The Detroit Red Wings are eliminated from the playoffs.
They’re the first team out, with the worst record in the league.
There has been speculation about calling up the Wings’ first-round pick from last year, Moritz Seider. The 18-year-old defenseman has been putting up good numbers with the club’s AHL affiliate in Grand Rapids, but will GM Steve Yzerman decide that Seider needs some NHL experience before next year, or that his development would be better off keeping him in the AHL, where Grand Rapids is making a late-season push toward the playoffs?
Previous Call-Ups from the Griffins
The Wings have a recent history of bringing younger players up to the NHL. Michael Rasmussen was brought onto the team as an 18-year-old in 2018-19 and then was sent to Grand Rapids this season to further his development. Part of that development is learning a new role as the Wings want him to transition from wing to center, but much of why he is in Grand Rapids is because the organization wants him to develop confidence at playing the faster and more physical NHL-style game.
Contrast that with the play of Gustav Lindstrom. He was drafted in the same year as Rasmussen but hadn’t seen any NHL time until recently this season. The difference is that Lindstrom seems comfortable playing NHL hockey and is regarded as a dependable, safe defenseman. (from ‘Why the Detroit Red Wings are calling up young defenseman Gustav Lindstrom,’ Detroit Free Press, 02/06/2020) There doesn’t seem to be any lack of confidence.
Another player that was called up at a young age was Dennis Cholowski. The young defenseman looked like he was going to be a star coming on the stage at the beginning of the season last year, but after the long grind of the NHL season started to set in, some significant holes in his game were exposed. He was sent down to Grand Rapids in the hopes that he could correct them, and has been there for most of the time since.
“He’s just been in a position where he’s racked up lots of minuses, both from a plus-minus standpoint and from a chances-against,” head coach Jeff Blashill said. “So, let’s go down; let’s grow as a player, and let’s keep getting better. I think he’s had a real good year and it’s been a real positive for him, now let’s keep that positive going.” (from ‘Red Wings say Grand Rapids good for Dennis Cholowski’s development,’ MLive, 2/14/2019)
Is the Benefit Worth the Risk?
Is Seider capable of playing at the NHL level already? Probably, but is it worth the hit to his confidence that will happen if they bring him up and everything doesn’t go as well as hoped?
It doesn’t seem like it is worth the chance. If Seider is as good as everyone claims he can be, he would come into the NHL and play at a level that would beg the question of why he wasn’t called up earlier. The Red Wings staff that have been watching him throughout the season don’t think that is the case.
That leaves the other option of he isn’t as good as we think he could be. Yet.
That could lead to a drop in confidence, which is not something the Red Wings can afford from a defenseman that seems to be considered the future leader of their blue line. The worst-case scenario is that he comes up to the Red Wings for two or three games, and they send him back down because he can’t match up physically or mentally at that level.
Regardless of what amount of time he could play, there is no way Detroit will play him more than nine games and activate the first year of his rookie contract. There is no upside to doing that for them at this point in the season.
What Will Yzerman Do?
Yzerman is as knowledgeable about player development as any GM in the league. The likelihood of him bringing Seider up to the Wings is very slim. The Griffins are ramping up their efforts to move into the playoffs, which would be a better experience than going to the Wings to play some NHL games that mean absolutely nothing.
The current Wings roster is playing right now to save face. That’s not the type of atmosphere you want to bring a player into who is lauded as the future defensive superstar of the team. It would be best to let him get the AHL playoff experience, and hopefully, experience some success at that level, then bring him into the Wings locker room next year, with fresh faces and new hope for the season.
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I am a University of Phoenix graduate, with 15 years of hockey coaching experience. I live in Michigan’s Upper Penninsula and play hockey at least twice a week.