The Detroit Red Wings missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time in 27 years, and they have the ninth pick in the first round of the 2017 NHL Draft presented by adidas, the first time they have a top-10 pick since they selected Martin Lapointe No. 10 in 1991.
But the Red Wings have no intention of straying from their development model when it comes to their approach to the draft.
"Unless you're picking a superstar that can transition right to the NHL that can help teams can win games … you're not going to be able to rush things," assistant general manager Ryan Martin said. "Just because you didn't have a very good year doesn't mean you can accelerate the development. That's important. I don't know that we're going to stray from our development philosophy. Are we optimistic that perhaps we'll have the opportunity to pick a higher-caliber player than normal because we're picking at nine? Sure, but that doesn't necessarily mean that'll happen."
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The Red Wings interviewed 75 players at the NHL Scouting Combine, far more than usual. That's because they have the ninth pick in the first round and 11 in all, tied with the New Jersey Devils and Philadelphia Flyers for the most in the League, but also because of the depth of talent available in this year's draft.
"For the most part, when you're picking in the latter half of the first round you can rule out a big chunk of players," Martin said. "… But picking at nine everyone's in the mix.
"I do think there's a lot of good players. I heard [Philadelphia Flyers GM] Ron Hextall quoted that he thinks it's a deeper draft than people are giving it credit for from the standpoint of a lot of teams have different needs, and you start to look at mock drafts or where certain pundits think that people are going to be picking particular players, and that speaks to team needs but also the versatility and the skill these players have. You get outside the top couple of names that seem to be the de facto 1-2-3, those names that keep popping up, there's a lot of good names there. It just depends what you're looking for."
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It's likely the Red Wings are looking for a center with their first pick. Among the options that could be available are Portland's Cody Glass, Michael Rasmussen of Tri-City, Nick Suzuki of Owen Sound and Elias Pettersson of Timra in Sweden's second division.
Martin wouldn't divulge the Red Wings' plans but did admit that this year's draft is stocked with talented forwards.
"I think it's a forward … leaning heavy toward the forward class," he said.
Martin also said the Red Wings have the ammunition if they want to be active as far as trading for another first-round selection or moving down and accumulating more picks. In addition to their first-round selection, they have one pick in the second round and four in the third.
"It has been discussed [and] it'll continue to be discussed," Martin said. "That'll be a draft day type of scenario. Certainly there's certain guys that we really like more than others. … We'll make that decision on the fly. Somebody's [fifth-ranked prospect] could be 15 [for another team] and vice versa. To me that doesn't speak to the lack of depth of the draft, that speaks to the versatility of the players. There's a lot of good players available."