Michael Keaton was Batman, Spike Lee urged people to “Do The Right Thing”, and Dynasty came to an end. The year was 1989, and that is how far back you’d need to go to find a season as poor as the 2017-18 Detroit Red Wings season. Amassing just 73 points, their lowest in a non-strike shortened season since 1989-90, The Red Wings held the number 3 overall pick, and selected Keith Primeau with the pick. The following season would mark the last time the Red Wings would finish below .500 until the 2016-17, a streak lasting 24 years (the Wings did make the playoffs that season, despite finishing 34-38-8).
Flash forward to 2017-18. Detroit has missed the playoffs for the second consecutive year, something they haven’t done since they missed the playoffs in 1981-82 and 1982-83.
To say that the Wings are in unique territory is an understatement; but they couldn’t have picked a better time to falter. This upcoming draft is one of the deepest in memory, and the Red Wings have an 8.5% chance of landing the top overall pick, a 26.1 percent shot at one of the top three places, and are guaranteed to hold a pick no lower than eighth. Even selecting at the lowest possible slot, there are no shortage of options for GM Ken Holland to choose from.
Rasmus Dahlin, the 18-year-old phenom defenseman from Sweden is the consensus number one choice. Many experts feel that not only would Dahlin be the best defenseman on the roster if drafted by Detroit, he may be their best player. Physical left-winger and son of a former NHL-er Brady Tkachuk would be another top option. His ability to score, and his size, are two qualities that would help the Red Wings tremendously. A third option could already be part of the Red Wing family. Andrei Svechnikov, whose brother Evgeny is a Detroit prospect, is another name at the top of many scouts lists. Svechnikov has great ability in the front of the net to score, and has been touted for his strong skating ability.
No matter where the Red Wings go, 2018-19 will be a make or break year for many in the front office, including GM Ken Holland; which could impact the future of Jeff Blashill. Detroit has already said they won’t be major players in the free agent market, so trades and the draft are going to be where they need to make the most noise; and they’ll need to make a lot of it.
The NHL Draft Lottery is scheduled to air Saturday, April 28th on NBC.