The Detroit Red Wings kept their trend of picking forwards with their first pick in the NHL Entry Draft, Friday.
Detroit took 6-foot-2 Evgeny Svechnikov, 18, with the 19th overall selection in the first round.
It’s the seventh year in a row the Wings have selected a forward with their first pick, the last three prior to this year were centers.
The last defenseman Detroit selected in the first round was Brendan Smith in 2007, getting him 27th overall.
A native of Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, Russia, Svechnikov, has twice represented Russia at the Under-18 World Junior Championship.
Troy Dumville of NHL Central Scouting said of Svechnikov: “He proved to be a very skilled skater, strong on the puck and a player capable of doing a lot of things well. He plays a physical game, doesn’t back away, is aggressive on the forecheck and finishes checks.”
His point per game average of 0.95 was second-best among draft eligible QMJHL forwards, only Timo Meier (1.48) was better.
Svechnikov, whose final draft ranking was 17th, finished second among Quebec Major Junior Hockey League rookies with 78 points (32 goals, 46 assists) in 55 games.
Svechnikov, who was born on Halloween, is considered a power forward that can beat you physically. He also has enough skill and creativity offensively to beat defenders one-on-one.
His size, strength and skill allows him to compete against a variety of opponents.
His game has been compared by scouts to Max Pacioretty.
He’s the first Russian the Wings have taken in the first round since defenseman Max Kuznetsov was claimed 26th overall in 1995.
The final six rounds of the draft will take place Saturday.
The Wings don’t have a second round picks season, which they dealt away to Dallas for Erik Cole at the trade deadline last year.
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.