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Red Wings will have the No. 6 pick in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft

Detroit has four selections in top 36 in draft considered deep into second round

by Dana Wakiji @Dwakiji /

For the Detroit Red Wings, their odds played out the way they were supposed to, not quite the way they wanted.

Despite finishing with the fifth-worst record in the NHL, the Wings ended up with the sixth overall pick in the upcoming NHL Entry Draft. They had the greatest likelihood - 34.5 percent chance - of falling to sixth.

The good news is the 2018 draft is considered to be an excellent one, stocked with many players that are expected to have an impact in the NHL, even if they don't make it next season.

"As pretty much everyone has said, this is a very strong draft," said Tyler Wright, the Wings' director of amateur scouting. "We're excited. We think we're going to get a real good player at six. We would have liked to be in the mix (for the top three), but that's the way it goes."

The draft lottery was held in Toronto with picks 4-15 announced before Game 2 between the Vegas Golden Knights and San Jose Sharks. The league revealed the top three picks during the second intermission.

The Buffalo Sabres had the best odds to get the No. 1 pick and were successful. They get the chance to draft defenseman Rasmus Dahlin, who has been everyone's top-ranked player all season.

The Carolina Hurricanes were slotted to pick 11th but moved up to second. With the fourth-worst record, the Montreal Canadiens had the best odds to get the sixth pick but moved up to third. The Ottawa Senators fell to fourth. The Arizona Coyotes have the fifth pick.

"Obviously Dahlin has separated himself," Wright said. "But there is a good mix of scoring wingers, size, competitiveness, big defensemen, some smaller defensemen. I think it's pretty interchangeable once you get 2-3-4-5 and then 6-7-8-9. If you had a magic ball and looked at everyone's draft list, it would be different.

"That speaks to the depth of this draft in a good way."

Among the defensemen who could be available at No. 6 is London Knights defenseman Evan Bouchard, who finished fourth among North American skaters in the NHL's Central Scouting's final rankings. Bouchard had 25 goals, 62 assists and was plus-23 in 67 games.

TSN's director of scouting, Craig Button, has Bouchard fifth in his final rankings. Button does not separate North Americans from Europeans in his ratings.

Another highly ranked defenseman is Acadie-Bathurst's Noah Dobson, fifth among Central Scouting's North American skaters. Dobson had 17 goals, 52 assists and was plus-33 in 67 games.

Button has Dobson ranked eighth.

Swedish defenseman Adam Boqvist is the second-ranked player among European skaters. Boqvist had 14 goals, 10 assists and was plus-6 in 25 games with Brynas IF J20.

Button has Boqvist sixth on his list.

Michigan defenseman Quinn Hughes is ranked sixth among North American skaters. Hughes, 5-foot-10 and 174 pounds, had five goals, 24 assists and was plus-14 in 37 games with the Wolverines.

Button has Hughes ranked 12th overall.

Among possible forwards who could be available at No. 6 is right wing Vitali Kravtsov, third among Central Scouting's European skaters. Kravtsov had four goals, three assists and was plus-3 in 35 games with the KHL's Traktor Chelyabinsk.

Button did not rank Kravtsov as he had not seen him at least four times.

Forward Oliver Wahlstrom of the U.S. National Team Development Program is seventh among North American skaters. Wahlstrom had 47 goals and 45 assists in 60 games for the U.S. National U18 team.

Button has Wahlstrom at No. 9.

Center Barrett Hayton finished ninth among North American skaters. Hayton had 21 goals, 39 assists and was plus-24 in 63 games with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds.

Button has Hayton as his top center and seventh overall player.

Center Jesperi Kotkaniemi is ranked sixth among European skaters. Kotkaniemi had 10 goals, 19 assists and was minus-1 in 57 games with Assat of Finland's Liiga.

Button said Kotkaniemi jumped from 26th in his January rankings to 10th overall, saying Kotkaniemi reminded him of Los Angeles Kings captain Anze Kopitar at the same age.

There are some recent examples of No. 6 picks jumping directly to the National Hockey League.

Left wing Matthew Tkachuk was the No. 6 overall pick in the 2016 draft and played 76 games for the Calgary Flames as a 19-year-old. He had 13 goals, 35 assists and was plus-14.

Center Sean Monahan was the No. 6 pick in the 2013 draft and played 75 games, also with the Flames, in the 2013-14 season, scoring 22 goals, 12 assists and was minus-20.

The Edmonton Oilers took center Sam Gagner with the sixth pick in the 2007 draft and he had 13 goals, 36 assists and was minus-21 in 79 games as an 18-year-old.

Wright knows what these players are going through as he was the Edmonton Oilers' first-round pick, 12th overall, in 1991.

"This is a hard league," Wright said. "I was a 19-year-old kid taken in the first round playing at 19 and scoring in your first game, you think the league is easy but it's not. You've been the best player all your life and you haven't had many bumps in the road. If you get too much too soon, it can stunt your development. You've got to be really careful."

Wright cited the example of Golden Knights forward William Karlsson.

"Look at William Karlsson," Wright said. "He's on his third team and now he has 43 goals and three goals in the playoffs. He went 15 games without a point in the AHL a few years ago (with the Springfield Falcons in 2014-15)."

The Wings also have the Golden Knights' first-round pick and the Senators' second-round pick.

"We have four in the top 36," Wright said. "We're excited. Not only is this draft deep in the first round, it goes deep into the second as well."

Wright plans to attend the Wings' meetings in Detroit this week in addition to doing some scouting before heading to the scouting combine in Buffalo May 27-June 2.

He has also been keeping an eye on last year's first-round pick, center Michael Rasmussen, who is the captain of the Tri-City Americans.

Rasmussen has 14 goals among 29 points in 12 playoff games.

"It's exciting for us," Wright said. "He was playing with an injury to start the year to try to get the World Junior (for Team Canada). When that didn't happen, we made the decision to fix the injury and he had surgery. He's back and healthy and has 29 points in 12 games. Obviously we're really excited about his playoffs. He's 6-6 with touch around the net. He needs a big summer to try to make the team."

The Wings have picked sixth overall once, in the 1966 draft, selecting Steve Atkinson.

Atkinson played in 302 career games but none for the Wings as they sent him to the Boston Bruins that summer to complete a deal that brought Leo Boivin and Dean Prentice to Detroit on Feb. 16, 1966.

Draft Lottery order

1. Buffalo Sabres

2. Carolina Hurricanes

3. Montreal Canadiens

4. Ottawa Senators

5. Arizona Coyotes

6. Detroit Red Wings

7. Vancouver Canucks

8. Chicago Blackhawks

9. New York Rangers

10. Edmonton Oilers

11. New York Islanders

12. New York Islanders

13. Dallas Stars

14. Philadelphia Flyers

15. Florida Panthers

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