With the 2023 NHL Entry Draft fast approaching teams are zeroing in on their draft boards. With a combo of whichever the top three-four picks are pretty set. The draft will get interesting outside of the top four. The Detroit Red Wings currently hold 10 draft picks needing help at center and scoring wing Detroit is in good position to improve the roster. So who could be there at #9 when the Red Wings make their first selection?
A dream scenario would be if C- Dalibor Dvorsky slid to Detroit. I do not think that will happen, still one can not rule it out. After Dvorsky there is a better chance that one of Zach Benson, Oliver Moore and Colby Barlow will be there for the Red Wings to choose from.
LW-Colby Barlow is very good at scoring with 50 goals this past season in the OHL. Barlow has good awareness of body position on the forecheck and has the presence and mindset to always find the open ice. Barlow is developing his game into a solid two-way winger as his defense took a step this past season.
LW- Zach Benson is on the smaller size at 5 foot 10 inches but do not let the fool you, Benson has the skill set to be an effective player. Benson plays hard at all times and is reliable in the defensive end. Totaling 98 points this past season in the WHL.
C- Oliver Moore is a crafty playmaker with good speed. Armed with great agility and acceleration along with his speed makes it difficult for defenders to stay on him. Moore effects all areas of the game.
There will be other players for Red Wings GM, Steve Yzerman to choose from as well. Knowing the roster is void of more consistent scoring I highlighted Barlow, Moore and Benson solely based on need. This is a rare draft in that there is high-end offensive talent through roughly the first 15 picks. Detroit will be able to get a player that will help push the organization back to playoff contention.
Playing in 67 games Jonatan Berggren showed promise for the Detroit Red Wings. Playing a bottom six role, Berggren showed a nice two-way game that gives hope he is a long term solution for that group going forward. Berggren was able to be a capable defender as well as flash some real offensive upside. Now, as for many players heading into their second seasons Berggren must do something that tends to elude young players, avoid the dreaded sophomore slump by finding consistency in his game.
15G, 13A, 28P, -14+/-, 16PIM, 5PPG, 9PPP, 98S, S%15.3 that is Jonatan Berggren’s line from his rookie season. As with some players those numbers do not tell the whole story. Using his speed and being a very good skater allowed Berggren to rarely be out of position at both ends of the ice. Berggren plays with a low center of gravity and was difficult to move off the puck. Primarily playing on Detroit’s third line, Berggren’s energy took that line to another level.
Drafted in the second round (33rd overall) of the 2018 NHL Entry Level Draft, Berggren sign his ELC in 2021 and was assigned to the Grand Rapids Griffins. Playing in 70 games for the Griffins, Berggren put up respectable numbers; 70G, 21G, 43A, 64P, 16PMI, -14+/-. Berggren would appear in seven games in Grand Rapids to start the season and was called up to Detroit.
Now that the rest of the league has seen him, Berggren will need to make adjustments to his game to insure that he is not going to become stagnant. That is the crux that young players face in striving to take their game to the next level. Berggren feels like a player with more to give.
For the nearly rebuilt Detroit Red Wings, Jonatan Berggren is a pivotal player in that he is young and skilled and can be a difference maker for the Detroit third line. Grouped with C- Joe Veleno and RW-Matt Luff the trio combined for 26 goals. Berggren looks to be the scoring wing consistently which will help Detroit going forward.
For a player like Jonatan Berggren who has more to give, his second season will be big. If he elevates his game the Red Wings will be in good shape.
Sports and sports fans love a good redemption story, even if the story is uneasy at first. For the Columbus Blue Jackets who are searching for the organization’s next head coach the team has been tight lipped thus far on just who is on the list and who they have and have not spoken to. A few name have been released, associate coach Pascal Vincent who joined Columbus in 2021, former Washington Capitals head coach Peter Laviolette, and former Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock are said to have interviewed and/or talked to the Blue Jackets front office. One name not mentioned but perhaps should be is former Florida Panthers head coach Joel Quenneville.
Of the names mentioned, Pascal Vincent is the least likely to ruffle any feathers of emotion. Peter Laviolette is said to be a demanding coach along the lines of former Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella. Mike Babcock does not sit well for many as it has been well documented that Babcock has faced accusations of mistreatment of players.
The real question mark is Joel Quenneville who would qualify as a redemption story but is at the mercy of NHL commissioner Gary Bettman. Quenneville, while coach of the Chicago Blackhawks was accused of a sexual abuse coverup. The allegations forced Quenneville to step down as coach of the Florida Panthers and he went before Bettman to discuss his involvement and must meet with the commissioner once again before he would be allowed to coach.
While it is unclear exactly who the Blue Jackets have and are talking to it seems a bit of a stretch that the organization would hire either Babcock or Quenneville. Both would be hard sells for both players and fans. Both coaches have won big in the NHL but that alone can not be reason to hire them.
The Columbus Blue Jackets front office is taking the right approach. The organization must get the hire right. With young players such as Kent Johnson, Kirill Marchenko and others any new coach is going to need to have developmental skills as well as managing veterans. This is a bit tricky to get right but a balanced coach is important to the now and future of the Blue Jackets.
The Detroit Red Wings were in the playoff hunt much of the season, the organization fell a little short and now are at a sort of crossroads. Ranked by many to have a top five prospect pool the Red Wings are in good shape regardless if GM Steve Yzerman decides to stock up for a playoff run or simply give prospects more AHL development time. The guess is Yzerman will add players.
The Red Wings need a few of key components in order to take a step towards being a playoff contending team. Scoring, goaltending, defense to be more specific a more reliable backup to starting goalie Ville Husso as the perceived goalie of the future, Sebastian Cossa is still developing. With some big names set to hit the free agent market, Yzerman will have little issue finding a backup goalie.
With some big names set to hit the open market, the Red Wings should have enough choices to improve scoring. At 240 GF and 279 GA for a -39 DIFF, the Red Wings need more scoring and better defense. Both D-William Wallinder and D-Albert Johansson are ranked #3 and #4 currently in the Red Wings prospect rankings. Yzerman could and perhaps should look at add a veteran or two in order to get better production out of the blueline.
It seems that the #2 ranked prospect C- Marco Kasper will get a longer look in training camp he is far from a lock to make the opening night roster. The Red Wings have a long history of wanting o give prospects plenty of development time. Kasper was called up at the end of the season but was limited due to a broken kneecap.
In the end the Detroit Red Wings are closer to the NHL Playoffs, there is still much work to be done. The guess is that Steve Yzerman will make upgrades this summer in order to give his team a push while giving prospects both a long look during training camp and more development time.
I am not going to rehash the 2022-’23 Columbus Blue Jackets season. That does no one any good. The organization is forward thinking and looking and fans should be as well. Depending who you read the Blue Jackets have a top five prospect pool and are set to add to that pool this summer at the 2023 NHL Draft. The fact is many publications have the Minnesota Wild and Columbus Blue Jackets as the top two in terms of prospects.
“We want to get back into the playoffs,” Blue Jackets GM, Jarmo Kekalainen said at his end of the season press conference. The reality is the organization is not that far away from playoff contention once again. No really. One thing I will mention about last season is the team and franchise record 563 man lost games due to injuries. Not one Blue Jackets player was able to play in all 82 games.
Kekalaien also stated he wants to bring in a veteran or two as well; as the Blue Jackets were once again one of the youngest teams in the NHL. The team is sure to have a rookie or two on the roster next season. Top prospect D- David Jiricek had a monster first AHL season for the Cleveland Monsters. Jiricek is expected to compete and possibly earn a roster spot during training camp and will be given every opportunity to do so.
Yes the organization needs and has needed a top line center (1C) for some time. This week team president John Davidson said the team is going to get a center in the draft. The Blue Jackets select #3 overall and should have plenty of good centers to choose from. Also the expectation is that C- Cole Sillinger will get back on track and have a rebound season after a wicked sophomore slump which will help strengthen the centers.
While there is still work to do and young players are still developing the cupboard is far from empty. In other words, while it is unknow how the team will perform both on ice and in the standings this coming season a healthy roster armed with stronger center play will go a long way in getting the organization closer to where they want to be.
No the NHL Draft Lottery is not rigged nor has the sky fallen in the world of the Columbus Blue Jackets. Sure Connor Bedard would have been nice or Adam Fantilli at #2 overall. With the top five draft picks as good as this years there is honestly not a lot that separates the players. Bedard is indeed otherworldly, as for the rest it really depends on the need or needs of an organization. For the Columbus Blue Jackets #3 is just fine.
Unless you live under a shoe, you know the Blue Jackets have needed a top line center for well, it’s been ongoing for years. With Bedard and Fantilli (both centers) expected to go one-two in this years draft that leaves the Blue Jackets to pick the organizations top line center at long last. But who?
LeoCarlsson, Carlsson has the tools to be an elite top line center. Widely viewed as the best skater in this years draft Carlsson’s great foot work allows him to show off a good blend of speed for his size (6′ 3″.) Carlsson is a true playmaker in the offensive zone. Carlsson is not a shoot first center he looks to set up teammates, although his shot is really good. The young Swedish Carlsson is just as good in the defensive end his transitional play is excellent he has taken a big step and is close to putting it all together. Carlsson would be a great pick if that is who the Blue Jackets want.
Will Smith, Compared to Leo Carlsson, Will Smith is a bit (just a bit) of a work in progress. Smith is a good skater without a burst in his stride to break away. In the offensive zone Smith shines. Phenomenal hands, above average vision and stick handling coupled with a deadly shot. Smith is not very good in the defensive zone and will need time to develop. He is a work in progress and in the right system, Smith can be a very good player in time.
Matvie Michkov, A very strong skater with alright speed. Blessed with strong acceleration and superb edge works. One of the very best shots in this years draft Michkov’s accuracy, power and his quick release will be welcomed by who ever drafts him. Not strong in the defensive end, Michkov who is under contract for three more years in the KHL, will need to begin to apply himself in the defensive zone. If he does that, he has the makings of a very good player.
The Columbus Blue Jackets seem likely to draft a center this year. They need an impactful player and one that is close to being NHL ready as the teams window is soon to be open.
For those of us who love to track MLB prospects and minor league system rankings two sites stand out above the rest, Baseball America (subscription needed) and MLB Pipeline. Honestly, you can not go wrong with either site. Both sites have the Cincinnati Reds minor league system ranked #5. The Reds future is indeed bright. So why should fans be excited? The talent is undeniable, while the Reds have stockpiled an bunch of middle infielders that will sort itself out. Here is a look at why now is the time to jump on the Reds bandwagon.
For starters the Reds who last season were ranked the #4 prospect pipeline had two pitchers ranked in the teams top 30 graduate to the big leagues, Hunter Greene and Nick Lodolo and the pipeline only fell one spot. That should tell you something about the organization.
SS-Elly De La Cruz, oh my goodness, what a prospect! The 6′ 5″ switch hitting prospect 5-tool player is to drool over. Hitting is way above average, power is a plus tool, his speed is a plus-plus (you read that correctly.) Despite being 6’5″ and playing a critical position De La Cruz can pick it with the best of them in the field, his arm is elite, his arrival in the Queen City should not take long.
The Reds who are in a rebuild sped up the process a bit last season when they traded pitcher Luis Castillo and received three 30 prospects with No.2 prospect SS/3B- Noelvi Marte and No. 3 SS/2B- Edwin Arroyo being the gems of the trade. In trading pitcher, Tyler Mahle added to the Reds top 10 prospects when they received 3B- Spencer Steer.
The Reds have nine players in the organizations top 30 prospects that have come via trade. That is how you rebuild smartly. The entire top five and eight of the top 10 are all infielders and nine of which list SS as their primary position some of those players are and have been shifted this season with their minor league teams to different positions, regardless it is a good problem to have.
The Cincinnati Reds future is very bright. Just a bit more seasoning is needed but the wait will be worth it.
The Detroit Lions are a better football team at this moment. The team has been able to add both playmakers as well as depth and not only depth but quality depth. Finally able to draft “the best player available,” has added to the teams push to being a contending football team. Lions GM, Brad Holmes has done very well this draft. Let’s take a look at the 2023 Detroit Lions Draft class a little more closely.
RB, Jahmyr Gibbs from the University of Alabama, Drafted #12 overall; the Lions got themselves a playmaker. On paper Gibbs is the first exciting player in Motown since Barry Sanders, Gibbs has excellent acceleration and top speed and a threat to score any and every time he touches the football. Elite burst, Very good change of direction and solid pass blocker.
Below average strength and is tackled upon first contact needs to get stronger up top. Gibbs footwork between the tackles is too choppy at times and hesitant which leads to a loss in momentum. The Lions would be wise to allow Gibbs to get to the edge and let him turn up field.
LB, Jack Campbell from the University of Iowa, Drafted #18 overall; The Lions drafted a linebacker who is a ballhawk. Very quick to diagnose zone versus gap runs, quick to fill his gap on the front side of gap runs, Physical and strong at the point of attack and wraps the runner very well.
Campbell has been known to get caught out of position against motion, at times he blocks square and is prone to stop his feet on contact, Subpar change of direction is an issue in man coverage.
TE, Sam LaPorta from the University of Iowa, Drafted #34 overall; Fights for extra yards after the catch, Laporta is an excellent athlete, he is a smooth route runner who fights for yards.
Continuing to evolve as an in line option, not necessarily a ball-winner all the time he needs to clean that up an begin to fight for the ball more. Laporta is undersized for TE at 6′ 3″, but that allows him to lineup outside at times which gives the offense a different dimension.
S, Brian Branch from the University of Alabama, Drafted #45 overall; Branch is a hybrid defender, he has top notch recognition and trigger and reads the play well, uses good angles to the ball, very smooth backpedal.
Lacks the top speed for safety, poor timing at time at the catchpoint, marginal ball skills. Could be developed into a slot corner.
QB, Hendon Hooker from the University of Tennessee, Drafted #68 overall; Good touch and timing on deep throws is his bread and butter also when throwing a in-breaking route, refined passer, not really turnover prone, can add to the running game when fully healthy.
Coming off season ending knee surgery due to a torn ACL, Hooker is an older prospect (25 years old), struggles to navigate pocket against pressure so he must be quicker to understand.
DL, Brodric Martin from the University of Western Kentucky, Drafted #96 overall; playing mostly nose tackle he is close to being immovable, gets full extension and sheds blocks, Martin has pass rush potential but lacks consistency he excels at knocking passes down.
Not very explosive or nimble, Martin tends to stand up a big when he wears down, still developing a pass rush plan. Martin needs to be conditioned and must become a threat on the pass rush.
Brad Holmes does not care about Mock Drafts. If you live and die by the Mock then this news probably irritates you to some degree. Myself a well known loather of Mock Drafts found it refreshing when the Detroit Lions GM said, “There’s a lot of information that I don’t expect the people that are putting out the mock drafts to know, and it’s not their fault. They’re not in the medical meetings. I look at them, I respect them, but it’s not always going to be right. And then you’ve got to make the best pick that you can and be confident with it. Post-Draft and immediate Draft grades, when the pick didn’t line up with those mocks, you’ve got to be willing and comfortable to take the thrashing because they didn’t line up with the mock. It’s all good.”
Brad Holmes only cares about one thing…….. getting the right fit for his football team. Positional Value be damned. There were very loud audible gasps and groans when RB, Jahmyr Gibbs from the University of Alabama was announced as the Detroit Lions first, first round draft pick at #12 due to a trade back. The Lions picked again at #18 and selected Iowa Hawkeyes LB, Jack Campbell.
NFL and draft experts were harsh on the picks. Yet, now that the smoke has cleared the picks make sense for what the Lions have built under Holmes and head coach Dan Campbell. High energy, high character players who make impacts. That is what Gibbs and Campbell give Detroit right off the bat.
Last night on Day 2 of the 2023 NFL Draft, Holmes really brough the Lions closer to being a serious playoff team this upcoming season. Drafting Iowa Hawkeyes TE, Sam Laporta, Alabama Crimson Tide S, Brian Branch, Tennessee Volunteers QB, Hendon Hooker and Western Kentucky DT, Brodric Martin.
Brad Holmes has done it again. No matter if you like positional value which most prefer, Holmes selected best players for his team. This is a spot the Detroit Lions have not been in, in well a very long time. The organization was able to select “the best player available.” Holmes did and then in meeting with the media stood his ground. The Detroit Lions are a better football team today for his work.
The 2023 Columbus Blue Jackets defensive unit started off on shaky ground. Switching to a man-to-man scheme it was an adjustment to say the least. About three weeks into the season some players began to catch on, and then the injuries started. Losing perhaps the teams most important player Zach Werenski was a massive blow. Jake Bean who looked much better was also lost for the season. The Blue Jackets pipeline is chalked with solid defensemen who figure to be mainstays in Columbus once the “reset” is complete. So what could future pairings look like? Let’s take a look.
First and foremost go ahead and pen (or sharpie) Werenski on the top line. A very brief pairing (due to injury) with Adam Boqvist looked like it would be a solid pairing. The two should get another look to see if they can reclaim the chemistry they briefly showed.
Again being future pairings based on ability and projection and players that could compliment each other, I have Corson Ceulemans and Blue Jackets top prospect, David Jiricek on the second line. Jiricek who projects by well, just about everyone as a top line defensemen would give excellent depth on the second line.
The third line pairing, could be Stanislav Svozil, who had two very solid games at the end of the season in Columbus (and a prospect I am very high on for whatever that’s worth) and Dento Mateychuck, two shutdown style defensive players who have some offensive upside.
While it seems that Jiricek is almost or next to a lock to make the Columbus roster out of training camp, it will be interesting to see where the likes of Mateychuck, Svozil and Ceulemans are placed. The Cleveland Monsters seems likely. Regardless, all of the Blue Jackets top defensive prospects should get a look in Columbus at some point next season.
I do have Jake Bean still on the roster as he really did take a big step forward in his shortened season. There is a reason to be excited for fans. It will take a little while but it will be worth the wait once the prospects are in Columbus full time. Again this is only a guess post “reset.”