The Detroit Free Press’ Helene St. James sat down with Detroit Red Wings special assistant (to the general manager) Kris Draper and talked scouting and development with the forward who played in Detroit from 1993-2011. The topic ranged from his assessment of the current squad to his optimism about the progress of prospects Dennis Cholowski and Michael Rasmussen. On the current team, Draper was complimentary about their fight, and stopped short of rooting for them to lose to help the team’s draft odds:
Listen, I know they are going to play hard and do everything they can to make the playoffs. They basically want to screw up our draft. Here we are talking about Rasmus Dahlin, a kid that potentially is going to be a franchise defenseman — they don’t care about that. They want to win. But in the end, for us to get better, we have to draft really well and then we have to find some gems.
St. James asked a follow-up question, wondering if the 2004 Selke Trophy winner would admit he was pulling for competitive, one-goal losses, but he wouldn’t bite. Draper works directly for Ken Holland, and he’s certainly a name to watch should Detroit and Holland part ways. Draper scouts both amateur and pro talent and is involved with team strategy according to the team’s site. But his greatest asset is his connection to the past, as the Red Wings have been very loyal to those who have worn the Winged Wheel. It wouldn’t be shocking to see Detroit go to a trusted name if Holland steps away–whether it’s Draper or assistant general manager Ryan Martin. The vast majority of Detroit fans are clamoring for the return of Yzerman–considered one of the best managers in the league and who was blocked by Holland when offered a chance to be the GM. His return seems unlikely, as Yzerman built the Lightning into a powerhouse. If Yzerman returned, he would have to endure an arduous rebuild in Hockeytown, saddled down by many unmovable contracts.
- The Tampa Bay Lightning former captain Vincent Lecavalier’s #4 tonight, Lecavalier was the team’s #1 overall choice in the 1998 NHL draft and played fourteen seasons with the Bolts before being bought out after the 2012-13 season. Lecavalier is still the franchise’s all-time goals leader (383) and still holds the record for most points in a single season (108) back in 2007-08. Lecavalier’s number joins Martin St. Louis’ #26 in the Amalie Arena rafters.
- Buffalo Sabres star Jack Eichel was injured after he fell awkwardly during the first period tonight and did not return. It appeared to be a right ankle or right leg injury. Despite a dreary season in Buffalo, Eichel has 53 points in 54 games (22-31), showing again the immense talent he possesses on a squad struggling to find its way. Though the team is positioned for a top pick in the coming draft, losing Eichel to any significant injury is just another negative to an already tough season for Sabres fans.