DETROIT — The Red Wings missed out on landing a top spot in the NHL Draft lottery, but Steve Yzerman insists Detroit will land a very good player with the sixth overall pick.
Jack Hughes and Kaapo Kakko will go in the top two spots. From there, the class drops slightly, but this draft has a lot of top-level talent.
Yzerman spoke to reporters on Thursday at Little Caesars Arena about his draft strategy.
"The big two are up top and they get a lot of attention, and they deserve it,” Yzerman said.
He's expecting a group of six to seven players to choose from with the sixth pick. That group could include USA NTDP center Trevor Zegras, the top prospect from Canada, center Dylan Cozens, fellow WHL center Kirby Dach, all-time NTDP leading goal-scorer Cole Caufield, and Russian forward Vasili Podkolzin.
“We’re excited, maybe it’s a different level of prospect, but we’re as excited about the 35th pick. I don’t know who that will be at this time, but we’re exited, and we think there’s a good group of players."
Yzerman continues to preach the importance of drafting well, and as the Red Wings rebuild adds him as the chief builder, he has three second round picks this month to go along with the No. 6 overall pick.
“Ideally, we hit on all these prospects and have players who turn out for us. There’s no guarantee of that," Yzerman said.
The Red Wings have the extra second round picks from the Tomas Tatar and Gustav Nyquist deals.
"You look back through the history of the draft and percentages of players playing for us, it’s more difficult than it seems," he added. "It sure speeds things up the more players you can get out of each draft, it speeds up the process.”
Yzerman and his staff spent part of May at the NHL Combine. He met with a handful of prospects.
"Mostly I just like to meet them and get a feel for their personality a little bit. It doesn’t really change where we have them in or order," Yzerman added.
He said he intends to run the draft table in Vancouver, but will defer to scouts in the later rounds.
"This is what they’re paid to do.”