What’s The Grind Line? Apart from the once-famous line of Kris Draper, Kirk Maltby, and either Joe Kocur or Darren McCarty, The Grind Line is also The Hockey Writers’ weekly column about the Detroit Red Wings. Josh Bell, Devin Little, and Tony Wolak are the muckers who makeup THW’s forechecking unit and sound off on Red Wings topics.
It’s September, which means the annual NHL Prospect Tournament is finally here. And headlining the 2019 roster is first-round pick Moritz Seider.
A special case, Seider is sticking around until Steve Yzerman and Detroit’s management team decides where he’ll play this season. The NHL Prospect Tournament will be his first opportunity to prove he belongs in either Detroit or Grand Rapids.
Though there are some exceptions (Elmer Soderblom, Gustav Berglund), the tournament is normally comprised of players from North American professional and major junior leagues. North American draft picks Robert Mastrosimone, Ethan Phillips, Cooper Moore, and Carter Gylander are all college-bound—this year or next—and must skip the annual showcase to maintain their amateur status.
Even without most of the 2019 draft class, there are still a handful of intriguing prospects to watch. In this week’s edition of The Grind Line, The Hockey Writers’ Red Wings coverage team identifies one prospect they’ll be tracking, why they’re important to Detroit’s future, and what you can expect of them this season.
Tony Wolak: Filip Larsson
Over the last couple seasons, Filip Larsson certainly captured the attention of Red Wings fans everywhere. After coming over from Sweden, he took home Goalie of the Year honors following a standout first season in the USHL. Larsson then had an outstanding freshman campaign at the University of Denver, where he led the Pioneers to the Frozen Four.
Now, Larsson will have the opportunity to prove himself against some of the league’s top prospects, including Kaapo Kakko and Kirby Dach. But will the netminder be able pick up where he left off with Denver?
If he’s able to seamlessly transition to the tournament’s pace—mostly AHL talent—then Red Wings and Griffins fans should feel confident heading into the 2019-20 season. Larsson could in fact be the goaltender of the future, especially if he can quickly adapt to the play around him – just as he was able to do at the USHL and NCAA levels.
While Calvin Pickard might start more games this season in Grand Rapids, I expect Larsson to push for the starting role when playoffs roll around in the spring. He has the strong lateral movement and rebound control needed to succeed – he just needs to acclimate himself to the AHL’s pace of play to thrive.
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Devin Little: Filip Larsson
The NHL Prospect Tournament isn’t the best showcase for goaltending prospects. Typically, every goalie on a team’s roster will spend some time facing opposition. However, the best goalies at the tournament still stand out, even in limited action.
This season marks Larsson’s first as a pro. As it currently stands, he’s the anointed “goalie of the future” and will see plenty of reps with the Griffins this season. The tournament should offer a good glimpse into what to expect from the young goalie.
Fans and Red Wings management shouldn’t go into this expecting shutouts and mid-season sharpness. Instead, look for strong fundamentals and the ability to read a play. Things will be happening just a little bit faster in front of him, with another speed increase awaiting in the AHL. If he displays the ability to adapt, that bodes well for the Griffins and, of course, the Red Wings.
Josh Bell, THW’s Prospect Writer: Moritz Seider
For many Red Wings fans and even hockey fans in general, the NHL Prospect Tournament will be the first glimpse at Seider. The hockey world was shocked back in June when Yzerman announced his name – including Seider himself. Now, the German defender will begin to show why the club selected him sixth overall.
As mentioned, where Seider will play is still very much up in the air. The option is still there to send him back to Adler Mannheim, he was drafted by the OHL’s Owen Sound Attack in the 2018 CHL Import Draft, or he could make the jump to the Griffins or even the NHL roster. Obviously, he’ll want to be with the Red Wings and he’ll start making his case in this tournament.
Seider is a stud defenseman, with top-pairing talent. However, he is just 18 years old and it’s a big jump from the DEL to the NHL. That being said, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him impress early and get some games this season in Detroit – likely be no more than nine games as to not burn a year of his entry-level contract. Expect a strong tournament and training camp from the DEL Rookie of the Year as he pushes for a roster spot.