The Grind Line: Red Wings Prospect Rankings

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. This week, Rachel Anderson, Devin Little, Raymond Harrison, and Tony Wolak are the muckers who make up THW’s forechecking unit and sound off on Red Wings topics.

As the Red Wings rebuild, the development of Detroit’s top prospects has come under increased scrutiny. But that’s to be expected – they represent the (hopefully competitive) future of the franchise.

It’s also fun to speculate about the future. Everyone—even the Red Wings—has a chance. And each prospect has potential to fulfill (or not). For a team lacking a scoring punch and any resemblance of team defense, these former draft picks are the answer.

In this week’s edition of The Grind Line, The Hockey Writers Red Wings coverage team ranks Detroit’s top prospects and shares one underrated prospect to keep an eye on. Be sure to comment with your rankings below!

Related: Red Wings Rebuild: Complete Offseason Blueprint

Tony Wolak

  1. Moritz Seider
  2. Filip Zadina
  3. Joe Veleno
  4. Michael Rasmussen
  5. Jared McIsaac
  6. Jonatan Berggren
  7. Albert Johansson
  8. Antti Tuomisto
  9. Evgeny Svechnikov
  10. Gustav Lindstrom

Compared to a few years ago, the Red Wings have a stocked prospect pipeline. At this point, Moritz Seider should be ranked ahead of Filip Zadina in my opinion. The German defenseman is the real deal – top-pairing, all-situations potential. Believe the hype. 

Detroit Red Wings prospect Moritz Seider.
Moritz Seider excelled as part of Grand Rapids top pair this season. (Jenae Anderson / The Hockey Writers)

Further down the rankings, Jared McIsaac, Albert Johansson, Antti Tuomisto, and Gustav Lindstrom all have second-pairing upside with varying skill sets. Those four, along with Dennis Cholowski and Filip Hronek, give the Red Wings a deep group of prospects to man the blue line.

As for the forwards, I really didn’t have any hot takes. Zadina, Joe Veleno, and Michael Rasmussen are the top tier. Jonatan Berggren and Evgeny Svechnikov could be ranked higher, but injuries have derailed their development. I don’t see Givani Smith, Robert Mastrosimone, or Taro Hirose fitting into the top 10 either, though Mastrosimone could be the top challenger. The Boston University forward has an intriguing skill set and plenty of speed to make a living at the NHL level.

Devin Little

  1. Filip Zadina
  2. Moritz Seider
  3. Joe Veleno
  4. Michael Rasmussen
  5. Jared McIsaac
  6. Evgeny Svechnikov
  7. Taro Hirose
  8. Jonatan Berggren
  9. Albert Johansson
  10. Givani Smith

Zadina proved during his 28-game stint with the Red Wings that he’s an NHL player. Personally, I think he’s going to be an absolute stud. Seider, with all that physicality, strikes me as a guy with top-line potential, but not necessarily “elite” potential. Rasmussen is closer to the NHL than Veleno, but the latter has more upside; I think Veleno could find success as a number two center in the NHL. 

Filip Zadina of the Detroit Red Wings
Filip Zadina should be a full-time Red Wing next season. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

From position five and down, I think there’s NHL potential, but I’m not sure to what extent. Hirose and Svechnikov are both third line guys to me, possibly with Rasmussen in the middle. McIsaac hasn’t played against men yet, so next season will be a telling one for him. Berggren needs a full, healthy season before the jury is out on him, but he’s looked exciting in limited action. I like Johansson’s game, but I think he’s still a while away from producing at the NHL level. Finally, there are players that excite me more than Givani Smith, but I think Smith has proven that he could hold down a fourth line spot in the NHL now – none of those other prospects I have in mind have done that yet.

Raymond Harrison

  1. Moritz Seider
  2. Filip Zadina
  3. Joe Veleno
  4. Michael Rasmussen
  5. Jonatan Berggren
  6. Jared McIssac
  7. Antti Tuomisto
  8. Robert Mastrosimone
  9. Givani Smith
  10. Albert Johansson

As much as I love Zadina, Seider’s dominance this year puts him at the top of my rankings. He was excellent at the World Juniors and looked mature beyond his years during his first season in the AHL. There is no doubt in my mind that the German rearguard will start next season with the Red Wings, and aside from Filip Hronek, he may already be the second-best defenseman on the roster.

As for Zadina, the 20-year-old Czech was a bright spot on an otherwise abysmal team. He already has the makings of a top-six winger, but it will be interesting to see whether or not he can vault himself even higher heading into the 2020-21 campaign. In regard to Veleno and Rasmussen, both pivots are surefire NHL players, but they likely slot in as middle-six players as opposed to elite pieces.

Detroit Red Wings center Joe Veleno.
How long until Joe Veleno joins the Red Wings? (Jenae Anderson / The Hockey Writers)

Berggren is one of my favorite prospects in the system, and it is a shame he has had such unfortunate injury luck. The 33rd-overall pick from the 2018 NHL Entry Draft has legitimate game-breaking skill and potentially sky-high upside, but only if injuries stop stunting his development. Likewise, perhaps no player vaulted up the rankings more than Tuomisto this season, as the 19-year-old defenseman put up 49 points in 48 games in the Finnish junior league. 

In terms of an underrated prospect to watch, goaltender Keith Petruzzelli intrigues me. The Red Wings have several young goalies in the system, but no blue-chip prospects. The 6-foot-6 Petruzzelli posted a 2.01 goals-against average and .920 save percentage across 34 starts with Quinnipiac in the NCAA this season. The 20-year-old will play one more year in college before turning pro, and another strong campaign could vault him into the top-10.

Rachel Anderson

  1. Moritz Seider
  2. Michael Rasmussen
  3. Gustav Lindstrom
  4. Joe Veleno
  5. Filip Zadina
  6. Elmer Soderblom
  7. Robert Mastrosimone
  8. Albin Grewe
  9. Antti Tuomisto
  10. Victor Brattstrom

Anticipating the success of prospects is difficult as it is, but add in a premature season-ending, and you’ve got some valuable playoff time lost for development. All that aside, Detroit has a solid pool of prospects coming up. So much so, it’s very tough to rank them as they all have promising skill sets.

Detroit Red Wings defensemen Gustav Lindstrom and Moritz Seider
Gustav Lindstrom and Moritz Seider could have a bright future together in Detroit. (Jenae Anderson / The Hockey Writers)

Most won’t be surprised to see Seider topping out my list. He’s shown a tremendous ability to adapt to the American League and showing very few signs of struggling, if any. Zadina has dropped a few in the rankings in my opinion, mainly because of his struggles with applying his skill set. He’s a highly developed skater and very intelligent, but translating that to the NHL has been a trial for him. He just isn’t ready yet. 

The two biggest highlights for Detroit in the coming seasons will be the development of Albin Grewe and Elmer Soderblom. Both have unique abilities and styles that will not only give Detroit a powerful forechecking future, but add a bit of grit. Soderblom is absolutely massive and he has been doing a phenomenal job in Sweden with puck protection and measuring up to the caliber of the elite. Grewe, on the other hand, has a completely different style. He’s an incredible net-front scorer and can dominate the mental battle. He knows how to get under his opponents’ skin and use that to his advantage. 

Let’s not forget goaltending. That’s a touchy subject and has been for a while with the Red Wings. Swedish goaltender Victor Brattstrom is older at 23-years old, and very well developed already. He’s been holding his own with the Timra IK and has shown very good consistency.

He’s got quick reflexes and, with a short stint in the U.S. to get accustomed to the speed, I believe he’d be ready for the NHL not too long after that. 

Consensus Rankings

Last but not least, here is the consensus ranking of Detroit’s prospects taking the average of our four top-10 rankings.

  1. Moritz Seider
  2. Filip Zadina
  3. Joe Veleno
  4. Michael Rasmussen
  5. Jared McIsaac
  6. Jonatan Berggren
  7. Antti Tuomisto
  8. Gustav Lindstrom
  9. (Tie) Albert Johansson, Evgeny Svechnikov & Robert Mastrosimone

How would you rank the Red Wings’ prospects? Comment below with your top 10.