Playoff success in the mid to late 1990s began to cost the Red Wings at the draft. As they only had two first-round selections from 1997 to 2004. While the first-rounds that they plucked from Europe – defensemen Jiri Fischer and Niklas Kronwall – were outstanding choices, the tireless work of the organizations amateur scouting staff really showed off their analyzing skills.
The Wings found a pair of late-round diamonds when they grabbed Russian center Pavel Datsyuk in the sixth round in 1998, and a year later they dipped into the seventh round to secure Swedish center Henrik Zetterberg. The team also got notable late-rounders in Tomas Holmstrom (10th round, 1994) and Jonathan Ericsson, who was the very last player taken in 2002.
In all, the Red Wings selected 94 prospects in the 10 drafts between 1993 and 2002 with just 27 having played in at least one NHL game. Together, the 27 players have played a total of 7,334 games.
This weekend the NHL will conduct its 50th amateur draft when the 30 clubs convene in Pittsburgh for the annual selection of young talent from around the world.
Each day this week, DetroitRedWings.com will present the top five draft picks for each of the five decades since the Original Six clubs first gathered for the inaugural draft on June 5, 1963 at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Montreal.
Since that June day in Montreal, the Wings have selected 438 total players, many of whom enjoyed all-star careers and a few more that were fortunate to have won multiple Stanley Cup titles like Nicklas Lidstrom, Peter Mahovlich, Sergei Fedorov and Steve Yzerman.
Today we take a look at the top top Red Wings' picks between 1993 and '02.This week’s schedule:Monday– 1963-72Tuesday – 1973-82Wednesday – 1983-92Today
- 732 Games
|Pavel Datsyuk |
- 240 Goals, 718 Points
- Two-time Stanley Cup winners
- Three All-Star Games
- Three-time Selke Trophy recipient
- Four-time Lady Byng Trophy winner
Datsyuk is just the seventh player in Wings’ draft history who was picked in the sixth-round or later, and played in more than 600 NHL games, joining Rick Zombo, Stu Grimson, Randy McKay, Dallas Drake, Dan McGillis and Tomas Holmstrom. Though he was eligible for the 1996 and ’97 NHL drafts, Datsyuk went undrafted until the Wings plucked him in ’98.
Datsyuk had a modestly successful rookie season, skating on a line with Brett Hull and Boyd Devereaux, then, a year later with Henrik Zetterberg, which was famously renamed “Two Kids and the Old Goat.” Datsyuk has come close to breaking the 100-point plateau, compiling back-to-back 97-point seasons when the Wings reached the Stanley Cup finals in 2008 and ’09. He’s widely considered the best two-way forward in the world. He continually leads the league in takeaways and has produced five seasons where he’s average more than a point per game.
- 668 Games
|Henrik Zetterberg |
- 252 Goals, 624 Points
- 2008 Stanley Cup and Conn Smythe Trophy winner
- Named to 2003 NHL All-Rookie Team
For the first time in the NHL draft, the Red Wings didn’t have a first, second, or third round pick in 1999. Good thing assistant GM Jim Nill and super scout Hakan Andersson spotted Zetterberg at a tournament in Finland. Besides Pavel Datsyuk, who was a sixth round pick in 1998, Zetterberg is an incredibly important piece to the Red Wings’ offensive success, as he was during the 2008 Stanley Cup playoffs. Zetterberg lead the league in playoff scoring that spring, tallying 13 goals with 14 assists and earning the Conn Smythe Trophy as the playoff MVP.
He holds the franchise record for having at least one point in 17 consecutive games to start a season. He has 51 goals and 51 assists in 109 playoff games spanning nine seasons.
Zetterberg is currently in the middle of a 12-year contract with the Wings which is worth $73 million, and is the most lucrative in team history.
- 1,026 Games
|Tomas Holmstrom |
- 243 Goals, 530 Points
- Four-time Stanley Cup champion
Holmstrom has said that he would give hockey in North America a shot, but he was ready to return to Sweden if things didn’t work out as he hoped. Around Christmas 1996, he was sent to Adirondack, where he played in his only minor league games of his career. He was ready to return home then, but good thing he took the assignment with a positive view and decided to stay a little longer. Four Stanley Cup championships later and Holmstrom is considering whether to retire after 15 NHL seasons or to return to the Wings next fall. Either way, the Swedish forward has been one of the most successful net-front players in NHL history.
Called the Demolition Man for a reason, Holmstrom has made a career out of playing on the power play and parking himself in front of opposing goaltenders, where he’s managed to maintain an his incredible hand-eye reflexes used to redirect shots into the net.
- 868 Games
|Mathieu Dandenault |
- 68 Goals, 203 Points
- Three-time Stanley Cup champion
Versatile certainly is a good description for Dandenault who was originally drafted as a swift-skating forward that had put up 100-point seasons in junior hockey. But injuries on the Wings’ blue line had coach Scotty Bowman scrambling to shore up the defense. Enter Dandenault who filled the bill and made the switch to defense, which, at the NHL level, is a highly unique occurrence.
Dandenault played nine seasons with the Wings, winning three Stanley Cup titles in the process. After the 2004-05 lockout, the Wings didn’t offer Dandenault the term that he was seeking, and that’s when Montreal, his hometown team, came calling. He finished his NHL career with the Canadiens, playing four seasons for the Habs, from 2005 to ’09.
- 467 Games
|Niklas Kronwall |
- 49 Goals, 218 Points
- 2008 Stanley Cup champion
The Red Wings have used a first-round pick on Swedish defensemen just twice in 49-years of the NHL draft. The hope is that the second Swede will take over the reins for the newly retired Nicklas Lidstrom who has locked down the Wings’ blue line for 20 seasons. Kronwall, often referred to as “Nick Junior” for his mild disposition on and off the ice, is now the senior member of the Wings’ defensive corps. His body-checking brutality on unsuspecting opponents has taken a life of its own on the Internet with the created of Kronwalled.net, a website that tracks the defenseman’s on-ice hits.
He is one of eights Red Wings to earn entry into the exclusive Triple Gold Club of players to win an Olympic gold, a World Championship gold, and a Stanley Cup ring.