DETROIT (AP) – The Detroit Red Wings are used to drafting late in the first round, if they have one in the opening round at all.
Detroit likes to let its draft picks get “overripe” before giving them a shot to play in the NHL.
Seemingly can’t-miss prospects such as 18-year-old center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, whom the Edmonton Oilers might take No. 1 on Friday, are long gone by the time the Red Wings make their first selection.
When Detroit drafts 24th overall, the player will not have any pressure to perform in the Motor City anytime soon.
“Whomever we pick, he’s going to be three to five years away from realistically helping us on the NHL level,” Red Wings general manager Ken Holland said. “It’s not like we have one of the top picks.
“There’s a reason a player is still available at 24. We think we’re going to get a good prospect, but he’s going to need to develop quite a bit. Hopefully a few years from now, we’ll find out we found a player in the draft.”
Holland plans to take the best available player whether he’s a goaltender, defenseman or forward.
“We don’t have any idea what our needs will be down the road, so we’ll rely on our scouts,” Holland said.
The Red Wings are just starting to get contributions from a player they took first in 2005.
Defenseman Jakub Kindl, drafted 19th overall six years ago, got his first extended shot to play in Detroit last season. Defenseman Brendan Smith, taken 27th overall in 2007, might get his first chance to play for the Red Wings next season.
“We believe in a process of development,” Holland said.
That has worked for many Red Wings, including Jimmy Howard, who spent years in the minors after he was drafted in the second round of the 2003 draft and was ready to be their No. 1 goaltender the past two years.
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