Detroit — There has been much written and talked about the Red Wings’ many draft picks of recent years.
With the NHL team rebuilding, hope and expectations have been placed on the young players who will be the future.
Wings fans are finally going to see most of them on the ice — and even in a Wings sweater.
A total of 15 former draft picks help comprise the Wings’ 23-man roster of the NHL Prospects Tournament, beginning Thursday at Traverse City’s Centre Ice Arena.
The Wings’ prospect team opens its three-game schedule Thursday at 7 p.m. against Dallas.
The tournament, which didn’t take place last year due to the pandemic, returns in a slightly different format.
The usual eight-team tournament has been whittled down to five, with the Wings, Dallas, Columbus, St. Louis and Toronto icing teams.
Because of the unbalanced schedule, there will be no Matthew Wuest Memorial Cup awarded this season to the winning team. The trophy is expected to be awarded again during the 2022 tournament.
The Wings’ prospects also play Saturday against St. Louis at 7 p.m., and Sunday at 6 p.m. against Columbus. All three Wings’ games will be livestreamed on the team’s site.
The prospects tournament — one of several being held around the league this week, leading into NHL training camp — is a great opportunity to see an organization’s top players match up against other organizations.
The Traverse City tournament was one of the first to be organized, and during its history, 697 players have moved on to play in at least one NHL game, including 18 who played for the Red Wings in 2020-21: Tyler Bertuzzi, Alex Biega (while in Buffalo’s organization), Dennis Cholowski, Robby Fabbri (St. Louis), Valtteri Filppula, Darren Helm, Taro Hirose, Filip Hronek, Dylan Larkin, Gustav Lindstrom, Anthony Mantha, Patrik Nemeth (Dallas), Michael Rasmussen, Givani Smith, Marc Staal (New York Rangers), Evgeny Svechnikov, Joe Veleno and Filip Zadina.
Once the tournament is over, the Wings will begin training camp Sept. 23.
There are four prospects Wings’ fans likely will want to focus on during the three tournament games:
► Joe Veleno, forward (2018 first-round draft pick): Veleno impressed with the Wings in a brief look toward the end of season. But, with the additions the Wings have made, it’s going to be awfully difficult for Veleno to land a spot in Detroit unless he dominates in this tournament and training camp, and injuries hit the Wings’ roster.
► Jonatan Berggren, forward (2018, second round): Berggren had 45 points (12 goals) in 49 games for Skelleftea in the Swedish Elite League last season, and further ignited expectations he could become a forceful, top-six NHL winger. At 5-foot-11, 183 pounds, Berggren has dynamic, playmaking skills, although there has been concern about staying healthy. Before last season, his two previous years were shortened due to injuries.
► Sebastian Cossa, goaltender, (2021, first round): The 6-foot-6 goalie already has been christened the Wings’ goalie of the future, never mind he hasn’t played a game of pro hockey. Cossa was 17-1-1 with a 1.57 goals-against average and .941 save percentage in Edmonton (WHL), where he’ll play again this season. It’ll be interesting to watch elite players similar to Cossa’s age facing him in this setting.
► Lucas Raymond, forward (2020, first round): Many scouting services feel Raymond was one of the top five players in the world last season not playing in the NHL (along with Moritz Seider, another Wings prospect). Raymond had 18 points (12 assists) in 34 games for Frolunda in the SEL before wrist surgery ended his season. How Raymond plays in this tournament after that surgery will be intriguing to watch. There’s a chance Raymond could make the Wings’ roster — albeit a slim chance — if he dominates.
Here is the Wings’ tournament roster:
► Forwards: Berggren, Cameron Butler, Davis Codd, Patrick Curry, Cross Hanas, Chase Pearson, Raymond, Luke Toporowski, Kirill Tyutyayev, Veleno, Hayden Verbeek, Cooper Walker, Pasquale Zito
► Defensemen: Adam Brubacher, Alex Cotton, Jared McIsaac, Wyatt Newpower, Oscar Plandowski, Donovan Sebrango, Mason Ward
► Goaltenders: Jan Bednar, Victor Brattstrom, Cossa
2021 NHL Prospects Tournament
► When: Thursday through Monday
► Where: Centre Ice Arena, Traverse City
► Red Wings: Prospects have three games: Dallas on Thursday (7 p.m.), St. Louis Saturday (7 p.m.) and Columbus Sunday (6 p.m.). All three games livestreamed on detroitredwings.com.