On June 16, 1990, the NHL converged upon BC Place Stadium in Vancouver for the NHL Entry Draft. The Red Wings’ Bryan Murray was in his first year as coach and GM and was tasked with improving a team that had posted a 28-38-14 the previous season and finished last in the Norris Division
Murray selected Keith Primeau with the third overall selection. The Red Wings had no second-round selection, so Murray’s next pick came in at the top of the third, when he selected Vyacheslav “Slava” Kozlov with the 45th overall pick.
Primeau would become an All-Star. The Kozlov selection would turn into the most productive draft pick in Red Wings history — although Murray had no way of knowing it at the time.
On Thursday Grantland put together a list of the longest MLB transaction trees for each team: What’s the longest back that we could trace a current player’s roster spot? It’s fascinating. Read it and learn how Fernando Rodney eventually yielded the Tigers Robbie Ray and Ian Krol.
In this same spirit (i.e. pirating their idea), I traced the origins of every player to have played one game for the Red Wings this season — except for Andrej Nestrasil because he’s in Carolina now so screw him, amirite?
Click any of the charts to get an enlarged version.
–Seventeen of the 25 players are Red Wings draft picks, including all of their top forwards. Only four of those have come in the first round (Kindl, Kronwall, Sheahan, Smith)
–Both of the second-round picks the Red Wings received when they traded their 2011 first-round pick to Ottawa have yielded players already in the NHL: Tomas Jurco and Xavier Ouellet. Matt Puempel, the player the Senators took with the Red Wings pick, is yet to play in an NHL game.
– Detroit essentially flipped Sebastien Piche and Andrei Vasilevski for Kyle Quincey. Piche is playing Austria, but Vasilevski, 20, could still swing the trade in favor of Tampa Bay. He came into the season the top goalie prospect according to ESPN.
But back to that 1990 draft pick. Kozlov played 607 games and helped win two Stanley Cups for the Red Wings before he, along with a 2002 first-round pick, was traded to Buffalo for Dominik Hasek. (Buffalo later traded the first-round pick to the Blue Jackets who traded it to the Thrashers (R.I.P) who selected Jim Slater). Hasek played 79 games in that stint with the Red Wings (he later returned but that doesn’t count for our purposes) and led Detroit to the Stanley Cup in 2002. In 2004, after retiring and unretiring, Hasek left Detroit for Ottawa in free agency. The Red Wings were awarded a fifth-round pick in compensation. They used it on Darren Helm, who has played 310 games with Detroit and helped them win the Stanley Cup in 2008.
When Helm was three years old, the Red Wings set in motion the series of events that would lead him to Detroit.
Since the Red Wings also sent a first-round pick to Buffalo, let’s halve Hasek and Helm’s production when looking at the impact of that 1990 third-round pick. It still yielded 1.5 solid players, 801.5 games played, a part in three Stanley Cups, and half of a Hall of Famer. The Red Wings might’ve had better draft picks, but there’s none that produced more.
And more than 24 years later, it’s still contributing.