The 2016 NHL Draft is 18 days away, and the Wild are looking for that next superstar to elevate their franchise. Hockey Wilderness is counting down to the big event with a daily Mock Draft. We are at Pick 16 today, and the Detroit Red Wings are on the clock.
Detroit's Prospect Pool
The Red Wings have been rightfully acclaimed for years for always being able to draft impact players despite making the playoffs every season. I'm not even talking about finding Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg back in the 90s, either. Look at their roster, and you'll find players that were discovered in the mid-to-late rounds of the draft making an impact. Petr Mrazek is perhaps the best young goaltender in the game- he was selected in Round 5 in 2010. Two-time 25-goal scorer Gustav Nyquist was taken in the 4th round in 2008.
But now we're seeing a lot of young Red Wings make the leap into the NHL. In the past few seasons, we've seen Mrazek, Dylan Larkin, Tomas Tatar, Riley Sheahan, Teemu Pulkkinen, and Tomas Jurco stake their claim to NHL roles. And while Detroit's ability to backfill aging and departing veterans with prospects has been a strength for years, that might start to be fading.
It's not so bad up front. The Red Wings have Evgeny Svechnikov, their first-round pick last year, who had another stellar year in the QMJHL. Anthony Mantha is incredibly intriguing- a speedy, 6'5" sniper who's cutting his teeth at Grand Rapids.
But when you look down the middle and at the blue line, there's not really much star-power there. Obviously, this isn't as big of a concern when you consider that Dylan Larkin is just 19, but with Datsyuk's departure looming and the aging defense in Detroit, there could stand to be more upside waiting in the wings.
While there are forwards who would fit what Detroit is looking for available, I'm going to select a player who I feel is an even better match for the Red Wings: Mikhail Sergachev.
About Mikhail Sergachev
Sergachev is coming off an amazing season for the Windsor Spitfires, where he was selected as the OHL's Defenseman of the Year. He notched 17 goals and 57 points while helping run Windsor's power play, but there's more to Sergachev than his offensive numbers. The 6'2" Russian is also a physical player in the defensive zone, and moves the puck well in part to his skating ability.
He can beat you in several ways. On offense, he can either shoot or use his vision to find a teammate. On defense, he can lay a hit on you, or he can use his positioning to lead you where you don't want to go, or he can just take the puck from you and push it back up the ice. He's truly a complete package, and if he can put his impressive skills together at the next level, he'll be a top-pair defenseman.
He’s willing to battle hard in the corners with good physical play and compete. His poise with the puck makes him dangerous with high end skating ability to escape forecheckers. Has the ability to make an impact in all three zones and on every shift. - ISS
[On the power play] he moves the puck around the top of the zone with confidence and poise, and utilizes his vision and creativity when he sees an opportunity to slide down low for a shot. A high-end skater who has exceptional acceleration, he can explode laterally in one step, which makes all the difference- Future Considerations
How would he fit with the Wild?
The Wild have a deep defensive core, but Sergachev would still be a great fit for Minnesota's prospect system. He brings the size and physicality that the Wild lack on their defensive depth chart, but also possesses the mobility the Wild's front office values, and has the potential to contribute on the scoresheet. For all the talk about the Wild needing to acquire an impact forward in this spot, fans should be happy if the Wild call Sergachev's name at the draft.