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. Rachel Anderson, Jake Rivard, and Devin Little are the muckers who THW’s forechecking unit and sound off on Red Wings topics.
The NHL Prospect Tournament is well underway. With several hours of hockey in the books already, each franchise has a pretty good grasp of which prospects are stepping up their game and which ones could use a bit of fire.
The Detroit Red Wings have much to be thankful for with this season’s prospect pool in attendance. There are obvious signs of growth among most, if not all, of the draftees and invitees. On top of showing tremendous team chemistry, Detroit’s chosen few are putting up a fight not seen at the tournament since their last victory in 2013.
There are several young talented players who have had outstanding performances, along with a few who could use a bit of a boost. Though the tournament is half over, there is still time for the Red Wings to make a stand if all their players contribute. The Grind Line wanted to take a look at the Red Wings prospects and discuss who are outperforming the rest and who may need to step up their game.
Chase Pearson has been a pleasant surprise for me in this year’s tournament. He was added to the Grand Rapids Griffins roster late in the 2018-19 season. That being the case, he didn’t get a chance to display his abilities very much. Though others like Joe Veleno and Moritz Seider have taken center stage, Pearson has been a workhorse throughout the tournament. He’s strong on the boards and has shown an energetic effort consistently. He dives headfirst into every shift which will come in handy when playing in the faster-paced AHL.
Heading into the final stretch of the tournament, I really want to see more from is Elmer Soderblom. He’s a very large skater at 6-foot-7, so his ability to accelerate is lacking. His play-making skills are evident but getting accustomed to the smaller ice will be something he has to work on. Coming out of the Swedish Hockey League (SHL), he’s struggling a bit with setting up plays as quickly as he should – though the hockey sense is there.
Of course, we expected Filip Zadina to produce during the rookie tournament, but, we were expecting goals. Instead, the winger has displayed great hockey sense and the ability to set up a play, with the main beneficiary being Joe Veleno. Being an elite goal-scorer is one thing, but if Zadina can make the guys around him just as lethal, that bodes very well for Detroit’s future.
On the flip side, I’d like to see more from young Gustav Lindstrom. A former second-round pick, Lindstrom has never been known to scorch the scoresheet. However, I’d like to see him stand out a bit more amongst his peers. All eyes are on Moritz Seider on the back end, but Lindstrom’s play and development shouldn’t fall by the wayside.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Joe Veleno came to the tournament to make an impression. Through just two games, he has a team-leading four goals. Watching him play alongside fellow first-rounder Filip Zadina is nothing short of exciting. They’re bound to be difference-makers in Detroit for years to come; this is just a little teaser of the future for Red Wings fans.
I was hoping we’d get to see a little more out of Charle-Edouard D’Astous, a recent signee by the Grand Rapids Griffins who led QMJHL defensemen in scoring last year. He’s probably getting used to the faster pace of the NHL, but as of right now, he seems lost in the crowd. D’Astous will spend the season in Grand Rapids and will likely have a better opportunity to step up his game as a top-four defenseman for the Griffins.
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.