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, Devin Little, Raymond Harrison, and Jake Rivard are the muckers who makeup THW’s forechecking unit and sound off on Red Wings topics.
It can be hard to keep your head up during a tough season.
The Detroit Red Wings have now lost 12 straight, the weight of each failure hanging over the team like a gloomy cloud. Fortunately, with a strong prospect pool, surprise showings from players like Robby Fabbri, and a cohesive management team with general manager Steve Yzerman at the helm, salvation is only a few seasons away. Until then, we can feel positive about the future by keeping our eyes on these players and prospects:
Jake Rivard: Robby Fabbri’s Emergence
Earlier in the season, Yzerman made it his goal to jump-start the roster. In a surprising move, he flipped Jacob de la Rose, a waiver pick from the 2018-19 season, for Fabbri, the St. Louis Blues’ first-round pick in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft. Fabbri, who was often a healthy scratch, struggled to cement his place on the Blues’ roster. With more leeway in Detroit, he’s excelled in his role, scoring a pretty 12 points in 14 games. He might have excelled on the Blues had it not been for injuries, but timing and a little bit of luck secured the high-flying forward for the Red Wings.
Fabbri has been brilliant in his first 14 games, often serving as the team’s only scoring threat during the tougher battles. He’s quick with the puck, utilizing his vision and high hockey IQ to set himself apart from the competition. If he continues on this pace, he’ll be a key part of Detroit’s future Cup runs. He is playing on the first line with Tyler Bertuzzi and Dylan Larkin while Anthony Mantha recovers from injury. When Mantha returns, Fabbri will likely become the offensive catalyst on the second line alongside players like Andreas Athanasiou and Valtteri Filppula. He brings depth scoring and an excellent eye for offense to a team in desperate need of both.
Rachel Anderson: Evgeny Svechnikov Making up for Lost Time
Last season’s tragic injury ended Svechnkiov’s chance at making the big leagues before it began. With that said, burning up a season of development due to surgery turned out to be a blessing in disguise for Svechnikov and the team, as it added one more year to his contract by default. That extra season is what Evgeny is in now and he’s more than making the most of it.
Svechnikov’s intensity for the game has remained undimmed throughout his recovery struggles. Offensively, he’s dug himself out of the “sophomore slump” he was in prior to the injury. Should his momentum continue at the rate it is, he could easily be a point-per-game player in the AHL.
He’s no longer a rookie and out of that spotlight, but he’s earned quite a bit of ice time and responsibility. He’s earned the admiration of his teammates and coaching staff. I spoke to head coach, Ben Simon, who had described Svechnikov as being “passionate for the team and that’s what drives him.”
Svechnikov’s desire is for the team to win and be successful which is conversely is causing him to reach for a higher level of play than seasons passed. It’s my belief that Detroit will make a place for him long-term if his current performance keeps up.
Raymond Harrison: Moritz Seider’s Stellar Start
At the 2019 NHL Entry Draft, the the hockey world’s collective jaw dropped when the Red Wings selected Moritz Seider with the sixth-overall pick. While Seider’s stock rose steadily heading into draft day, most were shocked when Yzerman passed on several skilled forwards.
Fast forward to December, and concerns have transformed into rave reviews for the German defenseman. Seider has posted 12 points in 25 games with the Grand Rapids Griffins in the American Hockey League and is currently on pace to record the most points ever by an 18-year-old defenseman in an AHL season.
At 6-foot-4, the rangy rearguard has showcased his impressive mobility during his first professional season in North America. He is also going to be an integral part of the German team at the 2020 World Junior Championships.
Devin Little: Filip Hronek Is for Real
At the end of last season, Hronek really came into his own with the Red Wings. He spent the 2018-19 season racing between Grand Rapids and Detroit before finally settling in with the big club, which has allowed him to succeed on the blue line this season.
Averaging 23:05 a night, Hronek leads the team in average ice time, and his 14 points marks the best total among the team’s defenders. He makes the occasional blunder here and there, which is to be expected from a 22-year-old, but his overall impact on the game is positive. In fact, if he had more support from his teammates, Hronek’s name would be more recognizable.
Hronek has a lot of potential. He’s far-and-beyond the team’s best defenseman, but still has a way to go in his development. The thought of him pairing alongside future defensive star Seider should make even the most skeptical of Red Wings fans burst into a grin. The Red Wings’ defense has been atrocious this season, but Hronek should remind fans that there’s reasons for optimism going forward.