It's hard not to view the 2018 NHL draft as particularly crucial for the Detroit Red Wings. Now that Ken Holland knows his job is safe for a while longer, he has an opportunity to reshape the team a little bit. It's probably going to end up taking longer than the Wings would like, but there is an opportunity to make some significant gains in their prospect system.
In what is considered a deep draft, particularly within the top 50, the Red Wings have two first-rounders and two early second-round picks. Add in three more third-rounders, and the Red Wings have seven of the first 90 picks in the draft. Of the years to have a surplus of early picks, this should be a particularly fruitful one. The Wings join the New York Rangers as the only two teams with seven picks in the first three rounds of the draft this year. To finish out the draft, Detroit additionally has a fourth-rounder, a pair of sixth-round picks and a seventh-rounder.
Of the picks, No. 6 overall is obviously the one they can't miss on. This is a year in which the top 10 looks particularly strong. Not winning the draft lottery likely does not afford the Red Wings an NHL-ready asset next season, but they could still net a player who instantly becomes the top prospect in their system and a player with a great opportunity to have a lasting impact on the franchise. It all comes down to finding the right fit for the organization.
The rest of the picks have a chance to fill out a system that has some intrigue, but there are a lot of unknowns and longer-term projects for Detroit right now. There won't be any quick-fix options in the draft, but there is enough here to aid the Red Wings a few years down the line when they're a little further along in their transitional phase.
As we did for the Rangers, the abundance of picks in the top 90 makes Detroit a great team to look at and see what its first half of the draft could look like. While it's next to impossible to know for sure which players will be available, I'll estimate who I think will still be on the board and plug in a player who I think would be a good fit for the organization. This also assumes the team holds onto all of its available picks. Unlike the mock draft, this is less about who I think the team will pick and more what I would do if I were in their position. Let's take a look.
No. 6 pick: Quinn Hughes, D, Michigan (Big Ten)
Age: 18 | Shoot: L | Ht: 5-10 | Wt: 170
37 GP | 5 G | 24 A