Edvinsson three top Centers were gone before our pick so the choice was between a potential first pair LD or a winger (mostly Eklund). I believe this pick was position based as SY priority is defense first and we have a number of good wingers in the system. From what I have been reading Eklund could be a really special player (in the Patterson mold) and if he becomes one and Edvinsson is just a top 4 D, but nothing special, this would be a mistake. But if both players will be of equal value, LD is more important than a winger. We will find out in 3-4 years I guess.

Posted by VPalmer on 07/26/21 at 01:42 PM ET


Been 20 years since we’ve had a late round gem.

And I believe it’s true for all NHL teams. There are no secrets anymore. With current technology all teams know everything about all players around the world it seems The times when only a few scouts were able to secretly go to see Datsyuk play are over as well as the time of USSR players defections.
Now later rounds are basically a guessing game of who will develop better, who will improve dramatically in the next 2-3 years and who will remain stale. SY seems to have a very good eye for these things, but the days of Zetterbergs in the seventh round are over for all teams.

Posted by VPalmer on 07/26/21 at 01:49 PM ET


Interesting take Palmer.  I hadn’t read that about the interviews.  BUt you’re right, either way, I’m glad they got a goalie.  I’d always rather take a winger, but the Evinsson had questions about his game, while Eklund had basically none (other than size I suppose).... but yes, if Edvinsson does see his upside, definitely more valuable.  Hopefully they know what they are doing. There are so many factors.

As for Yzerman’s track record… I get a bit uncertain about that. How much is him vs his draft team in Tampa.  I mean, he’s the last decision, so ultimately it’s on him, but does he see all these guys?  If he puts guys in place that he trusts their ability, thats where I give him the credit.  Same as I don’t entirely blame Holland for the bad drafts other than for clearly trusting idiots. 

Apparently Hakan was banging the table for that one guy, if he pans out, is that Yzerman or Hakan? 

Anyhow, I"m more excited about these picks these last few years, so that’s good smile

Posted by DieByTheWing on 07/26/21 at 02:43 PM ET


As for the late round picks… honestly, I wonder how much is finding “gems” late round vs finding coachable players that get better.  Because ya, so much information is out there.  But clearly the ones you find later are the ones that keep developping.

Posted by DieByTheWing on 07/26/21 at 02:44 PM ET

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About Abel to Yzerman

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