DETROIT -- The 2021 NHL Entry Draft is just four days away, and coming off one of the most unique scouting years in League history, anticipation continues to build toward what strategies general managers will employ in building their teams' rosters for the short - and long-term future. Leading up to Friday's first round of the Draft, DetroitRedWings.com will profile some of the top prospects by position group. Monday's installment features eligible defensemen.
The Detroit Red Wings head into the NHL Draft with two scheduled first-round picks, at No. 6 and No. 23 overall. Detroit has selected a defenseman with its first-round selection just five times since 2000, but one of those picks was German blueliner Moritz Seider in 2019, who has risen to one of the top drafted prospects in the NHL, and will have every chance to make the Wings' Opening Night roster in October.
In fact, Executive Vice President and General Manager Steve Yzerman has selected a combined six defensemen in the first three rounds of his first two drafts at the helm. Continuing to stockpile the Red Wings' system with versatile, puck-moving defensemen could be among the club's tactics come Friday night and into Saturday's rounds 2-7.
Video: NHL Draft Prospect Profiles Hughes, Clarke, Edvinsson
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The top-ranked North American skater according to NHL.com, and the presumptive No. 1 pick in the 2021 Draft, is defenseman Owen Power out of the University of Michigan. The 6-foot-6 Mississauga, Ontario native figures to be off the board when the Red Wings are on the clock with the sixth pick.
Another Michigander, Luke Hughes, is a standout defenseman for the U.S. National Team Development Program, and is signed with the Wolverines for the upcoming 2021-22 season. Hughes is the fourth-ranked North American skater according to NHL.com, and the second-ranked defenseman. Hughes will look to join his brothers, Quinn and Jack Hughes, who were selected with the seventh and first picks in the 2018 and 2019 NHL Drafts, respectively.
Video: 2021 Draft Prospect Profiles: Power, Johnson, Beniers
Nepean, Ontario native Brandt Clarke is the seventh-ranked North American skater and rounds out the defenseman rated among the top 10. Clarke recently earned a gold medal with Team Canada at the 2021 Under-18 World Championship, where he averaged a point per game and was named to the tournament's All-Star Team.
Headlining the top-ranked European skaters on defense is Simon Edvinsson, the second-rated overall prospect in the European class. Edvinsson is 6-foot-4, and spent time during the 2020-21 season with Frolunda's junior team. He also helped Sweden earn the bronze medal at the 2021 U-18 World Championship.
Russian defenseman Daniil Chayka is ranked No. 5 among European skaters according to the NHL's Central Scouting system. He last played for CSKA Moscow of the Kontinental Hockey League. Chayka was a member of the Russian 2020 World Junior Championship team, and also helped lead the Guelph Storm to the 2019 Ontario Hockey League championship.
The Red Wings currently have a young, talented core on defense, led by 2016 second-round pick Filip Hronek, who led the club in points during the 2020-21 season. Gustav Lindstrom has gained valuable experience at the NHL level in each of the past two seasons, and while he is yet to make his Red Wings debut, Seider continues to project as a long-term foundational piece along Detroit's blue line. Seider was named the Swedish Hockey League's Best Defenseman after a standout season for Rogle BK Angelholm, and earned the same honor from the IIHF directorate after his performance at the 2021 World Championship. Yzerman also traded for veteran defenseman Nick Leddy ahead of the NHL Expansion Draft deadline last Friday.
NHL Central Scouting Top North American Skaters (Defensemen)
No. 1: Owen Power: 6-foot-6/213 pounds; shoots left
No. 4: Luke Hughes: 6-foot-2/184 pounds; shoots left
No. 7: Brandt Clarke: 6-foot-2/185 pounds; shoots right
No. 11: Carson Lambos: 6-foot-1/197 pounds; shoots left
No. 14: Corson Ceulemans: 6-foot-2/198 pounds; shoots right
No. 20: Shai Buium: 6-foot-3/209 pounds; shoots left
NHL Central Scouting Top International Skaters (Defensemen)
No. 2: Simon Edvinsson: 6-foot-4/198 pounds; shoots left
No. 5: Daniil Chayka: 6-foot-3/197 pounds; shoots left
No. 16: Stanislav Svozil: 6-foot-1/182 pounds; shoots left
No. 17: Dmitri Kostenko: 6-foot-1/187 pounds; shoots right