DETROIT -- With one week until the 2024 NHL Entry Draft, which takes place June 28-29 at Sphere in Las Vegas, Executive Vice President and General Manager Steve Yzerman is planning to continue his usual draft strategy when the Detroit Red Wings are on the clock for their first pick at No. 15 overall.

“I think we’re still in that phase of taking the best prospect,” Yzerman said in a pre-draft Zoom call with the media on Friday morning. “Having said that, if you have two or three (prospects) that are relatively equal, maybe we look at need. We’ll take that into a little bit more consideration, but I think we’ll ultimately take who we feel the best prospect is.”

Steve Yzerman | Media Availability

The Red Wings currently have eight selections in this year’s draft. So as Yzerman and his amateur scouting staff put the finishing touches on their draft board, with no certainty which prospects will be available when it’s Detroit’s turn to pick, trusting that strategy remains key.

“We’re looking at that 15th pick, that’s still a pretty high pick,” Yzerman said. “It’s important that we get a good player. It’s important that we get a player that honestly, plays for us in the NHL. We need that and it’s not as simple or automatic as we all like to think it is. When you’re picking high, you want to make sure you’re getting a good prospect regardless of the position.”

Yzerman said although trades are always possible, he is comfortable keeping Detroit’s lone first-round selection.

“I’m not in a big hurry to be trading our first-round pick,” Yzerman said. “I would be open to it. We traded a first-round pick in this year’s draft for Alex DeBrincat last summer. Turned out to be a late first that Ottawa has, so I'm not afraid of doing that. But I don't anticipate at this stage us making a trade for a player that would involve the 15th pick.”

Of the 11 picks Detroit made at the 2023 NHL Draft, there were four forwards, five defensemen and two goaltenders. And as the Red Wings continue accumulating young talent via the draft, Yzerman said it’s also important to maintain organizational depth.

“You have to take into consideration how many prospects you have at each position because ultimately when they turn pro, you got to find a spot for them to play,” Yzerman said. “Not as big an issue with forwards. Goaltenders, for sure it’s a concern because generally teams have five, maybe six within their system.”

Yzerman, who is set to oversee his fifth draft since taking over as Red Wings GM, said it’s nearly impossible to predict if and for how long a prospect will succeed at the NHL level. That’s why he’s planning to pursue upside on the draft floor.

“We’re just looking for kids who we think are really good prospects and will be really good players,” Yzerman said. “What role they eventually fall into will work itself out.”

While this year’s draft will take place in Las Vegas, Commissioner Gary Bettman said at the 2023 NHL Global Series in Sweden that the league is exploring the idea of implementing a more decentralized draft format starting in 2025.

When asked about his draft-day preferences, Yzerman said he would be open to the new format.  

“Some benefits or conveniences of all being in one place at the same time, but personally I like being in the room with our staff,” Yzerman said. “It’s a little quieter, a little less noise. Even just walking by another table, you want to have a conversation but feel like you’re spying a little bit. Just a lot going on. I’d much rather be in our own room.”