It’ll be half a decade before the Detroit Red Wings have to make a decision on whether to sign David Pope, but when the time comes, there’s a chance he’ll have emerged as a scoring-line prospect.
The Red Wings selected the 6-foot-2, 187-pound left-winger in the fourth round (109th overall) from the West Kelowna Warriors of the British Columbia Hockey League junior A circuit, landing a prospect who is headed the NCAA route at Nebraska-Omaha starting in 2014-15.
Pope averaged close to a point per game last season with 17 goals and 22 assists for 39 points in 42 games and the Red Wings list his shooting ability is his No. 1 asset.
“He’s got, in my opinion, an NHL shot and release,” said Red Wings scout Jeff Finley. “He’s got a great shot. Hopefully, he’ll be a scorer. He has the shot to be a scorer and he has the natural offensive instincts to be a scorer. He knows where to go, how to find space, and he’s creative.”
Finley said Pope plays an “up-and-down game” and is “good down low and along the walls.” But he also said Pope is extremely slender despite his height and that “a lot of times, he’d just get out-muscled.”
Although Pope was selected in the third round, 42nd overall, by Waterloo of the United States Hockey League, he’s expected to return to Western Kelowna next season, Finley said. From there, it’s off to Nebraska-Omaha, where he can play until 2017-18 before the Red Wings have to sign him.
That gives Pope plenty of time to improve his strength and hone his scoring ability. But even if he doesn’t find the net with as much frequency as hoped, Pope could still be an NHL player.
“He plays enough of a two-way game that if he’s not a scorer, he has the ability to be a third-line type of guy,” Finley said.