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NASHVILLE -- In a span of roughly 40 minutes on Wednesday night, Executive Vice President and General Manager Steve Yzerman twice injected more exciting young talent into the Detroit Red Wings organization.

With a pair of first-round picks on Day 1 of the 2023 NHL Entry Draft, the Red Wings selected center Nate Danielson with the ninth overall pick before taking defenseman Axel Sandin Pellikka at No. 17.

"We have a lot of priorities,"

"We think we were able to address two of them here tonight."

Detroit added to its organizational depth in the middle by taking Danielson, a 6-foot-2, 186-pound prospect who entered Wednesday ranked seventh overall among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting.

Danielson captained the Western Hockey League's Brandon Wheat Kings during the 2022-23 season and led the club in goals (33), assists (45), points (78) power-play goals (13), power-play points (38) and short-handed goals (3). The Edmonton native's impressive campaign earned him honors on the WHL East Division's Second All-Star Team and an appearance at the 2023 CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game.

"Honestly, I didn't really believe it,"

"A dream come true ever since I was a little kid. So to hear my name actually called from Steve Yzerman, I didn't really believe it at first."

Danielson's well-rounded game impressed the Red Wings' amateur scouting department, according to Yzerman.

"We like all parts of his game," Yzerman said. "He's got pretty good size. He's a good skater, he's got good skills and is a good two-way centerman. A lot to like about him, really. Just a solid, all-around prospect."

For Danielson, who made his WHL debut for Brandon in 2020-21, his experience with the Wheat Kings has been "crucial" to his development.

"In Brandon, they got a ton of great people there with all the coaching staff as well as behind the scenes," the 18-year-old Danielson said. "Everyone has been really good development-wise as well as just being a good person. A lot of people there to thank."

The Red Wings prioritized defense eight picks later by selecting Sandin Pellikka, a 5-foot-11, 180-pound blueliner who spent this past season with Skellefteå AIK in the Swedish Hockey League. He entered Wednesday ranked second among international defenseman by NHL Central Scouting.

"Just a sigh of relief, an unbelievable feeling,"

. "Just getting up to hug my parents, siblings, grandma and grandpa, agent - it's an unexplainable feeling. I'm so happy to be part of the Detroit Red Wings."

In 22 games with Skellefteå AIK, Sandin Pellikka recorded five points on two goals and three assists as well as a plus-2 rating. His five points were the most of any defenseman 18 years of age or younger in the country's highest professional league.

"I think he's a good offensive d-man," Yzerman said about Sandin Pellikka. "He skates well, has good puck skills and a very good hockey sense. A little bit different than what we have in our system, so I think it was a good fit."

Yzerman said the Red Wings discussed swapping draft picks with other clubs, but Detroit ultimately felt more comfortable standing pat.

"Ultimately, you even think about moving up or back with both [picks]," Yzerman said. "Obviously, we chose not to move up. And when our picks were coming up, the options to move back were interesting. But had two particular players in each case that we wanted to use the picks on."

Red Wings director of amateur scouting Kris Draper said that while Detroit is pleased with its 2023 Draft selections so far, a busy Day 2 is on the horizon.

"A pretty good prospect pool,"

"Obviously some very good names that got called tonight. Now tomorrow, we have three seconds in a row - 41, 42, 43 - so we'll be busy right off the hop here."

The 2023 NHL Entry Draft concludes Thursday with Rounds 2-7, beginning at 11 a.m. ET / 10 a.m. CT. The Red Wings currently have eight picks in the final six rounds, including the three in the second round (41st, 42nd and 43rd), and one each in the third (73rd), fourth (117th), fifth (137th), sixth (169th) and seventh rounds (201st).