The WingsNation 2019 countdown of the Detroit Red Wings’ top 25 prospects rolls along, as today we’re covering the #18 prospect on the list: defenseman Alec Regula.
Alec Regula is a right-shot defenseman who was selected by the Detroit Red Wings in the early third round (67th overall) of the 2018 NHL Entry Draft. He stands 6’4” and weighs 205 lbs., born on August 6, 2000. Regula just completed his second season with the London Knights of the OHL.
Regula has an interesting backstory, being an in-state kid, hailing from Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, and he attended Cranbrook Kingswood School, the famous boarding school you may remember Eminem bashing in Eight Mile. Even more notable, Regula’s dad was the Red Wings Team Dentist for several years, meaning that the young Regula was very familiar with the Wings from an early age, making his draft selection by the Wings something of a storybook sort.
Anyway, onto Regula. He played his D-1 year at age 16 with the USHL’s Chicago Steel in 2016–17 after leaving Cranbrook, scoring 1 goals and 4 assists for 5 points in over 50 games, making him not exactly the hottest offensive attraction on the blue line. Still, his potential as a Very Large Human defender with upside for him offers from NCAA teams, the University of Michigan most notably, but Regula spurned those to go across the Detroit River and play in the OHL with the London Knights, a powerhouse of that league. In his first year at London, Regula scored 7 goals and 18 assists for 25 points, again cementing him as more of a defense-first guy.
But there’s important context here: Regula’s defense partner that season was Evan Bouchard, who was selected in the top 10 of the 2018 Draft by the Oilers, and he may well have been the Red Wings’ pick, had Filip Zadina not fallen down the board. As a result of playing with the offensively minded Bouchard, Regula was forced into a more defensive role. After that season, he was drafted by the Wings and he returned to London this past campaign. Regula no longer was playing with Bouchard but only because the Knights picked up another blue chip defender: Adam Boqvist, who the Red Wings also could’ve picked in that draft. Being on the second pair, Regula was able to do more offensively, even if his minutes were cut, upping his total to 11 goals and 28 assists for 39 points in 66 games played, even playing the net front on the power play thanks to his size.
The first and most notable thing that jumps out in an assessment of Regula’s strengths as a prospect is that he is a big boy. 6’4” defenders do not grow on trees and we saw how the Red Wings valued size in the recent selection of Moritz Seider in the 2019 draft. In fact, when you dig into Regula’s prospect profile, he is in many ways, somewhat of a diet Moritz Seider. Regula is a right-shot, like Seider, is humongous, like Seider, and is generally considered a good skater with a high hockey IQ, like Seider. However, there are some differences. While Seider was seen as the rare defensive rock for an 18 year-old defender, Regula’s defensive game was considered “raw” at the time of the 2018 NHL Draft process, which can be difficult to project when some see him as more of a stay-at-home shut down defender at the next level.
The offensive talent is there, though. He’s got a heavy shot, decent vision and stickhandling, which allows him to move the puck. And due to his ability as both a shooter and a big guy, you can move him all over the zone on the power play, stationing him at the net front like the Bruins have done at times with Zdeno Chara.
Here’s a highlight of his first OHL goal:
As you can see, he possesses that smooth and heavy shot from the right point, which is an asset of his game. Here’s a clip of his skating from his time at Cranbrook, wearing #5 along the near-boards, as he jumps on the rush and provides an assist on a tip in.
While he’s not a burner, or as gifted at skating as Seider is, he’s also not bad at all for a big guy. For most hockey players over 6’2”, skating well can be like pulling teeth (I had to make that pun) and Regula is decently smooth and mobile. Also, I should give a shout out to the blog All About The Jersey for compiling these clips.
Why He’s #18 on the list and Future Projection:
While the Red Wings have a core group of defensive prospects and young players, Dennis Cholowski, Filip Hronek, Moritz Seider, Jared McIsaac, and Gustav Lindstrom at the top, there’s another group of guys below that who all have a shot of being an intriguing everyday player. This group includes 2019 draft picks Antti Tuomisto and Albert Johansson, as well as Regula and fellow 2018 draft pick Seth Barton (2017 third rounder Kasper Kotkansalo as well). Of these selections, I think the Wings would hope to develop maybe one consistent NHLer out of them, and it very well could be Regula. As it stands right now, he’s got close to the best shot out of that group. Regula has yet to post the monster numbers that you like to see to get excited about a prospect (like what Filip Hronek did in his one year in the OHL), but again, context is important and Regula has never been asked to contribute much offensively in his time with London.
That may well change this season, since if I had to guess, the Oilers will probably push Bouchard into the lineup this fall (they tried last fall and failed, returning Bouchard to the OHL), which would allow Regula to slide up to the top pair with Boqvist, assuming he is also still there. All of this said, what Regula has done up to this point is still notable: he’s playing consistent top four minutes on one of the premier teams in the CHL and the only reason he’s not playing more often is because his team was stocked with two top 10 draft picks on the blue line. Also, Regula is an underager, having just turned 19 literally today (happy birthday, young buck), meaning that this upcoming season, his D+2 year, is only his age 19 campaign, whereas it’s the age 20 season for most guys. Thus, Regula has more time to develop and we can be patient with his progression. My guess is that he plays one more season in London before going to Grand Rapids, as he will be eligible to make the CHL to AHL move next summer and then will enter the AHL at 20 years old in fall 2020. From there, he’ll probably play multiple seasons before being ready for the Red Wings, but his intriguing combo of size, versatility on the power play, and two-way game make him someone to keep an eye on in Detroit’s farm system going forward.
Best case scenario: Middle pair NHL defender
Worst case scenario: Career AHL/ECHLer