Breaking Down Detroit Red Wings' Biggest Needs in 2014 Draft
Whether the team keeps that pick is up for debate, but what isn't up for debate are the needs that the Red Wings must to attempt to fill through this draft.
Here are the Detroit Red Wings' biggest needs at the 2014 NHL Draft.
"Biggest needs" in this case, defines needs that the team currently has that have become a prevalent reason as to why the team has not gone farther in the playoffs over the past five seasons. These needs can also be a reason why the team will succeed in the future if they are filled.
Another Prodigy Goaltender
Petr Mrazek hasn't just been ho-humming along in the AHL and limited action that he has seen in the NHL. On the contrary, he's played out of his mind. Mrazek helped the Grand Rapids Griffins win the Calder Cup last year, and he followed up that performance with a 2-4 record, a 92.7 save percentage and a 1.74 GAA.
Now excuse the wins for a minute—because the Red Wings had trouble scoring goals with any consistency this season—but those other numbers are pretty darn good.
So good are those numbers, that Ken Holland has a decision to make whether to leave Mrazek as the full-time starter in the AHL or bring him up to back up Jimmy Howard as Detroit's No. 2 goalie.
We believe we have a 60-game No. 1 goalie. Is Petr Mrazek, as a 22-year-old, better off playing 15-18 games in the NHL or is he better off playing 65 games in the AHL for one more year? That’s the internal conversation we’ve got to have.
Holland certainly has a decision to make, but the bottom line is that the Wings need to re-stock the cupboards as far as minor league goaltending is concerned, if indeed Mrazek goes to the NHL next season.
A Bigger Top-Six Forward
The knock on the Detroit Red Wings over the past decade or so is the team's collective size. Sure, there are the outliers like Johan Franzen, Todd Bertuzzi or Justin Abdelkader, but for the most part, the team is pretty small.
Now, don't be mistaken, it is still difficult as anything to knock a healthy Henrik Zetterberg or Pavel Datsyuk off of the puck, but the Red Wings need some size in their top-six forwards group sooner rather than later.
Which player would fill the role best from the 2014 NHL Draft?
Enter a player of Nicholas Ritchie's stature.
The 6'2" 226-pound power forward of the Peterborough Petes is the No. 7 player on NHL.com's North American skater rankings. While the Red Wings would have to move up substantially from their current No. 15 selection, taking Ritchie would greatly benefit the size component of the Red Wings top-six forwards group.
Ritchie knows how to get to the net, and his big frame allows him to dominate lesser opponents closer to the opposition's net. He had the five-goal night, as can be seen above, but his real impressiveness is his consistency in getting to the net and keeping the puck on his stick as he does so.
The real thing to like about Ritchie, though, is his ability and determination to get second-chance opportunities.
The Red Wings would do well to move up and take the behemoth left wing.
A Right-Handed Top-Six Forward
Simply put, the Red Wings don't have enough right-handed shooters in their top-six forwards group, and it showed last year on their power play. Daniel Alfredsson was the only catalyst with the one-time capability as a right-hander, and he was hard-pressed to shoot it usually, as teams would key on the shot from the point.
The Red Wings need a player that can help them sooner rather than later and Jake Virtanen is that player.
Virtanen has an explosive wrist shot that he can get off extremely quickly, and he also knows how to get his stick free so that he can let said shot go.
The Wings could have used a right-handed shot in the past as far as opening up more opportunities in the offensive zone over the past few seasons, and Virtanen can be an answer down the road if the Red Wings are willing to trade up to get him.
He is currently ranked as the No. 6 forward among North American skaters, but because of his right-handedness, he could be selected off the board with a top-five selection. The Red Wings would likely need to trade up to have a chance at the talented Calgary Hitmen alumnus.
The Bottom Line
Ken Holland has a number of questions facing him at the NHL Draft.
Will he make any trades? Does he trade down like he has so often in the past? Is there a player there that fits what Detroit needs worth selecting? The only things that are for sure are that Detroit needs to get bigger in terms of size and they also need more right-handed shots in their lineup.
The "next" one in goal would be nice, but Mrazek doesn't have to be replaced right away because that could just create a logjam of sorts in the goaltending area.
Detroit must look to get bigger or find more right-handed shooting, potential top-six forwards.
If they can find both a right-handed shooter and a big player in the same person, all the better.