Poised, talented and makes his own bed: Why the Detroit Red Wings adore Moritz Seider

Detroit Free Press

TRAVERSE CITY — Moritz Seider is a neat, polite houseguest, which is no surprise given how he manages to have a big personality and be a consummate professional.

Seider is the Detroit Red Wings’ most exciting defense prospect since Niklas Kronwall two decades ago, but even Kronwall wasn’t where Seider is at 20 years old. Seider already has a man’s body, standing 6 feet 4 and weighing just under 200 pounds. He has played three straight seasons in men’s leagues, from his native Germany in 2018-19, the year he was drafted by Steve Yzerman, to the American Hockey League in 2019-20 to the Swedish Hockey League in 2020-21.

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“He’s got a lot of good natural attributes that you’d like in an NHL defenseman,” Kronwall told the Free Press on Saturday. “That goes along with his personality — he’s very driven, he wants to improve. There’s a lot to like about Mo.”

Since retiring in 2019 having won a Stanley Cup and having played all of his 953 NHL games with the Wings, Kronwall has worked as the tean’s director of European Player Development. Kronwall, a first-round pick in 2000, has been on the ice through the first three days of training camp with Seider, working on his shot.

“It’s rare to a have a guy who can both play with the puck and play with a natural feistiness that he has,” Kronwall. said. “He had a really, really good year in Sweden. I am very anxious to watch him in games here and see what he can do.”

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Lessons learned last year

Seider has been paired in practices at Centre Ice with newcomer Nick Leddy, a veteran defenseman acquired in the offseason.

Coach Jeff Blashill described it as “a starting point:”

“You’ve got a really good skater in Leddy; you’ve got a really big guy in Moritz. Both have the opportunity to jump up in the play. I think having that veteran presence, we felt like it could be a really good match and they could see some significant minutes together.”

Seider has figured as a significant block in the rebuild since he was Yzerman’s first draft pick as general manager of the Wings. Seider would have had a chance to make the Wings last season, but when it became clear the pandemic would delay the start of hockey in North America, Seider was loaned to Rögle in the SHL. Seider thrived, to the point he was named defenseman of the year.

“It helped me a lot, matured my game and helped me to manage the game in all situations,” Seider said of his time in Sweden. “I grew as a person, became a better hockey player, hopefully. It definitely was the right decision for me to stay in Europe.”

Kronwall, who is based in his native Sweden, met often with Seider throughout the season to monitor and encourage his progress. But Seider’s a natural: He wants the puck, he wants to be the guy who is counted on in all situations, and he doesn’t back down when challenged.

“Mo had some big hits over there, very impressive, actually,” Kronwall said. “He just has that natural instinct in him.

“I think the biggest thing will be getting used to the work down low in corners, to boxing out. But he’s a big guy, he’s strong. He’ll do just fine.”

Ready for the very best

Veteran forward Sam Gagner worked on Seider’s power play unit Saturday. Gagner, who entered the league with the pressure of being the sixth overall pick in 2007, came away impressed with Seider’s moxie.

“He seems very experienced even though he’s just a young guy,” Gagner said. “He makes a lot of great plays. I think that’s the biggest thing — he’s composed out there. He doesn’t let the moment of training camp get the best of him and he’s just out making plays and doing what he does best. I’m looking forward to seeing how looks in the games and how he continues to grow.”

Seider belongs in the Wings’ lineup; the only question is how many minutes he can handle as he steps into the best hockey league in the world.

“He is as prepared as any young player his age coming in,” Blashill said. “But there is no league like the NHL in terms of the forwards you face. There isn’t an Auston Matthews in the SHL. There isn’t a Patrick Kane in the SHL. That’s the reality of it. So he will have to learn on the fly a little bit and make adjustments as needed against that high-level player. Can he do that? He has at every level so far, so I think he can, but I will let him prove it.”

Seider said he doesn’t let the pressure affect him, and Yzerman has been vocal about having realistic expectations for Seider, especially his rookie year. Defense is a hard position to play in the NHL; mistakes stand out more than for forwards.

“That’s what matters most, is being really solid defensively,” Seider said. “Then offense will come automatically.”

‘The guys love him already’

Seider shoots right and makes good passes. He has the skills to help the Wings offensively, if not right away then in the future. But his understanding of how he has to play in his own zone is a huge part of his appeal, and why he looks like he can be an impact player his first season.

“One of the challenges in a lot of young players coming into the league is they’re very good offensively but they don’t know how to produce offense while still playing good defense, and those are the guys who end up spending a lot of time in the minors or you don’t win enough games with,” Blashill said. “Ultimately this game is about efficiency, it’s about creating as much as you can without giving up much and it is hard if you give up a lot to create more, especially as a defenseman. He understands what winning hockey is about.”

Teammates describe Seider as confident, but never cocky.

“The guys love him already,” captain Dylan Larkin said. “He’s got a big personality and a great smile. He knows what he’s capable of and he knows the player he can be.”

Larkin invited Seider to stay at his house when he arrived in early September. They attended the Detroit Lions home opener and the Michigan Wolverines’ opening football game in Ann Arbor, and bonded at home.

“He’s very neat, very organized,” Larkin said. “You walk by his room, he’s got his bed made every morning. He’s got some of the best manners I’ve seen for a hockey player. He’s impressive. He was raised well — his parens did a great job.”

Curl up with a good book

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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