Detroit Red Wings at Prospects Tournament: Who’s there, who isn’t and what’s next

Detroit Free Press

The Detroit Red Wings’ road to rehabilitation will come through an influx of young players, and the next group of such hopefuls get a chance to make their case this week.

Joe Veleno, Jonatan Berggren and Lucas Raymond highlight the list of Wings who will participate at the Prospect Tournament, which runs Sept. 16-20 in Traverse City, in advance of training camp. Usually an eight-team event, it returns this year as a five-team affair after being canceled in 2020 because of the pandemic. Top Wings prospects face the same from the Columbus Blue Jackets, Dallas Stars, St. Louis Blues and Toronto Maple Leafs.

Here is a look at which Wings have the most at stake, and what happens next:

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First-rounders

Veleno had a quick end-of-season audition with the Wings, after returning from a fine performance with Malmö in the Swedish Hockey League (20 points, 46 games). He appeared in five games, scoring once, and also had a goal and two assists in four games with the Grand Rapids Griffins. Veleno, the 30th pick in 2018, is a fluid skater who has focused on the defensive side of his game over the past couple seasons.

The Wings see him at center, but Veleno could play wing, like Dylan Larkin did in his first year. Looking ahead to the regular season, Veleno could center the third line, maybe with a veteran like Sam Gagner on one wing. Raymond, drafted No. 4 in 2020, is embarking on his North American career after spending the last two seasons with Frölunda in the SHL. The other first-round pick, goaltender Sebastian Cossa drafted at No. 15 this year, is coming off a standout performance with the Edmonton Oil Kings, posting a 17-1-1 record with a 1.57 goals-against average and .941 save percentage in 19 games.

Who else to watch for

There’s been a great deal of excitement — and patience — surrounding Berggren since he was drafted at No. 33 in 2018. He’s a gifted offensive player, capable of dazzling moves. His development was derailed by a back injury, limiting him to 40 games from 2018-19 to 2019-20, but he rebounded last season with 12 goals and 33 assists in 49 games with Skellefteå. Berggren should stand out at this tournament because he’s played in the SHL most of the last four seasons.

Picked just a few spots after Berggren, at No. 36, defenseman Jared McIsaac likewise has been waylaid by shoulder injuries (he got hurt in his first game playing in Finland last year) but he appeared in 10 games with the Griffins last season. Donovan Sebrango, a defenseman taken at No. 63 in 2020, is also on the roster; he’s a mix of old-school grit and offense.

Kirill Tyutyayev (who shares his hometown of Yekaterinburg, Russia, with former Wings great Pavel Datsyuk) is an undersized dynamic forward dating to the 190th pick in 2019. He’s earmarked to play in GR this season. Jan Bednar (No. 107, 2020) and Victor Brattstrom (No. 160, 2018) are the other goaltenders besides Cossa.

Who isn’t there

Defenseman Moritz Seider, the No. 6 pick in 2019, isn’t on the roster, but he’s played three straight seasons of professional hockey, in Germany, Grand Rapids and Sweden. He is a lock to make the Wings’ roster.

Simon Edvinsson, the No. 6 pick this year, is busy with his team in Sweden. There’s little sense in having European players who are earmarked to stay with their teams travel to Traverse City for less than a week’s worth of hockey.

What’s on deck

Teams will play either three or four games. The Wings take on the Stars at 7 p.m. Sept. 16, the Blues at 7 p.m. Sept. 18, and the Blue Jackets at 6 p.m. Sept. 19. Because of the unbalanced schedule, the Matthew Wuest Memorial Cup will not be awarded this season. All games will be streamed live on detroitredwings.com. For ticket information, visit centreice.com.

What’s next

It’s nice for prospects to come out of this tournament feeling good about themselves, but the real test begins Sept. 23, when they take the ice for training camp. Playing with and against NHL regulars helps delineate who is ready or close to ready, and who isn’t.

The prospects, NHL regulars and training camp tryouts are divided into three squads that practice/scrimmage daily through Sept. 28, except on Sept. 26, when the players are divided into two groups for the Red and White game.

Read up on the Red Wings 

What: “The Big 50: The Detroit Red Wings.”

Author: Helene St. James, who has covered the Red Wings at the Detroit Free Press since 1996. Foreword by Chris Osgood, winner of three Stanley Cups as a Wings goaltender.

Publisher: Triumph Books.

Pages: 336 pages (paperback).

Price: $16.95.

Availability: Available in leading bookstores and online from booksellers, including Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

About the book: “The Big 50” brings to life the men and moments that made the Red Wings such a dynamic and iconic franchise for nearly a century. The book features never-before-told stories about the greats such as Howe, Yzerman, Lidstrom and Lindsay, the near-greats beloved by fans and the great memories of Fight Night, the Fabulous Fifties, the Team for the Ages, the Grind Line, The Joe and much more.

Get it signed! For a personalized copy of “The Big 50,” contact St. James at hstjames@freepress.com

Contact Helene St. James at hstjames@freepress.com. 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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