The Detroit Red Wings rebuild under GM Steve Yzerman is in full swing. The team had a monster 2020 draft with 12 total selections including four in the top 60 – the fourth overall and three second-round picks.
The bounties from that draft are well represented in these rankings as the Red Wings have a very deep prospect pool developing. The position with the most depth is defense, headed by future Norris Trophy winner Moritz Seider, who could be this year’s Calder Trophy winner. Seider is just the tip of the iceberg as the Wings depth on the blueline runs deep with Simon Edvinsson, William Wallinder, Shai Buium, on the horizon. While the Wings may not have as good a future top pairing as either Buffalo or Colorado can boast, their overall blue line depth is elite.
The Wings active roster is young with plenty of under 25-year-old players to build with including Filip Zadina, Michael Rasmussen, Dylan Larkin, Pius Suter, Filip Hronek, and Alex Nedeljkovic to name a few.
The Wings may not be ready to compete as a Stanley Cup contender, but the building blocks are in place with key prospects Moritz Seider and Lucas Raymond having already made this team and are the early favorites for the Calder Trophy as the NHL’s top rookie. The emergence of these two Calder candidates signals the ending of the painful rebuild era and the dawn of a new era in Hockey Town.
2021-22 Top 10 Detroit Red Wings Prospects
- Moritz Seider, D – Detroit Red Wings (NHL)
Drafted: 2019 round one, sixth overall by Detroit Red Wings
The big German defender has simply dominated at every level he has played in. His recent success includes a DEL Championship in 2019 as Rookie of the Year, 22 points in 49 AHL games as a rookie in 2020, SHL and World Championship Best Defenseman Awards in 2021, and NHL Rookie of the Month for October.
Seider will be a franchise defenseman for the wings for a long time. He has size and strength which he uses very effectively. He plays a physically aggressive and impactful game while not staying within the rules and not taking bad penalties. His defensive game is excellent as he uses his size to separate players from pucks, his skating and mobility to take away time and space.
Perhaps his greatest asset is his smarts or hockey sense. He reads plays well to anticipate passes, positions himself well to break down rush attacks and protect the house. Offensively he has a high skill set. He makes good quick decisions to move the puck, is a crisp passer, and supports the puck well. He has all the tools to be a franchise number one defenseman and his era in Detroit is just beginning.
- Lucas Raymond, LW – Detroit Red Wings (NHL)
Drafted: 2020 round one, fourth overall by Detroit Red Wings
Raymond is a dynamic offensive winger that has superstar potential. What is best about Raymond is that despite his terrific skill and offensive ability, he is also a highly competitive player and very reliable defensively.
Raymond is a product of Frolunda HC of the SHL and comes to North America as a highly decorated player as a two-time Champions Hockey League Champion and World Junior Bronze, and U-18 Gold Medal winner. In his first year in North America, he has bypassed the AHL, perhaps a surprise as the Wings like to slowly develop prospects, but even more surprising maybe his immediate success!
Playing on the Wings top line, Raymond has 10 points through his first 11 games including a hat-trick performance against the Blackhawks. In Raymond, the Wings have a first-line winger that can drive offense. He deploys excellent deception with his intentions. He makes NHL-level passes with his soft hands and elite vision. He is also a dangerous shooter that can score in close and from range with his quick and accurate shot.
Raymond is a bit undersized and lacks man strength at this stage of his career, but he has a motor and high compete level that compensates. His intelligence and compete also makes him an effective defender without the puck on his stick. Wings fans are used to having elite two-way wingers such as Henrik Zetterberg and Marian Hossa play in Motown and Raymond could be a player of that mold.
- Simon Edvinsson, D – Frolunda HC (SHL)
Drafted: 2021 round one, sixth overall by Detroit Red Wings
The big Swede has been labeled as a boom-or-bust prospect and is a very polarizing prospect in the scouting community. Edvinsson is a hulking defender with man-size of 6-5 and 200 plus pounds as an 18-year-old. Typically, big kids are poor skaters or scouts say, “skates well for a player of his size” The biggest weapon in Edvisson’s arsenal is already his skating. He has an explosive first step, high top-end speed, his range and mobility combined with his long reach and stick give him tremendous range.
Edvinsson plays a physical game using his size to his advantage, but he is not overly aggressive. The big Swede is also a dangerous offensive threat as he can carry the puck in transition and combines his mobility with soft hands and creative offensive vision.
Perhaps his second-best asset is his hockey sense. Edvinsson reads plays very well and is technically a very sound defender. His vision offensively is very creative, and he possesses strong passing ability with his soft touch and vision.
Since his draft, Edvinsson has found a home in the SHL with Frolunda playing over 20 minutes a night and blossoming with nine points and a plus -7 through 16 games. What makes him a polarizing player is he can be prone to making some mistakes on both sides of the puck. Detroit believes that will round out with coaching and development and if they are correct, they will have themselves a top-pairing defenseman.
- Sebastian Cossa, G – Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL)
Drafted: 2021 round one, 15th overall by Detroit Red Wings
The top drafted goalie in the 2021 draft was projected to be Jesper Wallstadt, but as the draft year progressed, Cossa posted some eyebrow-raising numbers in the WHL. The big 6-6 goalie fills a lot of the net and is also athletic. He tracks the puck well and has good quick mobility going up and down to butterfly and post-to-post laterally as well.
Cossa posted impressive stats in his draft year with a 17-1-1 record and 1.57 GAA, albeit on a strong Edmonton Oil Kings team in a weak division. He has picked up where he left off in his D+1 season in Edmonton with a 7-3-2 record and should be the favorite to play in goal for Canada at the WJC in his home barn in Edmonton.
At this stage of his development, Cossa is trending towards becoming a franchise starting NHL goaltender. He is still years away and will require some development in becoming more of a goalie than a shot-blocker, but with the addition of Alex Nedeljkovic to the roster, the Wings can show plenty of patience with Cossa.
- Jonatan Berggren, RW/C – Grand Rapids Griffins (AHL)
Drafted: 2018 round two, 33rd overall by Detroit Red Wings
Since his draft year in 2018, Berggren has been low cooking in the SHL playing in a limited role and minutes with Skelleftea AIK. Last year was his breakout performance leading the team in scoring with 45 points in 48 games. His 33 assists were the second most by any U21 player behind only Henrik Sedin.
Following his breakout season, he was signed by the Wings to his ELC and brought over to North America where he has debuted as a rookie in the AHL. Through his first eight games, he has notched five points and has made a quick and smooth adjustment to the smaller rink.
The Swedish forward is a crafty playmaker who often looks off his intended target. Berggren also shows poise with the puck holding it to lure in attackers and allowing teammates to find open space before threading them a perfect pass.
Berggren is more of a short player than a small player at 5-11 and 194. He is a strong forechecker using his speed to challenge opposing players, battles hard on the boards, and is difficult to clear from in front of the crease. Berggren is a player trending up quickly and may have a short tenure in the AHL before he finds himself in a regular top-six role in Detroit.
- Joe Veleno, C – Detroit Red Wings (NHL)
Drafted: 2018 round one, 30th overall by Detroit Red Wings
The hype and expectations for the former exceptional status prospect have faded considerably now that Veleno is 21 years old and still looking to break into the NHL. While he will never develop into a Steven Stamkos or John Tavares super-star player, he still has the potential to become a regular third-line center. Due to his exceptional status, he was allowed to play in the AHL at age 19 and after a slow start, he found his confidence with Team Canada at the WJC with six points in six games and winning Gold.
Last year he was loaned to Malmo in the SHL while North America was in COVID lockdown. His 20 points ranked seventh among U21 players before he was recalled to North America to the AHL. Veleno finished the year in the NHL and scored his first career NHL goal.
Veleno is back in the NHL after playing the first five games in the AHL. Veleno is a reliable two-way forward that has offensive upside. The time is now for Veleno to carve out an NHL job before he is surpassed on the depth chart.
- Theodor Niederbach, C/LW – Frolunda HC (SHL)
Drafted: 2020 round two, 51st overall by Detroit Red Wings
The Swedish center has spent his D+1 year playing between the Men’s level in the SHL and the junior U20 level with Frolunda. Niederbach is an undersized offensive player that needs to add strength and bulk to transition to the pro men’s level. Still unsigned, Niederbach has returned to the SHL and is seeing more minutes in his D+2 season and remains eligible for the WJC for a second tour with Sweden.
Niederbach has shown he is a highly skilled and gifted offensive player with great vision, once he physically matures, he should see his offense translate to the pro level, and eventually to North America. Niederbach has seen development in his game already since his draft in terms of his skating and play away from the puck. His defensive game may never be above average, and he will never be an imposing physical player, but he could develop into a dynamic offensive player.
- Albert Johansson, D – Farjestad BK (SHL)
Drafted: 2019 round two, 60th overall by Detroit Red Wings
The fleet-footed defenseman has been a rising prospect in the Red Wings system since his draft year in 2019. His play in the SHL has shown steady signs of improvement and his minutes are rising along with it.
Johansson is a mobile player that can cover a lot of ice, create transition and join or lead a rush. The offensive side of his game is still under construction, and he does not project as an offensive leader or PP quarterback, but there is offensive upside in his game.
He’s not an intimidating presence either, but in today’s NHL that is not a requirement to be an effective defender. However, if he were able to add some mass to his slender 168-pound frame it would not hurt. Johansson is projecting t be a solid mobile two-way middle-six defender.
- William Wallinder, D – Rogle BK (SHL)
Drafted; 2020 round two, 32nd overall by Detroit Red Wings
Another Swedish prospect, big Wallinder is a raw talent with good size and an impressive skill set. Already an accomplished skater, the big man has pop in his first step and has a high-end top gear. His edgework is good allowing him a wide range of mobility and reach.
Wallinder had been a product of Modo at the junior level but after a trade to Rogle, he is now in the SHL and has found his offensive game playing regular minutes as a 19-year-old. Through his first 16 games, he has produced three goals and eight points.
Still a work in progress and several years away from the NHL, but the big Swede is making strides and playing his way up the Wings prospect depth chart. He is a player to keep an eye on.
- Jared McIsaac, D – Grand Rapids Griffins (AHL)
Drafted: 2018 round two, 36th overall by Detroit Red Wings
McIsaac has hit a speed bump in his development after being a high-end prospect. Drafted second overall in the QMJHL draft in 2016 by Halifax, he was the QMJHL Defensive Rookie of the Year. The following season he played for Team Canada winning Gold at the Hlinka Tournament and Gold with Canada again in 2020 at the WJC.
Last year he was loaned to HPK in Liiga and was injured in his first game. McIsaac returned to play ten AHL games and was limited to two points. Back and healthy McIsaac is playing his rookie season in the AHL with three points in his first eight games and still looking for his first career pro goal.
During his junior career, McIsaac was able to produce offensive results, but at the pro level, his skillset likely sees him cap out as a minute munching defensive defenseman with some offensive upside playing in a bottom-pairing role.
Robert Mastrosimone – A highly skilled player with toe-drags and quick hands has struggled to provide high-end offensive numbers at the NCAA level at Boston University. The 2019 second-round pick has the skill to be a top prospect but has not found consistency yet.
Elmer Soderblom – The big Swede made a big splash at the WJC showing quick hands and a formidable net-front presence. He continues to develop in the SHL.
Taro Hirose – Falling fast as an NCAA free agent that was signed with high expectations, has played well in the AHL but not in short auditions in the NHL. The clock is ticking
Shai Buium – 2020 second-round pick playing in freshman season at the University of Denver showing potential.
Antti Tuomisto – Another University of Denver player but in his sophomore season was close to half a point per game as a freshman.