One of the few success stories within this season for the Detroit Red Wings is the call-up of Filip Zadina. He currently sits in the team’s top-10 for scoring in both goals and points. Furthermore, it looks like he’s only getting better the longer he stays in Detroit. This prompts the question: who’s next?
Given the putrid state of the Red Wings’ roster, there is ample opportunity for a player to step in and make their mark. The Grand Rapids Griffins, the Red Wings’ American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate, have not performed up to expectations this season. This means there’s less of a reason to keep the team’s prospects down in the AHL in hopes of chasing a playoff run. Like Zadina last season, somebody might be due for a nine-game audition soon.
Here are a few players that might fit the bill:
Moritz Seider (D)
Coming off a spectacular World Juniors tournament, the Red Wings’ top pick in the 2019 Draft may be headed to the Motor City sooner rather than later. Seider has performed admirably at the AHL level too, collecting 12 points across 28 games.
People point to the Red Wings’ defense as the biggest culprit for the team’s struggles. Injecting Seider into the lineup would not only show fans what is to come, but it may even improve the team’s defensive performances, if even a little bit.
Taro Hirose (W)
This one feels like cheating, but he’s still in line for a call-up. Hirose began the season on the Red Wings’ roster, playing in 23 games and picking up seven points along the way. Since his demotion to the Griffins, Hirose has 10 points in 14 games, showing the offensive acumen that made him a highly sought-after college free agent.
The 23-year-old may not be a top-line threat, but he has shown the ability to produce down the lineup. Given his average ice-time this season in the NHL of 12:17, it appears that head coach Jeff Blashill realizes Hirose’s limitations. Paired with a finisher, Hirose’s ability to make plays would be put on display yet again.
Hirose isn’t the best or the most “flashy” prospect in the Red Wings’ pool, but he is one of the few on that fine line between the AHL and the NHL. A call-up could be what cements his status as an NHL player rather than an AHL one.
Joe Veleno (C)
The other guy picked in the first round of the 2018 Draft, Veleno had himself a successful World Junior tournament as well. Following a gold medal run with Canada, Veleno may be ready for an audition in the NHL much like Seider.
Veleno’s first season at the pro level hasn’t come without some growing pains. It took the young center a while before recording his first goal in the AHL, but currently sits with 12 points in 29 games. After displaying a strong two-way game during the World Juniors, it appears that his struggles at the pro level haven’t hindered his progression as a player.
It’s not likely that Veleno would stick with the Red Wings if he were summoned, but it would give the organization and the player himself a better idea of where he stands as a professional. A nine-game audition like the one Zadina had last season would do wonders for his progress.
Michael Rasmussen (C)
It appears that the big forward is on the verge of returning to the Griffins lineup after suffering an injury just 10 games into the AHL season. Prior to the injury, Rasmussen was on a tear, collecting nine points and showing tangible growth as a player.
After getting his legs under him again, the Red Wings could reward their top pick of the 2017 Draft with a return to Detroit. It’s not like he’s unfamiliar with the NHL game — he spent the entire 2018-19 season with the Red Wings.
Rasmussen is kind of a question mark in terms of where he fits into the Red Wings’ long-term plans. A natural center, Rasmussen provides competition at the position for a player like Veleno going forward. However, as the Red Wings continue to collect highly skilled forward prospects, it appears Rasmussen could become the organization’s third-line center of the future. There’s no time like the present to test how high Rasmussen can climb.
With the trade deadline inching closer and closer, there will likely be holes opening up on the Red Wings’ roster. General manager Steve Yzerman will likely challenge the organization’s prospects to grab on to one of those spots. Doing so will promote the growth of the player and the team as a whole.
A call-up has to be earned, and each player on this list can make an argument that they’ve done just that. It’s up to Yzerman to make that call, and for those players to prove him right once they arrive.