I have to question the conventional wisdom that Detroit’s success is due to “drafting well.”
For instance, if Ken Holland and much-praised director of scouting Hakan Andersson were truly clairvoyant enough to know how great Pavel Datsyuk (Pick No. 171, 6th round, 1998) would turn out, why would they have picked Jiri Fischer, Ryan Barnes, Tomek Valtonen, Jake McCracken, Brent Hobday, Calle Steen and Adam Deleeuw ahead of him?
So, was it just dumb luck that got them the Datsyuk pick? That’s not really the right question. We need to realize that there are plenty of players in the late rounds of every draft with great hidden, unrealized potential.
What makes most teams different from the Wings is that their “diamond in the rough” picks never reach that potential.
The real heroes behind Detroit’s success are not the scouts so much as the player development people who get so many of the Wings later picks to realize the potential that no one, not even Hakan Andersson, knew they had.
Bart Wentink, Houston, Texas