For the second time in Steve Yzerman's tenure as Red Wings general manager, he will have a second first round selection at the 2023 NHL Entry Draft. After selecting Simon Edvinsson sixth overall in 2021, the Red Wings moved up from 23rd to 15th and took a swing on Sebastian Cossa, who looks to be the goalie of the future in Detroit.
With an above-average draft class this season, there will be plenty of talent that Detroit will be able to choose from, with the potential to help the top half of their lineup.
Using public experts' rankings and TSN's Bob McKenzie's ranking, where he polls ten different NHL scouts, here are five players that could be in range with Detroit's second of two picks in the first round of the 2023 NHL Entry Draft.
Daily Faceoff: 18th
McKenzie: Not Ranked
Elite Prospects: 26th
Being a late 2004 birthday, Danielson was more developed than other draft-eligible forwards in the WHL, yet scored at only a slightly higher than point-per-game pace (33 goals and 78 points in 68 games), which was outpaced by the likes of Zack Benson, Riley Heidt, and Brayden Yager. But a key reason behind Danielson’s somewhat underwhelming production was that he played on the Brandon Wheat Kings, one of the worst teams in the WHL this past season.
Where Danielson sets himself apart is his high-compete level and two-way game, which Steve Yzerman has emphasized as being important traits for NHL prospects and drafted Marco Kasper at eight last season, who plays a similar game. I do believe there is more untapped offense in Danielson’s game, and a future of Larkin, Kasper, and Danielson down the middle is very intriguing.
Gary Ahuja/Special to Langley Advance Times
Daily Faceoff: 16th
McKenzie: Not Ranked
Elite Prospects: 15th
Something that has been missing from not only Detroit’s prospect pool but also their NHL is a big top-six winger that can score. Samuel Honzek is listed at six-foot-four and 185 pounds and could fill that hole in Detroit.
Honzek was limited to 46 games this season with the Vancouver Giants but scored 23 goals and 33 assists, which was on pace to lead his team in points by a significant margin. Honzek is a strong two-way player who plays with a lot of detail and contributes to both special teams, which is something NHL teams value.
It was reported by The Province that Steve Yzerman was in Vancouver watching Honzek’s final two games in the first round of the WHL playoffs.
Daily Faceoff: 30th
Wheeler: Not Ranked
McKenzie: Not Ranked
Elite Prospects: 32nd
A late-season riser and a right-handed defenseman with the size and great two-way ability sound very familiar to Red Wings fans. Willander put his name into the top-15 conversation after the World Junior under-18s, where he was arguably Sweden’s best defenseman and an overall player.
Willander spent last season playing with Rogle BK’s J20 team, an organization that the Red Wings are familiar with. Moritz Seider, Marco Kasper, and William Wallinder played and excelled under the Abbott brothers, who run the Swedish club.In 39 games, Willander scored four goals and 21 assists. Willander doesn’t possess the highest offensive ceiling but is one of the best skaters in the draft, which, with his defending ability makes him an attractive target for teams starting in the top ten.
With the Red Wings moving Filip Hronek at the trade deadline, Willander could slot in on the right side of the second pairing nicely behind Moritz Seider.
Daily Faceoff: 15th
Elite Prospects: 21st
Wood has been a player who has slowly crept up public draft boards as the year has gone on. As the youngest player in NCAA this season, Wood was just under a point per game, scoring 11 goals and 23 assists in 35 games with UConn. Additionally, in seven games playing for Canada at the World Junior under-18s, Wood scored seven goals and five assists.
Listed at six-foot-three and 190 pounds, Wood already has pro size and is one of the best pure shooters in the draft. Wood can score in many ways, whether at the left faceoff dot on the powerplay or using his size to get around defenders and drive the net. Last season in the BCHL, Wood scored 45 goals in only 46 games, which not only led the league in goals, but his 85 points also came first.
The biggest knock on Wood is his skating, which could potentially limit him at the pro level. One of the most significant pieces missing in Detroit’s system is a natural scorer with a 30-plus goal upside, and Wood would certainly fill that void if he pans out.
Daily Faceoff: 17th
Elite Prospects: 31st
Aside from Matvei Michkov, Gabe Perreault might be one of the most divisive prospects in this year’s draft. Playing on the USNTDP’s top line alongside Will Smith and Ryan Leonard, Perreault broke the program’s points record, which Auston Matthews had previously set. In 63 games, Perreault scored 53 goals and 79 assists, split between regular season play and the World Junior under-18’s, where he helped lead the USA to gold.
Realistically on draft day, there is a likely possibility, given his offensive acumen, that Perreault isn’t on the board at 17.
While Perreault is among the best offensive players in the draft, his five foot-eleven and 165-pound frame, matched with sub-par skating, leaves the question of whether he can translate his scoring to the NHL level. Outside of Lucas Raymond, the Red Wings need prospects with elite offensive instincts with the potential to produce at a point-per-game pace. With extra draft capital, Steve Yzerman is in a position to take a big swing, and Perreault could be that guy.