DALLAS, Tx. – After finishing 33-36-13 during the 2016-17 season, the Detroit Red Wings were rewarded the sixth overall pick in the 2018 NHL Draft.
The first round of the draft was Friday night in Dallas, and the Red Wings didn't waste much time taking their guy -- who ended up falling to them, according to GM Ken Holland.
Holland and the Red Wings selected 18-year-old wing Filip Zadina out of the Czech Republic.
Zadina is 6-foot and 190 pounds. This past season, he led all rookies in goals (44) and points (82) in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League for the Halifax Mooseheads. He also won the Michael Bossy Trophy -- awarded to the top professional prospect in the QMJHL.
"Zadina at six for us was a little bit of a shock," said Tyler Wright, Detroit's director of amateur scouting, to NHL.com. "You never know what the true answer is of what teams are trying to move up and get, but there was such a good cluster of D. We talked about it, whether it was (Evan) Bouchard, (Noah) Dobson, (Adam) Boqvist, (Quinn) Hughes. It was kind of the theme. We kind of thought we might be targeting one of those guys but obviously when Zadina fell to us there wasn't much dialogue."
The Wings also selected center Joseph Veleno with the 30th pick in the first round. Veleno is an 18-year-old Canadian who played for the Drummondville Voltigeurs of the QMJHL.
"We had him extremely high on the board," Wright said. "We wanted to target centers as well. He's captain of Team Canada at Ivan Hlinka, he's captain of the under-18 World Championship team. Special exemption in the Quebec Major Junior League as a 15-year-old, came in. I don't want to do a lot of comparisons but he skates a lot like Dylan Larkin, he plays the game kind of like Dylan Larkin. We were worried a little bit about Larkin's creativity in his draft year when you really try to pick these guys apart. Obviously, Dylan has answered a lot of those questions for us."
Veleno put up 48 points (16 goals, 32 assists) in 33 regular season games. He also put up 11 points (5 goals, 6 assists) in 10 playoff games.
The Wings still need to bolster their defense. They were expected to take a defenseman with the sixth pick, as shown in most mock drafts leading up to Friday, but opted to select Zadina since he was surprisingly available.