Hockey fans in the Midwest have no shortage of options when it comes to viewing the Detroit Red Wings and their prospects. Two and a half hours to the west is their American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate, the Grand Rapids Griffins. About an hour south of Detroit is their ECHL affiliate, the Toledo Walleye. If you are within reasonable driving distance of all three cities, you have all the opportunity in the world to see the present and future of the team from Hockeytown.
However, not everyone is able to make those trips to Grand Rapids and Toledo, and that’s where we come in. That’s right, it’s time for another Red Wings Prospect Report!
As the introduction suggests, we’re taking a look at some of the Red Wings’ prospects in the AHL, as well as their most notable prospect in the ECHL. Let’s take a look at how things are looking down on the farm.
Cossa Impresses with the Walleye
After spending the first month or so of the season bouncing between Grand Rapids and Toledo, goaltender Sebastian Cossa seems to have made himself at home with the Walleye. The 20-year-old has now seen action in 11 ECHL games, compiling a record of 4-6-1, a 2.98 goals-against average and a .898 save-percentage. But don’t let the numbers fool you, he has given Walleye fans plenty to cheer about this season.
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The 15th pick of the 2021 draft is establishing himself as a goaltender that is fun to watch. He sprawls across the crease to make desperation saves, and he uses his size (6-foot-6, 200 pounds) to his advantage both as a way to stop pucks and as a way to intimidate his opponents. In other words, Cossa is building a reputation as goalie who won’t take any *stuff* from anyone.
The fact that Cossa is in Toledo may be a bit of bummer for fans that thought he would spend this season in the AHL, but the stable playing time he has received this month is huge for his development. With Juho Olkinuora and Victor Brattström holding down the fort in Grand Rapids (for now), the opportunity for playing time in the AHL simply was not and is not there for Cossa.
The Walleye currently have a 5-8-1 record and sit sixth in the ECHL’s Central Division.
Hanas Acclimating Well to the AHL
After he recorded 60 assists in 63 games last season with the Portland Winterhawks of the Western Hockey League, you would be forgiven if you thought that Cross Hanas was going to be more of a playmaker in his first season in the AHL. Instead, he is second on the Griffins with seven goals, and his 12 points place him fifth in team scoring.
“Just been working really hard for the past few years for this,” Hanas told reporters early on in the season. “Everything’s just another level; obviously it’s pro hockey. You [have to] make your decisions quick, and you [have to] have your head on a swivel because there’s a lot of bigger guys out there.”
Hanas has looked the part of professional hockey player through the first month and a half of his pro career. Though there have been times where he has been overaggressive, leading him to take unnecessary penalties, he is a consistent threat when he has the puck on his stick. Though he has mostly made an impact with his scoring ability early on, he is always looking to create plays like he did at the junior level last season.
“Obviously being a young guy in this league, I think just filling out my frame and keep getting stronger,” Hanas answered when asked what improvements he wishes to make this season. “Nobody can be a good enough skater, right? So keep working on that and keep getting stronger.”
Hanas has recently spent time on the Griffins’ top line alongside Taro Hirose and Austin Czarnik, the latter of which has already seen action with the Red Wings this season. That Hanas is seeing time alongside the best forwards that Grand Rapids has to offer is a positive sign for the 20-year-old forward. As his body and his game continue to get stronger, it will only be a matter of time before fans start wondering when he will earn his “wings”.
Has Tyutyayev’s Luster Worn Off?
A little over a year ago, fans up in Traverse City witnessed what they thought was the birth of a star. Kirill Tyutyayev, a seventh round pick in the 2019 draft, arrived as a relative unknown, but his play at the Traverse City Prospect Tournament made a lot of fans pull out their phones so that they could Google how to spell and pronounce his last name. When he went down with a season-ending injury just nine games into 2021-22 AHL season, it was deflating, but the air wasn’t completely let out of the balloon.
Fast forward to this season and the young Russian winger has not had the same pop as he did a year ago. In 16 games, he has just four points, one more than he had in nine games last season. It’s not for a lack of trying, though.
Tyutyayev has shown himself to be a player that likes to be in the thick of things on the ice. He engages in board battles despite being just 5-foot-10, 175 pounds, and he is always looking to push the play towards the offensive zone. His two-way play isn’t great, and that’s a big reason why Griffins head coach Ben Simon has restricted the 22-year-old’s ice time. If Tyutyayev wants to make a bigger impact in Grand Rapids, he’ll need to make the most of the minutes he is given, even if that means focusing on the defensive side of the game rather than leaning into his offensive capabilities.
- Defenseman Jared McIsaac has had a successful start to his second AHL campaign. His nine points this season tie him with Simon Edvinsson for the most points among Griffins defenders (though Edvinsson has played five fewer games than McIsaac.) McIsaac has moved around the lineup, spending time with veterans like Wyatt Newpower and Brian Lashoff, as well as Edvinsson on the team’s top pairing. Though his defensive struggles mirror that of the Griffins as a whole, the 2018 draftee has looked quite comfortable this season, and he’s finding ways to make an impact at both ends of the rink. His contract is up at the end of the season, and with how loaded the Red Wings’ defensive pipeline is, it will be interesting to see how the organization handles him in the coming months.
- Swedish free agent signee Pontus Andreasson took a few games to get acclimated to his new surroundings, but it appears that he has hit his stride with the Griffins. The 24-year-old has 12 points in his last 10 games, and 13 points in 17 total games this season. He has played steadily in Grand Rapids’ top-nine this season.
- 2022 second round pick Dmitri Buchelnikov was named rookie of the week in the Russian VHL:
Red Wings Have Decisions Coming Up
Beyond the players currently playing in the minor leagues and overseas, the Red Wings also have two Swedish forwards that they will have to make decisions on soon.
Elmer Söderblom has been nursing a lower-body injury for a few weeks now, and as of Nov. 27, he still hasn’t returned to practice. While the towering winger made the NHL roster out of training camp, the holes in his defensive game became apparent prior to his injury, and the amount of time he has spent away from the rink may put him in a spot where he needs to spend some time in the AHL before coming back up to the NHL. The Red Wings can afford to exercise caution with how they handle him, so expect him to make his Griffins debut once he’s cleared to resume playing games.
Another reason why Söderblom may be sent down is because Jonatan Berggren is currently up with the Red Wings and he hasn’t looked out of place. The 22-year-old winger had seven points in seven games with the Griffins prior to his call-up, and now he has five points in seven games with the Red Wings. However, once Robby Fabbri returns in January, the Red Wings will have to make room for him somehow, and that may include sending Berggren back down to Grand Rapids.
All of this just goes to show that managing prospects is an everyday task, and when you have as many as the Red Wings have, sometimes the solutions aren’t going to be popular. What’s good for this team’s youth is good for the team’s long-term outlook, however, and so expect the Red Wings to continue to prioritize playing time for their top prospects throughout this season.
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I am a Western Michigan University alum whose passion for hockey knows no limits. Dr. Pepper enthusiast. Catch me and my fellow Red Wings writers’ YouTube show “The Hockey Writers Grind Line” which drops every Saturday.