There’s no doubt about it: Moritz Seider and Lucas Raymond are dominating the chatter around “Hockeytown” these days, and for good reason. Coming into this season as the Detroit Red Wings’ top two prospects, big things were expected of both players upon arriving in the NHL, and so far they have met and even exceeded expectations. Now that the team is a few years into their rebuild under general manager Steve Yzerman, it is undoubtedly encouraging to see some of the fruits of this rebuild begin to propel the Red Wings forward.
And yet, the story doesn’t end with Raymond and Seider. The Red Wings still have a number of high-quality prospects playing at various levels and leagues around the world, and there are encouraging signs from some of those players as well. From the American Hockey League (AHL) to the Swedish Hockey League (SHL), let’s take a look at how the Red Wings’ top prospects are performing early on in the 2021-22 season.
AHL- Grand Rapids Griffins
Joe Veleno – Center
THW Rank: 6th
Games Played (GP): 5
Stat Line: 3 Goals (G), 3 Points (P)
After narrowly missing the cut-off for the top five in our most recent Red Wings prospect rankings, Joe Veleno began this season with the Grand Rapids Griffins of the AHL after being the final cut from the Red Wings’ roster in training camp. The 21-year-old center has since fared pretty well, scoring three goals through five games.
Of course, the most recent development regarding Veleno is the most encouraging. Due to Tyler Bertuzzi’s vaccination status as well as an injury sustained by winger Adam Erne, Veleno was summoned from the AHL before the Red Wings’ recent game against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Slotted in on the left wing on the team’s second line, the man whose last name translates to “Poison” made an immediate impact for the Red Wings, collecting two points in the game, including this beautiful play to set up a Vladislav Namestnikov goal:
You could argue that Veleno deserved to be on the Red Wings’ roster from opening night of the season. Regardless, he has performed admirably at both the AHL and NHL level to start this season, boding well for the young center as we begin the month of November. While his development hinges on him being able to play down the middle, he may not get additional NHL opportunities early on this season unless he’s slotted in on the wing. That’s why it was so important to see Red Wings head coach Jeff Blashill’s willingness to use Veleno as a winger in his first NHL game this season.
That Veleno was arguably the Red Wings’ best player in that game was just the cherry on top.
Jonatan Berggren – Left Wing
THW Rank: 4th
Stat Line: 2 G, 4 P
Now that Jonatan Berggren knows how to get to Grand Rapids, he hasn’t looked out of place in his first taste of regular season action in North America. Not only has the 21-year-old winger been able to bury a few chances himself, but he’s already displayed the playmaking ability that made him such a treat to track over the course of last season over in the SHL:
It is also worth noting that, while the Griffins as a team have a minus-3 goal differential to start this season, he has a solid minus-1 rating while playing top six minutes. While the Red Wings are likely in no rush to bring him up to Detroit, Berggren is certainly turning some heads in the AHL, and it shouldn’t be too surprising if he eventually gets his first taste of the NHL this season, depending on if he can continue his impressive play to start this season.
Western Hockey League (WHL) – Edmonton Oil Kings
Sebastian Cossa – Goaltender
THW Rank: 5th
Stat Line: 1.58 Goals-Against Average (GAA); .943 Save Percentage (GAA)
Perhaps the most disappointing part of the Red Wings’ Traverse City Prospects Tournament experience was the play of goaltender Sebastian Cossa, whom the team drafted with the 15th pick of the 2021 draft. While his physical tools were certainly on display, he generally looked a step behind the opposition, and he seemed to become a bit rattled as the St. Louis Blues continued to sneak goals past him. Anybody who was hoping that he would come in and instantly look like an NHL-ready goaltender – potentially including Cossa himself – was smacked in the face with reality right away.
Cossa wasted no time getting back into his groove once he returned to the Edmonton Oil Kings of the WHL. Following a season where he posted a 17-1-1 record along with a 1.57 GAA and a .941 SV%, his stat line already mirrors last season, given it’s over nine fewer games. It’s going to be very interesting to see whether or not he can maintain these numbers as the sample size gets larger and larger.
One other thing to note is that Cossa is likely the favorite to man the crease for Team Canada at the 2022 IIHF World Junior Tournament, set to begin on Dec. 26. His ability to nail down the starting role, and then how he performs during the tournament could offer the best look at where he’s at as a prospect. This is a big year for the 6-foot-6 goalie, and he’s off to a good start.
HockeyAllsvenskan – HV71
Filip Larsson – Goaltender
THW Rank: Not Ranked
Stat Line: 2.25 GAA; .910 SV%
Remember this guy? After struggling to find his footing in the AHL during the 2019-20 season, Filip Larsson found his way over to both Sweden and Denmark last season, with neither stops being overly successful for the 23-year-old goaltender. Yet, through four games in what is essentially Sweden’s version of the AHL, he has a promising stat line, and hasn’t looked as overwhelmed as he has over the last couple of seasons.
Just two years ago, many people had anointed the Stockholm-native as the Red Wings’ goaltender of the future. In fact, it was partially due to his disappointing year in the AHL that it became clear that Yzerman needed to find another young goaltender to add to the system, thus opening the door for the Cossa pick this past summer. Larsson is still a long ways from regaining the luster that was once associated with his name, but his strong play to start this season certainly bodes well for him.
SHL – Frölunda HC
Simon Edvinsson – Defense
THW Rank: 3rd
Stat Line: 1 G, 9 P
I’m going to take this moment to eat some crow. In the months and weeks leading up to the 2021 draft, I had Edvinsson pegged as a boom or bust prospect whose game needed to mature before we could talk about him playing in the NHL. I projected him as two or three years away from having a shot at making the team, despite the rave reviews from my colleague Kyle Knopp.
Even Steph Curry misses from time to time.
In all seriousness, Edvinsson has looked great early on in the SHL season playing for the Frölunda
Red Wings Hockey Club. While his mobility has never been in question, it is truly remarkable to watch him zip around the ice while standing at 6-foot-5. Package that skating ability with a well-rounded game that he puts on display night-in and night-out, and what we have here is nothing less than the Red Wings’ new top prospect.
Edvinsson is going to push for a roster spot in Detroit starting next season. While it’s less certain as to whether or not he will secure a roster spot next Fall, there should be little doubt that he’s a lot closer to the NHL than some (like me) may have thought. Like Seider last year, it’s going to be loads of fun to track this kid as his season in the SHL continues.
Red Wings’ Prospects are Coming
It is a testament to the drafting the Red Wings have done over the last few years that two blue chip prospects like Seider and Raymond can graduate and the team still has plenty of enticing prospects waiting in the wings – so many, in fact, that we’ve only scratched the surface of what’s going on throughout Detroit’s prospect pool.
I suppose we’ll have to provide another prospect update in the near future….
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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.