Detroit — Red Wings fans who strolled from the barbecue or lawn chair Monday had another chance to gaze at the Red Wings’ future.
Moritz Seider was playing for Germany in the world championships against Team USA — and didn’t look out of place as a 20-year-old defenseman.
Team USA won the game 2-0 — which included a scary moment for former Red Wing Justin Abdelkader, who suffered an apparent knee injury — but Seider did all his could with three shots on net in 16 minutes 33 seconds (second among German defensemen) and playing with poise all over the ice, on both specialty teams.
One more reason to be excited about the upcoming Wings’ season.
“He’s got a lot of work to do, but there’s a lot of potential for him,” said general manager Steve Yzerman, during Yzerman’s season-ending media session. “We’re excited to have him here next year. Our hope is he’s ready to play for the Red Wings at the start of the season.”
Seider entered these world championships having completed a superb season in the Swedish Hockey League.
Back in October, with no clear start date for either the NHL or American League, the Wings loaned Seider to Rogle in the SHL.
The move was made to keep Seider playing, and to aid his transition to professional hockey.
Seider never missed a beat, earning 28 points (seven goals, 21 assists) in 41 games and leading Rogle to the league finals before getting upset.
Seider was named the best defenseman in the league at the end of the SEL season.
“It’s a huge step from the American League or the Swedish League to the National Hockey League, but he probably exceeded our expectations last year going into the American League,” Yzerman said. “I’m not surprised he did well in the Swedish League.
“He’s got a great head on his shoulders, he’s got good hockey sense. He’s very competitive. He’s got size, his skills are good.”
When the Wings selected Seider sixth overall in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft, there was mild surprise in that some analysts felt Yzerman had over-reached.
Seider, generally, was expected to be selected somewhere in the 15-25 range.
But if that same draft were to be held again, there’s a good chance Seider might be near the very top.
Craig Button, TSN’s draft analyst, currently has Seider as the No. 1 prospect — Wings’ 2020 first-round pick Lucas Raymond is third — in his top 75 NHL-affiliated prospects ranking.
Seider was 25th on Button’s list last year.
“(Seider) has elevated his play to the next level with his size, physicality, puckhandling and offensive skill,” Button said. “He has the makings of a future No. 1 defenseman.”
Seider showed glimpses of his potential last season while playing in the Wings’ minor league affiliate Grand Rapids.
After a brief adjustment period, Seider came on strongly and had 22 points (20 assists) in 49 games before the pandemic ended the AHL season.
Coach Jeff Blashill monitored Seider’s progress in Grand Rapids, and watched Seider as much as possible in the SHL.
Blashill is excited to see where Seider stands among the Wings’ defenseman next training camp.
“It’s always exciting to see where guys are at and the development they’ve shown,” Blashill said. “ I’ll watch Mo even more throughout the course of the summer and have a bit of a feel.
“He’s going to face challenges here that he didn’t face in the American League, or didn’t face in Sweden. How he responds to those challenges will dictate how quickly he’ll have success here (in the NHL).”
Wings fans have been salivating at the thought of putting Seider in an NHL uniform — there was a good chance Seider was going to get an NHL look before the pandemic closed things down — and likely will get that opportunity next season.
But Yzerman feels it’s important to tone down everyone’s immediate expectations, regarding both Seider and Raymond, who could be the centerpieces of the rebuild.
“I want to temper the enthusiasm or the excitement,” Yzerman said. “He’s (Seider) a great young player; his next move is to the NHL. We’ll see how training camp, the preseason goes.
“I want them to make the team and have a positive impact. Our expectation and our hope is that Moritz is ready to go. We’ll see that next fall. Lucas, I don’t want to rule it out, but we’ll let the situation play itself out and if they prove they’re ready to go they’ll be on the team.
“I’m not going to force it or rush it. We have high expectations for them. Is it next season or the season after? I’m not sure. We’d love them to play, but they’re going to need to earn it.”
Wings forward Dylan Larkin admitted to following Seider’s progress in Sweden this season, and is excited for training camp.
As are most Red Wings fans.
“I saw him play in training camp last year, and he has that quiet confidence about him,” Larkin said. “As a young player coming into the league, it’s huge to have that. It’s huge to believe in yourself, not in an arrogant way, but to believe and know that you can come in and help a team.
“We are all hoping he can come in and do that.”
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