DETROIT – With the 24th pick in the first round of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft Friday night, the Detroit Red Wings felt it better served them to trade out of the slot for more picks later.
Their plan worked perfectly.
With those two second round picks the Wings got from the Ottawa Senators, Detroit drafted right wing Tomas Jurco and defenseman Xavier Ouellet Saturday morning at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn.
“It’s different if you’re picking in the top 15 or 20,” Wings assistant general manager Jim Nill said in a phone interview Saturday afternoon. “You know someone is going to drop to you. When you’re picking in the bottom third of the first round, that doesn’t happen.”
It’s the third time in the last six seasons Detroit has traded out of the first round.
“We got to the point in the draft and there were still 20 or so players that we liked that were all kind of the same,” Nill said. “We felt it would be better to get two or three of those rather than one. It worked out well. We got two of them that we wanted.”
Nill compared Jurco to former Wing Marian Hossa.
“We just like his combination of size and skill,” Nill said. “He’s got high-end potential to his game.”
Jurco, who represented Slovakia at the 2011 World Junior Championships, helped lead Saint John’s to the 2011 Memorial Cup with a tournament-tying four goals in four games and was the 20th player ranked by NHL Central Scouting.
“He’s a very good skater with size and excellent puck skills. He has all the tools of a first-round draft pick,” NHL Central Scouting’s Chris Bordeleau said.
His coach and former Wing Gerard Gallant said, “He does different things at practice some guys would view as being cocky, but Tomas does it because he wants to score a goal doing it. I just tell him to do what he feels comfortable doing. We’re not here to show up anybody, but if that’s the move you think you could score a goal with, do it. He’s a big-bodied guy with a great skill level and competes really hard.”
Ouellet played for Montreal of the QMJHL last season where he had eight goals and 35 assists in 67 games. His NHL Central Scouting ranking slipped from 39th at the midterm to 60th.
“(Ouellet is a) smooth skating, real good puck moving, solid defenseman,” Nill continued. “He had a very strong season and put up good points. He’s one of those guys that can play all night.”
The Wings also selected defenseman Ryan Sproul with their third second round pick, 55th overall.
“He’s got good size and is a good skater,” Nill said. “He really came on strong at the end of the year.”
Sproul, who had 14 goals and 19 assists with Sault Ste. Marie of the OHL last season, shot up the NHL Central Scouting rankings. His final ranking was 54th after having a midterm rank of 124th.
TSN scout Grant McGagg said that Sproul posses a heavy slap shot, that sees the ice well and finds shooting lanes.
“We like the way things fell,” Nill said. “We moved down to get the extra picks and we ended up getting a couple of guys that we wanted. That worked out pretty well.
“I think we did a good job adding some size to our team,” Nill added. “We got some good sized defensemen. We’re happy with what we’ve got.”
The Wings rounded out their draft by selecting center Alan Quine of Peterborough (OHL) in the third round (85th overall); right wing Marek Tvrdon of Vancouver (WHL) in the fourth round (115th overall); center/right wing Philippe Hudon (145th overall) and defenseman Mattias Backman (146th overall) in the fifth round and defenseman Richard Nedomlel in the sixth round (175th overall).
Quine (5-11, 178 pounds) had 26 goals and 27 assists for 53 points in 69 games last season.
Tvrdon is 6-2, 210-pounds and a native of Nitra, Slovakia. He had six goals and five assists in 12 games for the Giants.
Hudon (6-0, 190) went to Choate-Rosemary High School in Connecticut and will attend Cornell University.
Backman (6-2, 169) played for Linkoping Juniors in Sweden. He had two goals and 18 assists in 27 games a year ago.
Nedomlel, a native of Prague, Czech Republic, plays for Swift Current (WHL). He had no goals, 10 assists and 107 penalty minutes in 66 games last season.
With their final pick, 205th overall, the Wings took defenseman Alexei Marchenko (6-2, 183) from CSKA in Russia.
Marchenko went undrafted last season despite being highly ranked.
“He’ll be one of the top defensemen on Russia’s World Junior team,” Nill said. “He’s one of the better young defensemen in Russia.
“Our Russian scouts know him well and he says he wants to come out in a year,” Nill added. “So we feel we have the ability to get him (in the NHL) if we need to.”
In total, Detroit drafted four forwards and five defensemen.
“Every team has pressure to win,” Nill said. “We’re all in the same business and it’s become equal. Everyone has the same money, so the system has leveled out.
“There has only been two teams since the lockout to make the playoffs every year, us and San Jose,” Nill added. “We want that trend to continue. If we continue doing that it means we’re doing something right.”