Preseason is well underway for the Detroit Red Wings. Following a successful Training Camp, Detroit sent a few guys packing back to juniors. Unfortunately for some, it was not wholly unexpected. The uniquely grueling training camp style, initiated last season, siphoned out the weaker links among the prospects. Among those sent back down, however, there were a few that has us at The Grind Line, scratching our heads.
Taking a look at the selections Detroit has made, we decided to take a look this week, at which cuts we expected and which ones caught us by surprise. The Red Wings have a deep talent pool without a doubt, but did they miss out on some potential?
Least Expected Red Wings Cuts
Rachel Anderson: Pavel Gogolev
As a camp invite, Gogolev made the most of the time he had. He played a quick game and was often the first on the ice and last off of it. He showed determination and a quickness of learning. He’s very young, only 18, but played with maturity. I was a little surprised that he was sent back to the OHL’s Peterborough Petes primarily because he has the making of an elite player. As a left wing, he was also very effective at driving the center as well.
The Wings are in desperate need of centers, and though Gogolev wouldn’t be ready for a few years yet, the talent needs to be developed now. He’s a proven scorer as well, tallying 47 points in 66 games during 2017-18 – well worth looking at for the future of Detroit.
Jacob Messing: Zach Gallant
A third-round pick in 2017 (83rd overall), Gallant was an effective bottom-six player for the Red Wings during the recent Traverse City Prospects Tournament. He scored a nice short-handed goal against the New York Rangers by picking up his own rebound (the penalty kill would ultimately be Detroit’s undoing in the championship.
The 19-year-old was never going to make the team this season and will return to the OHL’s Peterborough Petes, coincidentally with Gogolev for another year of juniors. But Gallant showed a tad more than some remaining in camp. Of course, cuts have to be made and getting him back to Peterborough can help him focus on the season ahead after a slight offensive decline following his draft year.
Expected Red Wings Cuts
Rachel Anderson: Jared McIsaac
The only reason Jared McIsaac was an expected cut, aside from his age, is because of the injury he sustained early in the NHL Prospect Tournament. McIsaac has a strong foundation to build on, however, his unguarded play contributed to his injury. He is an efficient skater and plays his position well, but there is quite a bit of room for improvement.
McIsaac was projected to be out 4-6 weeks to recover from and will rejoin the Halifax Mooseheads. In a few years’ time, McIsaac will ideally play a more guarded and mature game. There are high hopes for him, and he is capable of meeting those expectations.
Jacob Messing: Justin Fazio
There were just too many goaltenders around with Jimmy Howard, Jonathan Bernier, Patrik Rybar, Harri Sateri, and Kaden Fulcher all in camp, as well as invitee Pat Nagle, and Fazio was the easy cut, through no real fault of his own.
Howard and Bernier are set to be in Detroit, with Sateri and Rybar expected to battle it out for the starter’s role in Grand Rapids. Nagel signed a one-year extension in July, but will wind up back in the ECHL with the Toledo Walleye, where he spent all of 2017-18. Fazio is set to join Queen’s University of Canada’s Sports league.
I am a Detroit Red Wings prospect journalist for Access Hockey MI covering the Grand Rapids Griffins and Toledo Walleye prospect development. Draft analyst for USHL hockey with the Muskegon Lumberjacks.