NASHVILLE -- Even extreme weather could not prevent new Detroit Red Wings defenseman prospect Axel Sandin Pellikka from achieving his dream.

Due to hazy conditions stemming from Canadian wildfires permeating across the Midwest and East Coast, Sandin Pellikka's originally scheduled flight from New York to Nashville on Monday was delayed before it was eventually cancelled.

Sandin Pellikka said his travel group - consisting of his agent (Claes Elefalk), brother, parents, grandparents and 2021 Red Wings fifth-round draft pick Liam Dower-Nilsson - had to devise a new plan to get to Bridgestone Arena by Wednesday night for Round 1 of the 2023 NHL Entry Draft.

Axel Sandin Pellikka | Media Availability | 06/28/23

"My agent, he made us get into a hotel, so we stayed one night and tried to find some good solutions," Sandin Pellikka said after being selected No. 17 overall by Detroit on Wednesday. "The best one was to drive."

So they set off Tuesday at 8 a.m., separating into two rental cars for the long journey ahead.

"I was with Liam, Claes and my little brother in my car," Sandin Pellikka said. "In the other, my dad, mom, granddad and grandma. They were driving behind me. As soon as I went over the speed limit, my mother would call my agent and be like, 'Just tell him to slow down! He can't be driving like that.' She looks out for me."

It was a 15-hour commute, according to Sandin Pellikka, who said his group mostly conversed with each other to pass the time.

"It was only us talking," Sandin Pellikka said. "There was no music. We listened to 'Country Roads' once because we talked about it. Claes put it up on his phone, but other than that it was just silent on the radio."

Sandin Pellikka said they also made a few stops along the way to enjoy some fast food.

"Just stopped at all the good things that America has to offer - you know, Chipotle and Five Guys, those kinds of places," Sandin Pellikka said.

When reflecting on the last leg of the road trip, Sandin Pellikka said he was exhausted after 15 hours in a small car.

"The last four hours I was driving and then my arms were starting to feel numb," Sandin Pellikka said. "I look over to my agent and he was just laying there sleeping."

But on Tuesday around 11:30 p.m., they finally arrived in Nashville.

"New experience for me," Sandin Pellikka said. "I've only had my driver's license for like a month before I got to drive here in the U.S., so a fun road trip."

It certainly wasn't the kind of start to his NHL Draft experience that Sandin Pellikka expected, but the 18-year-old said there was never a doubt that he would miss hearing his name called.

"I was sure the whole time I was gonna make it here," Sandin Pellikka said. "Maybe the last 20 minutes, when I didn't know if I was sleeping, driving or dreaming. I always had a feeling I would get here."

And as thrilled as Sandin Pellikka was to arrive in Nashville, Detroit was just as excited to welcome the young Swedish blueliner into the organization.

"Obviously, we really like the hockey sense and his poise with the puck," Red Wings director of amateur scouting Kris Draper said. "Another impressive young man, the way he speaks. He was 17 years old and played in the World Juniors. By the end of the tournament, he was running the power play, a big part of it. Saw him a lot in international play, playing with Team Sweden, the U18s on the silver medal team and running a power play.

"And that was the thing you just kept coming back to: he's really smart. He knows how to manage the game and the puck. He has deception with it, and he really moves well on the offensive blue line as well."