With the 19th pick in the first round Friday, Wings most likely taking best player available

DETROIT >> Six years in a row the Detroit Red Wings have selected a forward with their first pick in the NHL Entry Draft.

That could again be the case this season or it could not.

The Wings have the 19th overall pick in first round of this year’s draft that begins Friday at the BB&T Center in Sunrise, Fla.

“At No. 19, we definitely got some options,” said Tyler Wright, who’s the Wings’ director of amateur scouting. “We’re confident we’re going to get two pretty good players at 19 and 73. We have options, too.”

The other options include choosing a defenseman or moving the pick.

The Wings could trade down to add picks since they don’t have a second rounder this season, which they dealt away to Dallas for Erik Cole at the trade deadline last year.

“For sure, especially with no second this year,” Wright said when asked if trading down was a possibility. “It’s obviously an option.”

The Wings traded down two spots – from 18 to 20 – to get Anthony Mantha in 2013. They also picked up an additional pick and took Tyler Bertuzzi (58th overall).

“We’re going through every scenario as far as moving back and picking up extra picks,” Wright said. “I’m not opposed to moving up either. Not going to leave any option closed. I’m OK with moving back.”

The last defenseman Detroit selected in the first round was Brendan Smith in 2007, getting him 27th overall.

The Wings’ first three picks in last year’s draft were centers, while six of the seven were forwards, who were all 6-foot or taller. The other was a goalie.

“Last year we didn’t really target centers,” Wright said. “At that point the depth of defense went away. We’re excited about the bigger centers. Just because they’re centers doesn’t mean they’ll be a center at the next level.

“I don’t think we’re really going to target specific needs,” Wright continued. “But if you never draft right-handed defensemen you’re not going to have right-handed defensemen. If there’s one area we’re looking at, that’s it. But we want good players regardless.”

The depth on the blue line in the organization is lacking with their top four prospects – Alexey Marchenko, Xavier Ouellet, Nick Jensen and Ryan Sproul – will no longer be waiver-exempt after this season.

“I really like our depth,” Wright said. “You get all excited about prospects, but at the same time they haven’t played a game in the league. Young kids need to develop and get better. I think we’ve got a cluster of really good prospects. We have to continue to develop them. Until they’ve been regular NHL players they have to prove it every day.”

The final six rounds of the draft will take place Saturday.

“You look at all three positions,” Wright said. “It’s a fairly deep goalie draft. You try to add a goalie if it’s the right pick at the right time. I think goalies are a little harder to judge as far as development. If you have too many goalies that are good, that’s a good position to have.”

In the end the Wings will most likely select the best player available at No. 19 if they keep the pick.

“Everyone says it’s a deeper draft,” Wright said. “I think every draft is a deep draft. You have to dig and find players.

“It’s a very good draft,” Wright added. “Once you get out of the top 10-12 players there’s a group of players that could go into the second round and be successful players – at all three positions.”


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