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Best Draft in Detroit Red Wings History?

Ken Holland and the Red Wings scouts have made a living drafting players in late rounds that blossomed into superstars (see Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg). Some players have been busts though. Igor Grigorenko and Tom McCollum certainly fit that description, although Grigorenko had the excuse of being in a car accident and never really regaining his form.

There have been a couple drafts in Detroit’s history that stand out as their best, but which one is the overall best? Let’s take a look at the 1983 and 1989 drafts.

Steve Yzerman

Photo courtesy of Steve Babineau/Getty Images

In 1983, the Red Wings had the fourth overall pick and were lucky enough to have Steve Yzerman fall to him. We could just compare Yzerman to the other draft and have a pretty good argument for his draft being the best. They took Lane Lambert in the second round and had him for three okay seasons before trading him to New York for Glen Hanlon. In the third round, the Red Wings picked another long-time Red Wing in Bob Probert. Detroit took Czech sniper Petr Klima 86th overall and then Grind Line member Joe Kocur two picks later. Finally, the Red Wings took Stu Grimson in the tenth round for some more toughness. Grimson did not sign and was drafted again by Calgary two years later. Combined, this draft produced 1,323 goals, 1,713 assists, 3,036 points, and over 10,000 penalty minutes in the careers of those players. They also combined for six Stanley Cup rings.

Nicklas Lidstrom

Photo courtesy of Doug Maclelland/Getty Images

Six years later in 1989, the Red Wings were coming off of a Western Conference finals loss to the eventual Stanley Cup champion Edmonton Oilers. They had reached the Western Conference finals the year before as well. In the draft, they took Regina Pats center, Mike Sillinger, in the first round with the 11th pick. In the second round, the Red Wings drafted defenseman Bob Boughner. Then the fun began. The Wings took Nicklas Lidstrom, Sergei Fedorov, and Dallas Drake in the third, fourth, and sixth rounds, respectively. Finally, in the 11th round, Detroit took a chance and drafted a Russian defenseman by the name of Vladimir Konstantinov. Of the 14 players drafted in 1989, only one other player besides those mentioned played a game in the NHL (Shawn McCosh played nine games in his career). All of these players combined for 1,227 goals, 2,367 assists, 3,594 points, and over 5,000 penalty minutes. These players also combined for nine Stanley Cup rings as well.

So which draft was better? For the sake of this argument, let’s decide which draft was better for the Red Wings.

The players from the 1983 had direct and indirect impacts on winning the recent championships. Steve Yzerman was obviously at the center of it all. Joey Kocur was there grinding it out. Stu Grimson and Bob Probert were there before the championships to protect the skilled players as they developed. Petr Klima indirectly helped as well. He was traded in a package for Jimmy Carson, who was traded to Los Angeles later for Paul Coffey in a multi-player deal. Paul Coffey would eventually be sent to Hartford for Brendan Shanahan, who was right there alongside Yzerman for three championships.

From the 1989 draft, Lidstrom, Fedorov, and Konstantinov developed with the Wings and won the 1997 championship together. Bob Boughner and Mike Sillinger did not have any impact on the Cup runs. Sillinger was actually traded for Stu Grimson in 1995 before the run to the finals. Nicklas Lidstrom and Sergei Fedorov were dynasty players that were essential to winning the 1998 and 2002 Stanley Cups as well. Dallas Drake and Lidstrom were in Detroit for the 2008 Cup as well.

My vote: the 1989 draft was the best. It comes down to Yzerman vs. Fedorov and Lidstrom. Steve Yzerman was my hockey idol growing up, but Fedorov and Lidstrom were essential to starting the Red Wings dynasty.

What do you think?

 

Stats and draft results provided by hockeydb.com

Top 9: Odd Facts from the Regular Season

This past season has been a strange one by Red Wings’ standards. Injuries, new conference opponents, youth in the lineup, and a compressed schedule (because of the Olympics) have made the regular season a trying one at times. However, Detroit persevered and made the playoffs for the 23rd straight season. Before the Red Wings take on the big, bad Bruins on Friday, let’s take a look at the Top 9 odd notes from this season:

Mike Babcock

Photo courtesy of Norm Hall/NHLI

9. In a season marred by injuries and losing streaks, Mike Babcock passed both Scotty Bowman and Jack Adams to become the Red Wings’ all-time coaching wins leader. Babs finished the regular season with 415 wins in Detroit. Hopefully there will be many more wins added to that number.

 

 

Gordie Howe

Photo courtesy of Richard Meek/SI

8. In his first season in Detroit, Daniel Alfredsson led the Red Wings with 49 points. He is the oldest player (41) to lead the Red Wings in scoring since Gordie Howe did it during the 1969-70 season. I’d like to see Detroit bring back Alfredsson for another season, but we will get to that once the playoffs are over and free agency and the draft are the priorities.

 

 

 

Daniel Alfredsson

Photo courtesy of Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

7. Alfredsson and Niklas Kronwall led the team with 49 points this season, though Alfredsson scored that many in fewer games that Kronwall. Their point totals were the lowest to lead the Red Wings in scoring since Joe Carveth led Detroit with 35 points during the 1945-46 season. Back then, teams only played 48 games in the regular season.

 

 

Fedorov

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

6. Alfredsson and Kronwall’s 49 points is the lowest to lead Detroit in scoring in the Modern Era. No one has led Detroit with less points since teams began playing 70 games (or 80, or 82, or 84…) in the regular season. Players like Howe, Steve Yzerman, and Sergei Fedorov consistently scored more than 49 points. In fact, they usually hit the 49-point mark 49 games into the season (or earlier).

 

 

 

 

 

Pavel Datsyuk

Photo courtesy of Marc DesRosiers/USA Today Sports

5. On that note, Pavel Datsyuk scored 49 points last season…in 47 games. The Magic Man scored as many points as Detroit’s leaders this season in a lockout-shortened year last year. In addition, during the 1994-95 lockout-shortened season, both Fedorov and Paul Coffey bested 49 points each. Offense dipped this year, but it was spread out amongst many different players.

 

 

 

 

Jimmy Howard

Photo courtesy of Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images

4. Jimmy Howard‘s 21 wins are the lowest to lead the Red Wings since Glen Hanlon only won 15 for Detroit during the 1989-90 season. That was the last season before the playoff streak started. Injuries to the lineup, inconsistent play, and injuries to Jimmy himself prevented that number from being higher.

 

 

 

 

 

Gustav Nyquist

Photo courtesy of Dave Reginek/Detroit Red Wings

3. Gustav Nyquist led Detroit with 28 goals this season. The odd fact about that was that he was not part of the opening night lineup. Nyquist started the year in the minors and played 15 games for the Grand Rapids Griffins before getting called up to the show. It was more of a salary cap move to keep Nyquist in the minors for so long, but the signings of Daniel Cleary during training camp and Mikael Samuelsson and Jordin Tootoo the previous season to play over Nyquist was questionable then and now.

 

 

Tomas Jurco

Photo courtesy of Julian H. Gonzalez/Detroit Free Press

2. The Red Wings had nine different players make their NHL debuts this season. Tomas Jurco, Luke GlendeningLandon Ferraro, Teemu Pulkkinen, and Mitch Callahan got a chance to crack the top-12 forwards, while Adam Almqvist, Alexey Marchenko, Xavier Ouellet, and Ryan Sproul made their NHL debuts on defense. So many rookies making cracking the lineup is certainly an oddity in Detroit, considering the Red Wings overdevelop their prospects and prefer to have veterans suit up over rookies.

 

Steve Yzerman

Photo courtesy of Mary Schroeder/Detroit Free Press

1. Detroit’s 39 wins this season is the lowest win total in a non-lockout-shortened season since the 1996-97 team finished the year with 38 wins. While losing sucks, I’ll gladly take 39 wins because the Red Wings happened to win the Stanley Cup in 1997 after the “subpar” regular season.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Statistics provided by hockeydb.com