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Andersson's wish? Another special draft

Thursday, 06.17.2010 / 10:30 AM ET / News
By Mike G. Morreale
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Andersson\'s wish? Another special draft
As the director of European scouting for the Red Wings, Hakan Andersson certainly racks up plenty of frequent-flyer miles.

He certainly made more than his share of flights to Russia this season in attempt to evaluate prospects sure to be in the cross hairs of NHL scouts and general managers at the NHL Entry Draft, June 25-26, at Staples Center in Los Angeles.

"It's time consuming and it varies from year-to-year, but I enjoy it," Andersson told

Especially when Andersson can unearth that diamond in the rough that has become commonplace for an organization that routinely has drafted in the later stages of each round.

"Finding a player I really believe in. That's what gets me excited to this day," Andersson said. "I might have a little less patience these days if there's a game I go to and there's nobody I like. But I still have that drive to find a good prospect, so I have no problem traveling or driving a long way to see a game. If I find a player that I believe in, that gets me excited."

Believe it or not, Detroit's 21st selection in the opening round this year is actually their highest pick since 2005, when they plucked defenseman Jakub Kindl of the Kitchener Rangers at No. 19.

Andersson appears to have this drafting stuff down to a science. The native of Stockholm, Sweden, began scouting for the Wings in 1990 after being recommended to the position by Christer Rockstrom, who was leaving the Wings' organization to work for the New York Rangers with Neil Smith at the time.
Finding a player I really believe in. That's what gets me excited to this day. I might have a little less patience these days if there's a game I go to and there's nobody I like. But I still have that drive to find a good prospect, so I have no problem traveling or driving a long way to see a game. If I find a player that I believe in, that gets me excited. - Hakan Andersson

Over the years, his drafting acumen has been impeccable. Andersson saw untapped potential in Tomas Holmstrom (No. 257 in 1994), Pavel Datsyuk (No. 171, '98), Henrik Zetterberg (No. 210, '99), Niklas Kronwall (No. 29, 2000), Jiri Hudler (No. 58, '02), Valtteri Filppula (No. 95, '02), Jonathan Ericsson (No. 291, '02) and Johan Franzen (No. 97, '04).

Talk about hitting the jackpot.

"Pavel Datsyuk played in a far away place in Russia and there weren't many guys who saw him and, to be honest, the fact we drafted him in the later rounds shows that maybe I didn't even believe in him that much at the time," Andersson admitted. "If I would have known these players were this good, I would have pushed it and said, 'Let's draft them higher.' But I have to give a lot of credit to (vice president/assistant general manager) Jim Nill, (director of amateur scouting) Joe McDonnell and (Wings GM) Ken Holland for giving me the chance to make a pick in the late rounds."

Andersson has no doubt done his homework on many, if not all, of the European standouts sure to mentioned throughout the opening few rounds of the draft. That said, projected Russian dynamos Vladimir Tarasenko, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Kirill Kabanov and Sweden's Calle Jarnkrok may very well all be on the board when the Wings are on the clock in either the first or second round. Finland's Mikael Granlund, the top-rated European according to NHL's Central Scouting, might be long gone by the time No. 21 rolls around, but time will tell.

While nothing will be said publicly, don't think for a second Detroit's scouting crew doesn't have a strong belief on who'll be selected once their pick is up.

"It's certainly not like there's paper notes all over the place," he said. "I've heard that some teams have meetings 10-12 hours a day prior to drafting.  But we settle things quicker than that. I think part of that is the fact our scouting staff has been the same group for years. The majority of us have been together for 10 years. I find that if we're discussing a European player, we'll take a smaller discussion to the table with me, Vladdie (Vladimir Havluj) and either Jim (Nill) or Joe (McDonnell). The three or four of us will work that out and talk about the player. I do know my mind is on the draft 24 hours a day when its coming up."

Then, when Detroit is finally up, the process goes rather quickly.

"Jim Nill and Joe McDonnell make the decisions but just before our pick is coming up, they'll say, 'Hakan, one more time now. We're looking at this guy. What's your gut feeling?' It's nothing big or anything, but basically do I like him or not," Andersson explained.

Still, there are times when an unsuspected move and pick is made, leaving scouts and GMs scratching their heads and scurrying for the next best possible choice for the organization.

Andersson vividly recalls the 2004 draft at RBC Center in Raleigh, N.C.

"Sometimes we go by a list that we put together, but I still remember the year we drafted Johan Franzen (at No. 97)," he said. "The name higher on our list at the time was Alexander Edler. But Vancouver made a trade when they realized we were likely going to take him and since they didn't have a third-round pick. We knew Vancouver was interested in Alex, but we felt pretty safe since they didn't have a third-round pick.

"But then we heard the announcement that a trade was made and I said to Jim Nill, 'This is it, Vancouver is trading for a pick just before us and they're going to take Alex.' So we waited and Vancouver did it. So Jim and I regrouped and said 'OK, what's the next name?' That was Johan Franzen, so we took him."

All in a day's work for Andersson.




1 p - NYR 82 53 22 7 248 187 113
2 y - MTL 82 50 22 10 214 184 110
3 x - TBL 82 50 24 8 259 206 108
4 x - WSH 82 45 26 11 237 199 101
5 x - NYI 82 47 28 7 245 224 101
6 x - DET 82 43 25 14 231 211 100
7 x - OTT 82 43 26 13 232 208 99
8 x - PIT 82 43 27 12 217 204 98
9 BOS 82 41 27 14 209 201 96
10 FLA 82 38 29 15 198 213 91
11 CBJ 82 42 35 5 227 248 89
12 PHI 82 33 31 18 212 223 84
13 NJD 82 32 36 14 176 209 78
14 CAR 82 30 41 11 183 219 71
15 TOR 82 30 44 8 206 257 68
16 BUF 82 23 51 8 153 269 54


H. Zetterberg 77 17 49 -6 66
P. Datsyuk 63 26 39 12 65
T. Tatar 82 29 27 6 56
G. Nyquist 82 27 27 -11 54
J. Abdelkader 71 23 21 3 44
N. Kronwall 80 9 35 -4 44
R. Sheahan 79 13 23 -3 36
D. Helm 75 15 18 7 33
D. DeKeyser 80 2 29 11 31
S. Weiss 52 9 16 -2 25
J. Howard 23 13 11 .910 2.44
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