After missing the last five postseasons, the Detroit Red Wings could be on the rise, in large part because general manager Steve Yzerman has done a phenomenal job of drafting since he joined the team in April 2019.
Thanks to the draft, the Red Wings have several bright young prospects, many of whom project to have a very bright NHL future. After years of struggling, the expectations are higher, meaning Yzerman may consider moving some of his prospects to help improve his team now. However, if he does, a few players should be considered untouchable assets that he must keep.
Of course, in a league where Wayne Gretzky was traded, no player or prospect is ‘untouchable’. For the right price, any player could be moved. However, it’s unlikely Yzerman will receive offers good enough to even consider trading these five ‘untouchable’ prospects.
Like last season, Moritz Seider is again the Red Wings’ top prospect to fall under the untouchable category. The 20-year-old defenceman – who was taken sixth overall at the 2019 NHL Entry Draft – is one of the top prospects in the league.
This past season, Seider headed back overseas to play for Rogle BK Angelholm of the Swedish Hockey League (SHL) after playing the 2019-20 season in North America. In 41 games, he put up a very impressive seven goals and 28 points and was named the SHLs junior-age player of the year.
Considering that he has also spent a full season in the American Hockey League (AHL), Seider has a legitimate shot at cracking the Red Wings lineup this season. There is no chance Yzerman would even consider moving him, and for good reason. He appears to be the real deal and has a chance to have an incredibly special career.
The other no-brainer on this list is Lucas Raymond, who the Red Wings selected fourth overall at the 2020 NHL Entry Draft. Raymond has spent time in the SHL since the age of 17 where he competed against grown men.
In his draft year, Raymond played in 33 games with Frolunda HC, scoring four goals and 10 points. He improved on those totals this past season with six goals and 18 points in 34 contests. At just 19 years old, the Swedish winger is undoubtedly the Red Wings’ best forward prospect and, like Seider, is one of the better prospects in the NHL.
Given that he is a year younger than Seider and doesn’t have experience playing in North America, the Red Wings will likely take things slow with Raymond, a familiar approach that dates back to when Ken Holland was in charge. Once he is ready, everyone in the league will take notice.
The youngest prospect to appear on this list is Simon Edvinsson, who the Red Wings picked sixth-overall at this year’s draft. Last season, the 18-year-old Swedish defenceman played 10 SHL games with Frolunda HC, where he picked up a single assist. He also played 14 games in the Allsvenskan for Vasteras IK, with five assists, and 14 games in the J20 Nationell, where he registered a goal and six points.
While he still needs improvement, there is plenty to like about Edvinsson. First is his size, at a hulking 6-foot-4, 198 pounds. He is also a very good skater, which can sometimes be an issue for players his size, and he doesn’t shy away from physical play. Though he projects to be more of a shutdown defenceman, he has earned some comparisons to Tampa Bay Lightning’s Victor Hedman, which is proof enough of his potential.
The first prospect to appear on this list who was not taken in the first round is Jonatan Berggren, a second-round selection (33rd overall) in 2018. Like the others, Berggren has also been fine-tuning his game in the SHL and had his best season to date in 2020-21. The recently turned 21-year-old had a fantastic campaign with Skelleftea AIK, scoring 12 goals and 45 points in 49 contests.
Those 45 points tied him for the team lead with Joakim Lindstrom, who had a 150-game NHL career before he returned to Europe in 2015-16. We don’t yet know if Berggren can adjust to the North American game, but his skill level alone makes him an untouchable prospect at this point.
Berggren is a high-end playmaker that makes things happen from along the boards. He gets criticized for being a “perimeter player”, but even that doesn’t hold a ton of water as he does put himself in a shooter’s position from the slot, though maybe not as much as some would like. His ability to make things happen is what makes him such a tantalizing prospect, and it’s because of it that you can project him playing anywhere in his team’s top three lines, as well as playing a key role as a puck-mover on the power play.— Devin Little, The Hockey Writers
One of the Red Wings’ most surprising picks in the first round of the 2021 Draft was goaltender Sebastian Cossa who was taken 15th overall. Most believed Jesper Wallstedt would be the first goalie selected, but Yzerman and his staff had a different plan.
Nevertheless, Detroit snagged a goalie with star potential. The 18-year-old has been fantastic in each of his first two Western Hockey League seasons with the Edmonton Oil Kings. In his rookie 2019-20 campaign, he put up a 2.23 goals-against average (GAA), a .921 save percentage (SV%), and a 21-6-3 record. He then followed that up with an even better sophomore season, posting a 1.57 GAA, a .941 SV%, and an unfathomable 17-1-1 record.
The one important thing to remember with Cossa is that goaltenders generally take a significantly longer time to develop than other prospects. This means that not only will he return to the Oil Kings for the 2021-22 season, but he is probably a few years away from earning a full-time roster spot in the NHL. When that time does finally arrive, it should be special.
Future is Bright
The Red Wings prospect pipeline is loaded. Not only do they have the five brilliant young players mentioned above, but they also have strong talents like Joe Veleno, Theodor Niederbach, William Wallinder, to name a few.
With Yzerman steering the ship, the team’s future is in great hands, and it shouldn’t surprise anyone to see them compete for the Stanley Cup a few short years down the road. If they are at all similar to the Tampa Bay Lightning roster that Yzerman helped build, a new dynasty could be brewing in Detroit.
Colton Pankiw is a former Jr. A hockey player who now provides his knowledge of the game through writing. He’s been a very active and reliable source for nearly two years at The Hockey Writers. He is a credentialed writer for the Calgary Flames but also does features on other teams throughout the league. Other writing contributions include: Oil On Whyte, NHLtradetalk.com, and Markerzone.com. Colton is also a co-host of both Oilers Overtime and Flames Faceoff podcasts. Any interview requests or content info can be made through him on Twitter. Take a look at his work here.