Jim Nill's impact in Detroit, future in Dallas

Updated: April 30, 2013, 12:13 PM ET
By Craig Custance

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Jim Nill is one of those guys with encyclopedia-like knowledge of every prospect playing hockey across the globe. He's the guy, if you spot him at a junior game or some international tournament, you engage in conversation just to tap into his knowledge. Maybe learn a thing or two to make you sound smart down the road.

Because if Nill likes a player, chances are he's going to pan out.

"He's got tremendous gut instincts," Red Wings GM Ken Holland said when I was compiling the annual list of assistant GMs ready for a promotion. Nill was No. 1.

He'd been running the Red Wings' draft for so long, even he couldn't pin down exactly how long in his introductory press conference in Dallas.

"I've been very fortunate in my position in Detroit to run the amateur draft for the last 15 to 18 years," he said.

And he's been able to help build a team that never misses the playoffs. The last time the Red Wings missed the playoffs, he was playing for them, not managing.