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Wings drafted for added depth up the middle

by Bill Roose / Detroit Red Wings
Dominic Turgeon pulls on a Red Wings sweater for the first time after he became the No. 63 overall pick Saturday in Philadelphia. (Photo by Getty Images)

PHILADELPHIA – The Red Wings have shown a recent affinity for athletic lineage when it comes to compiling their amateur draft list.

Following up Friday’s first-round selection of Dylan Larkin – who’s dad and uncles played collegiate soccer in the United States – the Red Wings made a trade Saturday morning to get Dominic Turgeon, the son of former NHL star Pierre Turgeon.

“Dominic Turgeon is a guy that we targeted really high,” said Tyler Wright, the Wings’ director of amateur scouting. “If we would have had our second (round pick) we would have taken him there. So it prompted us to make a move. He was a guy that we thought if we could get him in the second and he feel into the third we didn’t want to risk that chance (by) waiting a couple of more picks. We wanted him and he’s got good blood lines.”

The Red Wings move up 13 spots, trading their No. 76 pick and a third-round pick in 2015 to Columbus in order to nab Turgeon at No. 63.

“I knew they were interested but at the time they didn’t have a pick around there so I wasn’t too sure,” said Turgeon, who produced 31 points in 65 games with Portland in the Western Hockey League. “But it feels really good.”

In all, Detroit selected six forwards and one goaltender, American Chase Perry, who is headed to Colorado College in the fall.

“We’re very satisfied,” said Wright of the seven prospects picked at Wells Fargo Center this weekend. “We said if we could walk out of there with players like Larkin and Turgeon with the first two picks we would be excited about that. We got a goalie later and rounded it out with some big-bodied guys that need some time to develop, but they’re all names in our pool.”

While his point production last season wasn’t very impressive, there was a logical explanation for Turgeon who had more of a two-way role with the Winterhawks, a team that featured previously drafted players Nic Petan (Winnipeg), Oliver Bjorkstrand (Columbus) and Brendan Leipsic (Nashville).

Turgeon played on Portland’s third line with Keegan Iverson (New York Rangers) and Alex Schoenborn (San Jose), who were also third-round draft picks on Saturday.

“I feel like with the players that we had through the years I was put in a certain role, maybe limited me a little bit,” Turgeon said. “But as time goes on I feel like my offensive game is going to be very big and it’s going to come.”

Certainly, the Winterhawks’ offensive depth has slowed Turgeon’s scoring, it has allowed the 6-foot-1, 198-pound center to adapt and grow slower than it would have in a weaker environment that would have brought greater exposure.

Scouts believe Turgeon has a great hockey IQ with the puck on his stick. He’s considered to be an intelligent playmaker, who plays a puck-possession style and finds options with crisp, accurate passes.

“You can tell by the way he plays, he’s got great hockey sense, played on a team where he kind of got moved back because of a lot of older and high-skilled guys who are moving on now,” Wright said. “He’s going to inherit a little bit of a bigger role next year and we hope his scoring ability will show. But we’re really excited about getting him where we did.”

Turgeon, 18, has two more years of junior eligibility, and he plans to return to Portland this fall.

The Red Wings like Turgeon’s maturity and how he accepted his role from former Winterhawks coach Mike Johnston, who last week accepted the Pittsburgh Penguins head coaching job.

“He hasn’t been in a top offensive role because of the depth of the team that they’ve had,” said Jiri Fischer, the Red Wings’ director of player development. “It was a junior dynasty that they built three years in a row. He was on a star-studded team and he had to work hard for everything that he got. So his offense came from out-playing someone 5-on-5. He wasn’t handed the key to the power play, and that’s exciting especially with a lot of (Portland) players leaving next year.

“He’s been guided very, very well, and our scouts, Jeff Finley and Tyler Wright, who have seen him the most, they love his smarts, his defensive play, which is always a sign of a huge maturity level for young kids.”

Turgeon becomes the fifth player in the Wings’ development system with family members who played in the NHL, joining Anthony Mantha, Tyler Bertuzzi, Landon Ferraro and Louis-Marc Aubry.

“I think it’s just coincidental,” Fischer said. “From Mantha to Bertuzzi to Aubry I think it just happens. Certainly in the last couple of drafts there have been a few kids that you can make an argument for. It’s been profiled quite a bit and it makes for good stories. It seems to be a media-attracting theme.”

Here is a glance at the Red Wings other 2014 draftees:

CHRISTOFFER EHN, C/LW, 4th ROUND, No. 106: From the same Frolunda program in Sweden that Red Wings center Joakim Andersson played for, Ehn is a 6-foot-3 late bloomer, Fischer said.

Hakan Andersson, the Red Wings director of European scouting, is a board member for the Frolunda program and has seen plenty of Ehn’s development. The 18-year-old was brought up to the SuperElit team where he produced 11 points in 45 games last season.

“The coaches were thrilled with the potential,” Andersson said. “Good hockey sense, always looking around to make plays but has a lot of work to do. He’s lean. He’s a tall kid, needs to fill in. I got good hopes for him. He’s got some raw stuff you can’t really teach.”

CHASE PERRY, GK, 5th ROUND, No. 136: A good-sized goalie, Perry played Tier II Junior A hockey in Wenatchee (Wash.) of the North American Hockey League. Scouts have said that the Andover, Minn., native possesses very good technique and uses his edges well to stop and change direction. He has some issues to work on, which the Red Wings hope can be addressed over the next couple of seasons at Colorado College, where he has committed to play.

“Goaltenders need to develop, they need to be coached,” Wright said. “He’s a big kid, an athletic kid, so hopefully we can start molding these guys in the right direction.”

JULIUS VAHATALO, F, 6th ROUND, No. 166: At 6-foot-5 and 192-pounds, the Finnish forward is the tallest of the Red Wings 2014 draft picks. He was the second leading scorer on his TPS team with 18 goals and 39 points in 33 games in the Jr. A SM-liiga.

“Played for TPS in Finnish league, that’s where Ari Vouri (the Wings’ Finnish scout) lives,” Andersson said. “He knows him very well. He was injured and came back and played well for them. They put him up on the men’s team, too. I saw him a couple of games. Very big, skates well, very lean also. Has 2-3 years hard work just to fill out to normal size for a 6-foot-5 guy but he has ability. He was a real point producing junior before he got injured, over a point per game. We’re hoping if he comes back from that we might have a guy there.”

AXEL HOLMSTROM, C, 7th ROUND, No. 196: A 6-foot, 196-pound center, Holmstrom, who is no relation to former Red Wings forward Tomas Holmstrom, was the second-highest scorer with 15 goals and 38 points for Skellefteå in the SuperElit league.

Holmstrom played on Sweden’s U-18 World Championship team with William Nylander, who was Toronto’s first-round pick on Friday.

“(Axel) is a really hard worker,” Andersson said. “He’s really committed to training and has good hockey sense. He and Nylander found some chemistry. He has some point-producing ability and really works hard. He has a chance to make the World Junior team. They both do actually.”

ALEXANDER KADEYKIN, C, 7th ROUND, No. 201 (from San Jose): Kadeykin is a 20-year-old Russian from Elektrostal, which is just east of Moscow. He played parts of the past two seasons with Atlanty Mytischi of the KHL, producing eight goals and 23 points in 56 games.

“As a 20-year-old I think he was their first or second line center and he was plus-17, which is good,” Andersson said. “He’s a big guy, too, 6-foot-4 and has some hands. Has a little work on the skating but his skating is good enough to play in the KHL as a 20-year old, so it’s not all bad.”

By adding so many versatile forwards to the mix this weekend, the Red Wings hope they’ve improved the organization’s depth up the middle.

“We have a bunch of guys that if one pans out, we might have a centerman for (Anthony) Mantha one day,” Andersson said. “That’s what we’re hoping. We’ll see. Draft a bunch of guys and then hope.”

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