Detroit Red Wings’ top prospects flourishing in Europe; here’s who we’ll see next year

Detroit Free Press

Helene St. James
| Detroit Free Press

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While the Detroit Red Wings struggle their way through the 2021 season dealing with a lineup depleted by players made absent by the pandemic, hope for next season keeps blossoming.

Of the Wings prospects playing in Europe, none may have a more immediate impact than defenseman Moritz Seider. He earned his 18th assist of the season Saturday when he helped set up Rögle’s overtime goal, padding the team’s first-place standing in the Swedish Hockey League.

Seider, who turns 20 in April, is in his third full season playing in a men’s league, and is almost certain to be in the Wings’ lineup in 2021-22.

Seider will make an attractive addition to the blue line corps. He’s 6-foot-4, 207 pounds, shoots right, and plays both special teams. He has averaged around 20 minutes per game for Rögle, and his 0.7 points-per-game average ranks second among team defensemen, trailing veteran and former NHL defenseman Eric Gelinas’ .74 average.

When it became clear the pandemic would delay the start of pro hockey leagues in North America, the Wings assigned Seider to his former team, Mannheim, in his native Germany’s top league. Seider was then re-assigned to the SHL because Sweden started its leagues earlier than Germany, but in order to make that happen the Wings had to agree to let Seider stay there for the season.

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That’s why neither he nor Joe Veleno were recalled in December, when other players who played in Europe during autumn, like Filip Zadina, Filip Hronek and Michael Rasmussen, returned to Detroit to be ready for the start of the NHL season.

Seider was Steve Yzerman’s first pick as general manger of the Wings, selected sixth in 2019. But picks from the previous regime also are thriving. Veleno (30th, 2018) had a slow start to his season with Malmö with just three points in the first nine games, but he’s averaging 17 minutes a game and is up to nine goals and five assists in 27 games. His Redhawks have not played since Jan. 9 because of positive COVID-19 tests on the team. Seider’s team likewise had to pause for about a week earlier in the season because of the pandemic.

Forward Jonatan Berggren, drafted 33rd in 2018, scored Saturday for Skellefteå, giving the 20-year-old nine goals and 23 assists in 33 games. Berggren has been showing off his creativity on a regular basis in what is his first full season in the SHL after being hampered by injuries the last two seasons.

Forward Lucas Raymond (fourth, 2020) has six goals and 10 assists in 29 games with Frölunda.

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Seider is almost certain to be in the Wings’ lineup next season, as is Berggren. Raymond (5-10, 183 pounds) may need some seasoning in the AHL first, and Veleno’s odds hinge on his defensive growth. Overall, it’s an encouraging sign for the rebuild that next season’s team projects to skew younger thanks to several promising prospects. 

Contact Helene St. James at Follow her on Twitter @helenestjames. Read more on the Detroit Red Wings and sign up for our Red Wings newsletter. Her book, The Big 50: The Detroit Red Wings is available from AmazonBarnes & Noble and Triumph Books. Personalized copies available via her e-mail. 

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