Around the Rink: NHL Draft Edition


Detroit’s top two draft picks pose for the media

Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images

Over a two-day period, the Detroit Red Wings selected seven prospects to compose their 2009 draft class. Hockeytown Blog has a recap of who and when Detroit drafted over the weekend with more information on the Red Wings’ prospects to come over the next couple of weeks.

Landon Ferraro — Second Round (32nd overall)

After sitting through a stressful first round on Friday evening, Landon went back to the hotel disappointed that he was not selected on the first day. That disappointment all but left when the Red Wings announced him as their first overall pick shortly into day two of the draft. Landon is the son of former NHLer and current TSN analyst Ray Ferraro, who posted 898 points in the NHL and a record 108 goals in the WHL. Landon’s father described his emotions at seeing his son drafted to TSN:

When I write those words, I still have tears in my eyes. The disappointment of 12 hours earlier washed away in an instant. When I saw my son on the draft floor in that beautiful Red Wings sweater, I don’t think I can convey my pride. I thought of my dad, who was so proud of my career, and how proud he would be of his grandson. The countless hours of practice, hard work, disappointment and fun that had gone into this moment.  It was just an unbelievable day to see my son drafted by such a terrific organization.

At 5-11 and weighing 165 pounds, Landon has a smaller frame than many of his fellow draftees. But thanks to the Wings depth, the team can allow Landon to develop both in skill and size over the next few years without rushing him into action before he’s ready. So if size wasn’t the attraction for Detroit’s management, what did they like about the center? Not only does he have great hockey sense (in part from being around the game all his life), but Landon can skate and likes to go on the forecheck and to the front of the net.

“You like the bloodlines,” said Jim Nill, the Red Wings’ assistant general manager, who runs the draft for the organization. “He’s been around the game every day and he knows what it takes. He has high-end skills and he plays the game hard.”

Nill talked with Ferraro’s coach Jesse Wallin, who once was a first round pick for the Wings and later made the roster as a defenseman, and his coach’s words gave Detroit’s management confidence in their choice.

Tomas Tatar — Second Round (60th overall)

Tatar really came on the radar for NHL scouts and fans at the World Junior Championships when he recorded seven goals and four helpers in seven games for Slovakia, ranking fourth among all the players in the tournament. Some scouts were put off by Tatar because they felt his performance at the WJC was just a fluke. However the Wings watched him play with his team, HKM Zvolen, and felt comfortable that his performance wasn’t just a one-time event.

“World Juniors is where he got noticed and then we went over to Europe and watched him a lot,” Nill said. “I saw him play in a Slovak men’s league and he was very good over there. Didn’t look out of place playing with men.”

Tatar has a strong shot, a nose for finding the open net, and is already a decent two-way player at center. You can watch some of his impressive goals by watching this clip on YouTube. Plus, he has been a lifelong fan of the Red Wings.

Andrej Nestrasil and Gleason Fournier — Third Round (75th and 90th overall respectively)

Nestrasil is the biggest of Detroit’s first three picks, coming in at 6-2 and 200 pounds. He’s a fast skater and adjusted well to North American hockey in his first year (22 G, 35 A). You could classify him as a power forward as his big body allows him to better protect the puck and he’s harder to get him off the puck (think Johan Franzen).

Fournier was the first defenseman drafted by the Red Wings this year. He’s known for his ability to quarterback the power play and can really skate, both of which fit perfectly in Detroit’s puck possession style of play. He is definitely an offensive defenseman so he’ll have to work on playing better in the defensive zone and without being afraid to play physical.

Nick Jensen — Fifth Round (120th overall)

A phone call from the Red Wings on Saturday informed Jensen that he had been drafted. The defenseman has been a late bloomer, but Detroit will have five years to watch him develop before they have to decide if he’ll fit with the Wings’ organization. Until then, he’ll continue to play for the Green Bay Gamblers in the USHL next season before heading to St. Cloud State University where he’ll spend four years getting experience and a degree. Jensen led the USHL with a +34 rating and sounds like he plays a strong defensive-minded game.

Mitchell Callahan — Sixth Round (150th overall)

The 5-11, 175-lb right winger plays with a lot of energy, becoming a crowd favorite with his physical style of play and aptitude for fighting. He leads the WHL in fights with 20 in the last season alone. Assistant GM Jim Nill describes him as a “tank.” According to AM 1150, Callahan plays with no fear and is willing to “go through the wall for his teammates.” He is rough around the edges and has plenty of improving to do, but he’s certainly a team player. The Wings drafted him because they don’t really have that type of player in their pipeline.

“He’s a little ball of trouble,” Nill said of Callahan, who was unranked by NHL Central Scouting. “Every time he’s on the ice something happens. He’s fearless. We don’t have a lot of that in our organization and we hope he turns into a Sean Avery-type, a real instigator type.”

Adam Almqvist — Seventh Round (210th overall)

Almqvist was Detroit’s only Swedish draft pick this year and has a lot of work ahead of him to reach the NHL. He’s small (5-10, 165 lbs) and needs to work on his skating, but he has a few qualities that make sense with the Wings’ style of play. Almqvist is an offensive defenseman, who excels as the PP quarterback, likes to make the breakout pass, and has a good shot.

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