Looking for Life in the Red Wings
It’s been another long and hard season for Detroit. Despite their less than spectacular results since being moved from the Western Conference to the Eastern in 2013/14, the Red Wings haven’t had a Number 1 pick since 1986. 2020 will be no different. While 4th pick is still good, it’s a blow to morale. Fans need something to look forward to, so here’s a quick overview of prospects coming up the pipeline.
Rasmussen, C, 2017, Round 1, #9
Michael Rasmussen is a huge (6’6”) centerman who has already spent 62 games in the NHL. While in Detroit, he notched 18 points. He utilizes his size to his advantage and to aid his team by screening the goaltender and looking for deflections. He had a slow season in the AHL this season, but a sophomore slump is nothing new. Hopefully, he’s able to bounce back and produce even more next year.
Veleno, 2018, C, Round 1, #30
Joe Veleno is an excitable two-way center. Though he hasn’t played a single second in the NHL, he shows a lot of potential in the AHL. He’s quick, sharp, and unselfish. He’s more likely to pass the puck but is fully capable of scoring. He still has some maturing to do, so it may be another year or two before he moves up.
Svechnikov, LW/RW, 2015, Round 1, #19
Evgeny Svechnikov was not as quick to adapt to the NHL as his brother Andrei in Carolina. However, he has glimpses of similar talent. After 4 years in the US, he hasn’t quite developed as well as many hoped, but that doesn’t mean things can’t change. To get him over that hurdle to get into the NHL, he’ll need to round out his game a little more. The one hitch for fans holding out hope for him is that his contract expires this year. It will be up to the front office to decide if he’s worth keeping or if it’s his time to move on.
Zadina, LW/RW, 2018, Round 1, #6
Filip Zadina is an exciting one for me. He split his time this season between Detroit and Grand Rapids, averaging just under a point per game in both leagues. He plays a well-rounded game, has a good head on his shoulders, and is always looking to be useful. It wouldn’t surprise me at all to see him on the 4th or even 3rd line in Detroit this coming year.
Seider, D, 2019, Round 1, #6
Moritz Seider has proven himself to be a smart and skilled defenseman. While still adjusting to the change from German hockey to North American, his debut season in the AHL indicates that he’ll be fighting his way into the lineup in a few years. Not only are his defensive skills improving, but he’s also a playmaker and can score goals. He’s only 19, as well, so he has plenty of time to develop his skills even further.
Tuomisto, D, 2019, Round 2, #35
Antti Tuomisto is a little harder to judge than the others above because he hasn’t played any games in the US, only in Finland and in international games. But, based on his numbers from Finnish leagues, he’s just about ready to move on from the junior leagues. He’s averaging just over a point per game as a defenseman, and 23 points total in his international career. Provided the adjustment to North America is smooth, Tuomisto could be a welcome addition to the roster.
Söderblom, RW/C, 2019, Round 6, #159
Elmer Söderblom is another massive (6’7”) winger in the pipeline. He’s spent his whole playing career in Sweden and it seems to me he is a tuna in a pond there. Last season, he averaged almost 1.5 points per game in the top tier Swedish junior league. He’s been noted to have good hands for his size and is not afraid to literally throw his weight around. He’s set to play in the Swedish Hockey League, but hopefully, he’ll transfer over here sooner rather than later to help him adjust.
It seems like a given that the first 3 picks will be Lafreniere, Stuetzle, and Byfield, though maybe not in that particular order. So where does that leave Detroit? I don’t have any insight into the front office, so I can’t say who they’re looking at. But, I can tell you who I would pick.
Marco Rossi. He’s a slick center from Austria, ranked 4th in most lists. He’s not very big, only 5’9”, but has proven to be skilled enough to score 185 points in 2 seasons in the OHL, 65 in 2018/19, 120 in 2019/20. He’s second in average points per game in the OHL to Connor McDavid, at 2.14. He’s a treat to watch and I would pick him in a heartbeat.
Jamie Drysdale. He’s fairly small as well, at only 5’11”. While his stats aren’t as impressive, Drysdale isn’t one to be overlooked. He’s just under a point per game, probably due to his sharp passing. He’s quick on his feet, as well, both physically and mentally.
Cole Perfetti. A 5’10” centerman on an upward trajectory. He may not be the fastest guy on the ice, but he clearly knows how to move the puck effectively enough to make waves. He’s 7th on the average point per game rankings for the OHL, 3rd of the 2020 draft class, with just under 2 points per game. Perfetti will need a little more fine-tuning before he would be a threat in the NHL, but definitely worthy of a top 10 pick.
Jack Quinn. A winger, also 5’11”. Over a point per game, he’s one of the only two players to hit 50 goals this season in the OHL. He gave his team 7 points in last year’s playoffs as the 67’s sailed easily to the finals. He seems to have a cool head and good timing and pace. While perhaps maybe more suited for a pick slightly lower than 4th, Quinn deserves a look.
In addition to all of the potential first-round choices, it’s also worth noting that Detroit has 3 2nd round picks and 2 4th round picks. Plenty of talented NHL players come from those rounds.
A Long Haul
While there are glimmers of hope all over the organization, it may still be a while before Detroit can turn their ship around. The good news is that Larkin still has 3 years left in his contract, Bertuzzi is only an RFA and will likely stay with the team, and Anthony Mantha was having a bounce-back season from the last. It’s going to be difficult to watch at times, but if the Capitals can go 44 years without a cup, the Red Wings can wait a little longer.
-Heidi Thomas (@DamselOnDrums)