Even though the Detroit Red Wings stand to add a handful of quality prospects at the 2020 NHL Draft, they still possess a deep prospect pool.
Former first-round picks Filip Zadina and Moritz Seider headline a group which should begin to pay dividends at the NHL level as soon as next season. Seider, in particular, could jump into a meaningful role on Detroit’s blue line.
“He will get an opportunity, whenever our season kicks off,” Steve Yzerman told the Detroit Free Press. “He will get an opportunity to show he is ready to play. If he is ready to go, he will play.”
But to contend, the Red Wings will need contributions from more than just their two prized prospects. Let’s take a look at how Detroit’s prospects stack up beyond Zadina and Seider.
Red Wings’ Top 25 Prospects
Before diving into the rankings, it’s worth noting who’s a prospect and who’s not. Here’s the criteria that I used:
- Must be 24 or younger
- Can be assigned to Grand Rapids without having to pass through waivers
- Played 10-plus games below the NHL level during the 2019-20 season
Based on these rules, Christoffer Ehn, Dmytro Timashov, Dominic Turgeon, and Joe Hicketts are no longer considered “prospects.” I’m also calling an audible and including Evgeny Svechnikov on this list even though he’ll need waivers to be assigned to the AHL next season.
Now onto the rankings.
|Rk||Prospect||Pos||2019-20 Stats||2019-20 Team(s)|
|1||Moritz Seider||RD||49 GP – 2 G – 20 A – 22 PTS||Grand Rapids (AHL)|
|2||Filip Zadina||RW||21 GP – 9 G – 7 A – 16 PTS||Grand Rapids (AHL)|
|3||Joe Veleno||C||54 GP – 11 G – 12 A – 23 PTS||Grand Rapids (AHL)|
|4||Michael Rasmussen||C||35 GP – 7 G – 15 A – 22 PTS||Grand Rapids (AHL)|
|5||Dennis Cholowski||LD||30 GP – 3 G – 10 A – 13 PTS||Grand Rapids (AHL)|
|6||Jared McIsaac||LD||25 GP – 4 G – 13 A – 17 PTS||Moncton (QMJHL)|
|7||Jonatan Berggren||LW||24 GP – 2 G – 10 A – 12 PTS||Skellefteå AIK (SHL)|
|8||Antti Tuomisto||RD||48 GP – 15 G – 34 A – 49 PTS||Ässät U20 (Jr. A SM-liiga)|
|9||Albert Johansson||LD||42 GP – 2 G – 11 A – 13 PTS||Färjestad BK (SHL)|
|10||Evgeny Svechnikov||RW||51 GP – 11 G – 14 A – 25 PTS||Grand Rapids (AHL)|
|11||Robert Mastrosimone||LW||34 GP – 7 G – 10 A – 17 PTS||Boston U. (NCAA)|
|12||Gustav Lindstrom||RD||45 GP – 0 G – 5 A – 5 PTS||Grand Rapids (AHL)|
|13||Givani Smith||LW||37 GP – 9 G – 10 A – 19 PTS||Grand Rapids (AHL)|
|14||Taro Hirose||LW||35 GP – 5 G – 22 A – 27 PTS||Grand Rapids (AHL)|
|15||Albin Grewe||LW||23 GP – 6 G – 13 A – 19 PTS||Djurgårdens IF J20 (SuperElit)|
|16||Filip Larsson||G||7 GP – 4.01 GAA – .843 SV%||Grand Rapids (AHL)|
|17||Elmer Soderblom||C||36 GP – 29 G – 26 A – 55 PTS||Frölunda HC J20 (SuperElit)|
|18||Keith Petruzzelli||G||34 GP – 2.01 GAA – .920 SV%||Quinnipiac (NCAA)|
|19||Chase Pearson||C||59 GP – 8 G – 14 A – 22 PTS||Grand Rapids (AHL)|
|20||Otto Kivenmäki||C||53 GP – 5 G – 16 A – 21 PTS||Ässät (Liiga)|
|21||Jesper Eliasson||G||25 GP – 3.09 GAA – .887 SV%||Almtuna IS (Allsvenskan)|
|22||Victor Brattstrom||G||45 GP – 2.13 GAA – .914 SV%||Timrå IK (Allsvenskan)|
|23||Seth Barton||RD||30 GP – 3 G – 12 A – 15 PTS||UMass-Lowell (NCAA)|
|24||Ethan Phillips||C||31 GP – 2 G – 8 A – 10 PTS||Boston U. (NCAA)|
|25||Cooper Moore||LD||55 GP – 12 G – 21 A – 33 PTS||Chilliwack Chiefs (BCHL)|
Rasmussen & Veleno’s Future at Center
When the Red Wings drafted Michael Rasmussen and Joe Veleno, the organization envisioned that the two would slot in down the middle behind Dylan Larkin. But depending on which player Detroit selects in the 2020 NHL Draft, one of Rasmussen or Veleno could move to the wing.
While chatting with Red Wings prospects guru Mark Hillier, we both agreed that Detroit would be in an enviable position with their center depth if they drafted Marco Rossi or Cole Perfetti at No. 4. However, it wouldn’t make a lot of sense to play all four of Larkin, Rasmussen, Veleno, and Rossi/Perfetti at center, with one anchoring the fourth line. Instead, either Veleno or Rasmussen could play a middle-six wing role while the other is penciled in as the third-line pivot.
Both have experience flanking skilled centers. Veleno skated as a top-line wing for Team Canada at the 2020 World Junior Championship and Rasmussen moved to the wing for his final WHL playoff season, where he produced 33 points in 14 games.
Of the two, it makes more sense to shift Veleno out of the center role. His offensive skill set is a little more advanced than that of Rasmussen and he could thrive on a line with Perfetti/Rossi and Zadina on the opposite wing. Plus, Rasmussen’s two-way game would make him a good candidate to match up against opponents’ top lines as a shutdown center with some offensive upside.
2020 & 2021 Draft Thoughts
While either Rossi or Perfetti (or Swedish winger Lucas Raymond) would be outstanding picks at No. 4, keep an eye on the No. 32 and No. 45 selections as well. The Red Wings have a fantastic opportunity to bolster their already solid prospect pipeline, especially at forward. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Detroit wait until the third or fourth round to draft a defenseman this year.
Think about it: They drafted Seider, Antti Tuomisto, and Albert Johansson in the first three rounds last year, plus Cooper Moore and Gustav Berglund later on. Add in Jared McIsaac, Dennis Cholowski, and Gustav Lindstrom and there’s some solid depth on the blue line.
You also have to consider the 2021 draft class. As many as five elite defensemen—Brandt Clarke, Carson Lambos, Owen Power, Luke Hughes, and Simon Edvinsson—are expected to go in the first 10 selections. All five would be fantastic additions when/if the Red Wings choose somewhere in the top 10 a year from now.
Back to 2020, there aren’t many elite defensemen outside of Jamie Drysdale and Jake Sanderson in this year’s class. While teams with organizational needs on the blue line prioritize the second tier of defensemen, more quality forwards could fall to the Red Wings at No. 32 and No. 46 (plus Washington’s pick later in the second round). And as a result, Detroit’s prospect depth at forward will continue to grow.
Related: 2020 NHL Draft Guide
While Steve Yzerman preached patience early on, we’re already starting to see Detroit’s prospect pipeline reach new heights. And I’m not just talking about 6-foot-7 Elmer Soderblom.
Behind Seider, Zadina, Veleno, and Rasmussen, the Red Wings have great prospect depth, especially on defense. Offensively, they could use a boost, which will likely happen at this year’s draft. Goaltending could be improved as well. But overall, the Red Wings’ farm system is trending in the right direction.