Moritz Seider is pumped: Pumped to have won the Calder Trophy, pumped to start next season.
Three years to the day Steve Yzerman made Seider a member of the Detroit Red Wings by drafting him at No. 6, that decision was validated Tuesday as Seider was named rookie of the year for the 2021-22 season.
“It’s crazy but I’m very thankful and honored to be awarded with this trophy,” Seider said. “I’m very happy to bring something back to Detroit. I know it’s been a while.”
The Wings haven’t had a Calder Trophy winner since Roger Crozier in 1965. Seider’s ultimate goal is the same as his general manager’s: Bring the Stanley Cup back to Detroit.
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Seider, 21, is an integral part of the rebuild, a blue chip defenseman with size, smarts and leadership. The Wings haven’t been much fun to watch in recent years as they’ve missed the playoffs, but Seider and fellow rookie Lucas Raymond have injected optimism into the rebuild.
On hand to celebrate with Seider at the NHL awards show in Tampa, Florida, were Yzerman, team owner Chris Ilitch, executive vice president Jimmy Devellano (who in 1983 drafted Yzerman) and Wings captain Dylan Larkin. Seider joked as he accepted his trophy that his parents couldn’t be there because they thought it more important to go on vacation; to have his hockey family there meant the world.
“It was a really cool surprise, and also the whole organization flew down here,” Seider said. “It’s really cool to see that that not only your captain and your teammates has your back, but also the whole organization. Larks sat next to me. It was really cool to have him.
“It was really cool extra for a very special night.”
The voting was done by 195 members of the Professional Hockey Writers Association at the conclusion of the regular season. It wasn’t even close: Seider received 170 first-place votes and collected 1,853 points total; runner-up Anaheim’s Trevor Zegras had 15 first-place votes and 1,191 points and Toronto’s Michael Bunting had seven first-place votes and 877 points. Wings teammate Lucas Raymond was fourth with 499 points.
Bunting paced all rookies with 63 points and Zegras scored highlight-reel goals, but they’re forwards. The voting recognized how hard it is for a defenseman to dominate: Seider led rookie defensemen in assists (43) and points (50) and was second with seven goals. His 21 power-play points, four game-winning goals and 187 shots on goal led first-year players at the position; he led all rookies in average ice time (23:02) and was fourth in scoring.
“Moritz had a tremendous season for the Detroit Red Wings and is very deserving of the Calder Memorial Trophy,” Yzerman said in a statement. “He played his way into the role of a top-pair defenseman in the National Hockey League as a 20-year-old which is extremely difficult to do. He had a profound effect on our team during his rookie campaign and we look forward to his continued development.”
Seider cut a fashionable figure in a tux; he wore a bowtie, too, when he was drafted, and reflected on the two nights.
“Excitement and a little bit nerves,” he said. “Same with tonight, but I was a little bit more nervous, because when you dress up that nice and you don’t get awarded, you might feel a little disappointed. So I was very happy to end that night on the stage with the trophy.”
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Seider was Yzerman’s first big move as GM, and Raymond followed in 2020. Simon Edvinsson, a first-round pick from 2021, is expected to compete for a spot on next season’s team. Rebuilds take time (Yzerman waited 14 years to win the Cup as a player; eight after the team drafted Nicklas Lidstrom and Sergei Fedorov) but Seider has at least moved the needle. He has made everyone around him better, and as more help arrives, expectations will grow.
The Calder Trophy should be rightfully celebrated: The competition for rookie of the year always is intense (Hall of Famers Yzerman, Fedorov and Lidstrom were all runner-ups). But this is only the beginning for Seider.
“There will definitely be a moment when you’re sitting at home, be by yourself or with your friends and you will be very happy with what you achieved in the last couple years,” he said. “But it is more about the team. We want to build and push each other forward.
“I’m pumped. I think everyone in our locker room is pumped. We’re ready to go. Everyone is preparing themselves to be better next season, to prove more people wrong and to fight for a playoff spot. I think it’s time for us to give something back, not only for ourselves but also for this city, the fans. We want playoffs at LCA.”
Contact Helene St. James at email@example.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 Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Triumph Books. Personalized copies available via her e-mail.