TORONTO -- One reason the Detroit Red Wings have been a perennial contender is the organization's knack for finding premier players in the NHL Draft.
It's one thing to find a future all-star in the first round, but to pinpoint one in the later rounds takes a tremendous amount of foresight and vision. Hakan Andersson, who began scouting for the Red Wings in 1990 on a recommendation and is now the director of European scouting for the club, saw that potential in Tomas Holmstrom (No. 257 in 1994), Pavel Datsyuk (No. 171 in '98), Henrik Zetterberg (No. 210 in '99), Niklas Kronwall (No. 29 in 2000), Jiri Hudler (No. 58 in '02), Valtteri Filppula (No. 95 in '02), Jonathan Ericsson (No. 291 in '02) and Johan Franzen (No. 97 in '04).
More recently, right wing Gustav Nyquist (No. 121 in '08) has burst upon the scene.
Joe McDonnell, Detroit's director of amateur scouting with the Red Wings, is armed with a pick in each of the seven rounds for the 2013 NHL Draft in Newark, N.J., on June 30. It's a situation he's extremely pleased about.
"I think it's real deep draft," McDonnell told NHL.com. "We just finished up our year-end meetings [on May 26] and know we're going to get a player if we're picking in the 18th spot or lower. We think we're going to get a real good player no matter where we're picking in the first round."
One would think stocking up on defense might be the way to go for the Red Wings. But there's always room for another goal-scorer, even if young players Nyquist, Damien Brunner, Calle Jarnkrok and Tomas Tatar are making their case to assume that role in the near future.
McDonnell said he believes forwards are the strength of this year's draft.
"You have your few high-end defensemen Seth Jones, Darnell Nurse and Nikita Zadorov, but overall I think it's a forward group," McDonnell said. "It's almost a what-are-you-looking-for type of draft. What do you need, and just pick one. I especially think that's the case for a team in the top 10. The players available are all so close and tight … even when you get past the top three, the list goes on and on."
McDonnell was quick to point out that though Jones of the Portland Winterhawks and Halifax Mooseheads teammates Nathan MacKinnon and Jonathan Drouin are exceptional talents, they aren't heads and shoulders ahead of other players in this year's class.
"I wouldn't say the top three are miles ahead of everyone else," McDonnell said. "It's a tight group from No. 3 to No. 15 … it could be anybody. It's a good year if you have a certain need; there's probably someone there for you."
McDonnell and his staff are using the NHL Scouting Combine to evaluate and speak to plenty of potential targets this week.
"The Combine is, more or less, an opportunity to just to size the kids up and meet them at the door … that's my favorite part," he said. "I want to know how nervous they are. Most of them now are so well-schooled by their agents or parents, they've done a good job coaching them. So you want to see if you can get them talking; can they put a sentence together? It's a chance to size up the kid more than anything else."