SUNRISE, Fla. – For the first time in 22 years, the Red Wings went an entire NHL draft without landing a Swedish prospect.
Following up their first-round selection of Russian-born center Evgeny Svechnikov on Friday, the Red Wings capped the two-day event at BB&T Center by taking two right-handed shooting defensemen, two forwards and a goaltender – none of them Swedes.
“We wanted to get a little bigger, get some defensemen, we wanted right hand shots,” said Tyler Wright, the Red Wings’ director of amateur scouting. “We thought we addressed a lot of needs and everybody’s always excited when you leave the draft but we got a lot of developing to do.”
Plenty has been made about the lack of right-handers in the Wings’ system, especially along the blue line. Eventually, newly-minted Wings’ prospects Vili Saarijarvi (third round) and Patrick Holway (sixth round) should help address that need.
“You want to take the best player and you want to address needs at the same time,” Wright said. “Obviously it’s been widely talked about and you guys have talked about it extensively. And we have to. If you don’t draft any right-handed defensemen you never have any in your system. We like these players. We kind of pushed them up on our list so we were able to have a chance with them and we got some. We’re pretty excited.”
Saarijarvi is a 5-foot-9 converted defender, who played forward as early as four years ago in Finland. He came to the U.S. last fall to play for Green Bay in the USHL, but recently signed with Karpat of the Liiga in Finland.
“I just saw him play for Finland in April,” said Hakan Andersson, the Red Wings’ director of European scouting. “I thought he was great in the World Championships. He looked really good. He looks like a puck-carrying, puck-moving defenseman. He wanted to do stuff with the puck and he did stuff with the puck.”
Holway is a 6-foot-4 college recruit from Massachusetts, who will play at the University of Maine, the alma mater of Red Wings’ Jimmy Howard and Gustav Nyquist.
“He’s a big kid that can skate, he’s got good hockey sense,” Wright said. “He’s kind of got the full package, he just hasn’t played at a high level. We liked him the whole way around. We would have been devastated if we couldn’t have got him in the seventh so we stepped up on him in the sixth.”
The Wings took 6-foot-3 Joren Van Pottelberghe, a Swiss goalie, who last year moved to Sweden. Andersson believes the Wings may have landed a gem with the fourth-round pick as most teams more than likely overlooked his situation with Linköpings last season.
“He was scheduled to be their No. 1 goalie on the Junior A team, and their only goalie on the Junior B team got injured at the beginning of the year, so they had nobody else,” Andersson said. “They had to play him because he’s a ’97 and could play on the Junior B team. Their other Junior A goalie was a ’96, so they couldn’t send him down. The kid ended up playing a lot of Junior B games. You have to know why. I don’t know if some teams thought he’s not good enough to play on the Junior A team, but there was a reason why he played a lot down there.”
Detroit also landed two players with NHL pedigrees – Canadian center Chase Pearson in the fifth round and American forward Adam Marsh in the seventh. Pearson is the son of former Toronto first-round pick Scott Pearson, who played in 292 combined NHL games for five different teams. A Chicago native, Marsh is the son of Peter Marsh, who played for the Chicago Blackhawks in the early 1980s.
It’s the third straight year the Wings have taken a prospects with NHL lineage. Last year, they took Dominic Turgeon, the son of Pierre Turgeon, in the third round. In 2013, Detroit grabbed Anthony Mantha, the grandson of Andre Pronovost, as well as Tyler Bertuzzi, the nephew of Todd Bertuzzi.
“I don’t think it plays a lot in the actual pick-making,” Wright said. “I think it has a lot of stock in (their) character. They’ve been brought up in a hockey background. It’s meant everything for them. The pedigree helps in the character department.”
Here is a glance at the Red Wings other 2015 draftees:
THIRD ROUND (No. 73)
Vili Saarijärvi, Green Bay (USHL)
Position: defense | Height: 5-foot-9 | Weight: 175 pounds | Shoots: right
Red Wings European Scout Hakan Andersson: “Everyone talks about Dallas and (Julius) Honka, he looks exactly like him. So, yeah, you have to be resilient, you have to survive, but there’s a lot of smaller Ds in the league that are good in the league because they are mobile and they’re smart. That’s what I like. The games I’ve seen he looks like he can be an offensive defenseman.”
Future Considerations Report: “The Finnish defender recently signed on with Karpat of the Liiga. The tiny puck-moving blueliner has a heavy shot from the point and moves with some strong elusiveness and quickness. He can be a bit too much of a scrambled mess in his own zone and obviously gets pushed off the puck or loses one-on-one battles too easily. But, he still plays an aggressive style of game from the blue line. He gets up the ice with regularity and also is keen on starting the transition game with a nice pass; a guy who could develop into a decent prospect again with time to develop.”
|Van Pottelberghe |
FOURTH ROUND (No. 110)
Joren Van Pottelberghe, Linköpings
Position: goalie | Height: 6-foot-3 | Weight: 180 pounds | Catches: left
Red Wings European Scout Hakan Andersson: “He moved to Sweden to play two years ago and has been very good there. Plays a lot, trains really hard. All the coaches, the goalie coaches in that club really like him. They are very impressed for a kid that young to move to another country just to become a better goalie and gives everything he has in every practice. That’s exciting. He played for Switzerland at under-18. Did OK. I saw him play in February. That’s what really convinced us. He played for the Swiss 96 team in a tournament with Sweden, Finland and Czech Republic and he played really well, really well. They tied Sweden in one of the games and I think the shots were 53-16 or something. It was 3-3 when the game was over, so he’s got it.”
Future Considerations Report: “(He’s) a big and calm goalie who uses his size and smarts well. He fills the net well with his size and keeps his stance tight. He can make some very impressive point blank saves and keeps his composure even when he sees loads of rubber. He reads the play very well and anticipates well. Very athletic when he needs to scramble, but even when he is making desperation attempts, he maintains some sense of position, lending to his calm nature. Has the mental toughness to forget about his blunders, but also learn from them. Rarely will you see him make the same mistake twice in a game. We really like his confidence in between the pipes as he comes out to challenge shooters and plays outside of the blue paint for the majority of the shots he faces.”
FIFTH ROUND (No. 140)
Chase Pearson, Youngstown (USHL)
Position: center | Height: 6-foot-3 | Weight: 180 pounds | Shoots: left
Pearson on his skill and playing style: “I think I can be a two-way forward. Offensively, I’d like to produce more than I did last year. But I know that comes with time and more development. But a big power forward. Eventually I need to put more weight on, which is something I’m focusing on in the off-season.”
Future Considerations Report: “The son of former NHLer Scott Pearson, plays a pretty simplistic game for Youngstown of the USHL, using his good size and determination to make an impact. He is a big gangly player with solid but unspectacular skating ability. He doesn’t show the purest of hands; although, he can finish and play the crash and bang game. He has no problem driving to the net and jamming home a rebound and contributes with some nice work on the cycle. We can see some pretty decent raw potential here, albeit, he is very limited offensively. We do not have him ranked in our top 210 but he still looks like he could be an OK long-term project type of pick for later in the draft.”
SIXTH ROUND (No. 170)
Patrick Holway, Boston Advantage
Position: defense | Height: 6-foot-4 | Weight: 200 pounds | Shoots: right
Red Wings Director of Amateur scouting Tyler Wright: “Very good, 6-4, 6-5. He played at a lower level in Midget Hockey in Boston. He’s committed to go to the Maine so he might be a little time. But he’s a big kid that can skate, he’s got good hockey sense. He’s kind of got the full package, he just hasn’t played at a high level. We liked him the whole away around. We would have been devastated if we couldn’t have got him in the seventh so we stepped on him in the sixth.”
Scouting Report: Heading to the University of Maine, where he will be a teammate with Red Wings’ fifth-round pick, Chase Pearson. Holway is an athletic player – he the captain on his high school lacrosse team that won the Massachusetts state championship in 2014 – who skates well and can adequately distribute the puck. His size along makes him an intriguing prospect. Despite his low-draft profile he is highly motivated to succeed.
SEVENTH ROUND (No. 200)
Adam Marsh, Saint John (QMJHL)
Position: left wing | Height: 6-foot | Weight: 165 pounds | Shoots: left
Red Wings Director of Amateur Scouting Tyler Wright: “This way a guy that we thought would be gone. We actually talked about them in the sixth and we went with the big defenseman with the right shot. (Marsh) was there in the seventh so it was a no-brainer for us.”
Future Considerations Report: “Marsh is a very smart, high energy guy. He seems to be able to fill any role offensively that the coach asks. Does not have great hands, as he loses the puck at times making a deke, but enough skills where he can control it on the rush. He possesses great speed and even better acceleration. He has a second gear with the puck and can go zero to 60 with the puck in a blink of an eye. He anticipates the play very well and even though he is not able to make every play he intends to make, he always knows the right play to make. His shot is pretty good, when he gets it off. Very slow shot release when he tries to get power behind it. He is very responsible defensively. He makes good defensive reads and closes off lanes with his body and stick. Marsh is the type of versatile player that every team needs to succeed. He is a role player, but he does not fit into just one role. He can fit anywhere the coach needs him. We get the impression that he has a pretty low ceiling offensively, but could be a solid complementary piece to a secondary scoring line or in a defensive role at the next level.”