The Detroit Red Wings will look to have another middle-range pick in the 2014 NHL Draft. This is a result of the fact that Detroit is no longer among the yearly contenders for the President's Trophy.
The Red Wings came into last year's NHL entry draft with their highest selection (18th overall) since they drafted Martin Lapointe at No. 10 in 1991.
The Red Wings didn't keep their highest selection in almost two decades, as they traded down to No. 20, but they still got their man in Anthony Mantha.
But whom should the Red Wings' target in the first round of this year's draft?
Well, based on Detroit's inconsistent play of late, it is a bit hard to predict what pick it will end up with. For now, it would be safe to assume that it will be a mid-to-late-range selection.
Here are five candidates who fit those spots.
In today's NHL, defensemen are bigger, stronger and shoot harder than ever before. But the Red Wings' current blue line, with the exception of the 6'4" 221-pound Jonathan Ericsson, doesn't really have any mammoth players to keep players away from the net.
This has translated into opposing teams getting to the net and getting on top of Red Wings goalies before they can make saves.
Enter Haydn Fleury of the Red Deer Rebels.
It might seem like grasping for straws when examining Fleury, as he is ranked 11th overall in TSN analyst Craig Button's December 9 list of top prospects for the 2014 NHL draft.
But the Red Wings nabbed Anthony Mantha at pick No. 20 last year after Mantha had been ranked as the No. 10 North American skater by NHL's Central Scouting.
If Fleury should fall to wherever the Red Wings happen to be, Detroit needs to select the 6'3" 207-pound defenseman.
Fleury put up 19 points in 66 games last year with the Red Deer but has already eclipsed that point total with 22 points in only 33 games this season.
After watching his highlights above, it is clear that the 17-year-old defenseman knows how to put the puck on net. If he can make the jump to the NHL and add a few pounds, he would be an ideal fit with the Red Wings down the road.
It seems like in almost every NHL draft over the past decade, the Detroit Red Wings manage to find a player who tanked over the course of his draft year but still has the talent to contribute at a high level.
Kasperi Kapanen could be this player for the Red Wings in the 2014 draft.
Kapanen has a great set of hands, and he knows how to score. Combine that with his right-handed shot and Jiri Hudler-like style of play, and the Red Wings could have a solid addition to their top-six forwards group down the road.
Kapanen needs to put on some more weight. At 5'11'' and 172 pounds, he is fleet of foot but would likely not thrive well in a more physical NHL.
Nevertheless, he is the 14th-ranked prospect on Craig Button's December 9 list, falling from eighth, due to low production this season.
The young forward has just eight points in 28 games.
The Red Wings have an abundance of wingers this season. So much that some of them were sent down to Grand Rapids.
But Nick Ritchie is different than the bulk of these wingers. Ritchie is a 6'2" 218-pound left wing that is a force to be reckoned with in the offensive zone, and he has a great wrist shot that he locates very well.
Ritchie has 15 goals and 26 points in 28 games for Peterborough this season.
If he can adjust to the NHL style of play, Ritchie is already big enough to be a dominant power foward in the NHL.
Ritchie fell to 20th overall from 11th in Craig Button's December 9 rankings, but fortunately that opens the door for the Red Wings to pick him up if he stays on the board in the later half of the draft.
When it comes to players that have seen their draft stock plummet, there is no player that has experienced more of that this season in the top 30 on Craig Button's list than Roland McKeown.
There's a lot to like about McKeown, but his numbers haven't been there compared to other defensemen ranked above him. The right-handed shooting defenseman's numbers are still pretty solid (for where the Red Wings could get him in the NHL Draft) with four goals and 20 points in 32 games.
Could be another steal here for the Red Wings if they choose to take a chance on McKeown.
When talking about hockey pedigree in the 2014 NHL Draft, there is no higher ranked prospect with a better pedigree than Ryan MacInnis, son of the great Al MacInnis.
Ryan is in his first year with the Kitchener Rangers and has quietly put up 20 points in 33 games.
The 17-year-old has big shoes to fill if he hopes to live up to his father's illustrious career, but after the Red Wings took Tyler Bertuzzi (Todd Bertuzzi's nephew) in last year's draft, it would seem only fitting that they look towards MacInnis' pedigree before looking elsewhere.
The 6'3", 175-pound center is ranked 23rd on the December 9 rankings by TSN's Craig Button but has climbed in those rankings from a previous spot of No. 28.
Should he fall to the Red Wings, there is little doubt that he could be a fit with the organization but will need to add some strength and pounds to live up to his potential in the NHL.