Friday night’s first round of the National Hockey League’s Entry Draft offered few surprises.
Elite talent like Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Gabriel Landeskog, and Adam Larsson were quickly selected, while other elite prospects like center Jonathan Miller endured a brief fall.
I watched with great anticipation as elite prospects Conner Murphy, and Tyler Biggs looked as if they would be available at Detroit’s 24th overall selection.
I think it was due to those two defensemen being selected that Detroit elected to trade its first round pick to the Ottawa Senators for their 35th and 48th overall selections in the second round.
It was a move that would ultimately give the Red Wings three second-round selections, and a prime opportunity to stock up on young talent.
"We just wanted to get more picks," assistant general manager Jim Nill said. "We think there'll be some more players that fall down to us.”
“It's like playing the lottery. The more times you buy a ticket, the more chances you have. We think we can get two players out of what we have left, instead of just one."
I believe that Ken Holland, Jim Nill and the rest of the Detroit Red Wings organization thought that there was a possibility that Vladislav Namestnikov would be available to them with the 35th overall selection in today’s second round.
Unfortunately Namestnikov was drafted by Steve Yzerman and the Tampa Bay Lightning with their 27th overall selection in the first round.
Namestnikov was a player that I had projected to Detroit at 24. He is a prolific talent that I believe showcased the same raw ability that Pavel Datsyuk showcased prior to Detroit selecting him 171st overall in ’98.
Going into the draft it was widely projected that with defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom only signing a one year contract extension that Detroit would pursue an elite defensive prospect early in the draft.
I projected in my Detroit mock draft that if an elite defenseman wasn’t available that Detroit would select the best talent available.
Prior to the draft Nill said that the Wings would "lean towards defensemen. The defense position is just so important, you can never have enough of them."
Today with the 35th overall selection of the NHL Entry Draft the Detroit Red Wings selected the best player available, forward Tomas Jurco.
Though not the defenseman the team was looking for, I still believe him to be one of the biggest steals in the draft.
I had Jurco projected to Detroit; I thought that he was the dark horse of the draft. Many analysts thought that he could have been selected much higher.
In my mock I said that Jurco’s game is predicated on great hockey sense and exceptional decision making skills. Tomas is blessed with great size and blazing end-to-end speed, something widely coveted at the NHL level.
It wasn’t until the middle of the second round that Detroit finally addressed their need for a defenseman.
With the 48th overall selection the Detroit Red Wings drafted from the Montreal Juniors defensive prospect Xavier Ouelett.
Ouelett is of the Lidstrom mold. He was one of the most offensively talented blue liners in the draft. He can play both sides of the ice, and displays a quarterback demeanor on the power play.
Ouelett will be a great talent for the Red Wings, but his time isn’t now. He must get stronger and improve his skating to be successful at the next level.
Detroit finished out the second round with an additional defenseman selection by the name of Ryan Sproul, and finished out the third round by selecting North American Marek Tvrdon.
Overall I am extremely pleased with the way the draft has played out thus far for the Red Wings. Though I wish that the Wings could have walked away with Brandon Saad in the second round, it was impossible for the team to pass on the talents of Tomas Jurco.