Detroit — Carter Mazur was having difficulty scoring goals last season, so Mazur reached out to the Red Wings’ development staff.
Mazur, the Wings’ 2021 third-round draft pick and Jackson native, was in his freshman season at Denver and college hockey was proving to be a challenge.
So Mazur reached out for help, which in its own way, impressed Dan Cleary, the Wings’ assistant director of player development.
“This is when you know the kid really cares and wants to be a player,” Cleary said.
The Wings sent Mazur a video on finding areas in the offensive zone to facilitate scoring goals and also getting shots off quicker. Mazur watched, learned, and thrived afterward.
Mazur finished the season with 14 goals and 38 points in 41 games, and had two assists in the NCAA Frozen Four championship game victory over Minnesota State.
“He went on just an absolute tear,” Cleary said. “He just took off.”
Mazur, 20, will be one of the Wings prospects under the spotlight beginning Tuesday at the world junior championships in Edmonton. Mazur is one of nine Wings’ draft picks in the tournament, which runs until Aug. 20, after being canceled in late December after three days because of COVID issues.
Mazur, along with Red Savage (2021 fourth-round pick) are Wings prospects on Team USA, which opens its tournament schedule Tuesday against Germany (8 p.m./NHL Network).
It wasn’t just Mazur’s scoring which was impressive for a freshman. Mazur played with an edge which probably came about from playing against older kids at the youth levels.
“I was always playing two years up, so I felt like having an edge to my game, you kind of have to,” Mazur said. “You’re going against bigger people, (so) you might as well try to get under their skin. Doing that is more fun for me.”
Here is a quick look at other Wings prospects competing at the tournament:
► Canada: Defenseman Donovan Sebrango and goaltender Sebastian Cossa. This will be an interesting situation for Sebrango, who already has two seasons of pro experience in Grand Rapids and will be an alternate captain for Canada.
Sebrango, 20, is excited to impart what he’s learned in the American League to his Canadian teammates.
“In the room you try to be a leader and just lead by example and take it day by day,” Sebrango said. “They’re still the same age as me, so you don’t want to come in like you’re better than them. I just try to show them what pro hockey is like and what it takes to get there. On the ice, you’re playing against the best players in the world in your age group, so it’s not a huge adjustment.
“I just try to bring my leadership and experience playing against men and hopefully that takes us to gold.”
Cossa, a 2021 first-round pick, was 33-9-3 with a 2.28 goals-against average and .913 save percentage for Edmonton in the WHL, pacing the team to the Memorial Cup before being eliminated.
“It was a lot of experience for me and it was really good,” Cossa said of the long season.
The pressure of representing Canada is something Cossa values.
“Being a goalie, it’s being the last end-all or be-all. I like that about the position, for sure,” he said.
► Team USA: Forward Red Savage. A 2021 fourth-round selection, Savage had six goals and 10 assists (16 points) in 35 games as a freshman at Miami (Ohio). Savage was named the RedHawks rookie of the year.
Savage is heading in this tournament on a roll, after scoring a team-leading three goals in the two Team USA exhibitions.
► Sweden: Defensemen Simon Edvinsson and William Wallinder, forward Theodor Niederbach. For Edvinsson, this tournament should be a terrific springboard heading into Wings’ training camp and exhibition season, as Edvinsson (2021 first-round pick) attempts to make the Wings’ opening-night roster.
Edvinsson always has wanted to represent Sweden in this prestigious tournament.
“When I was a little kid, I always wanted to play in the world junior championship,” Edvinsson, 19, said. “I just played two games (in December). That hunger goes a little bit more. (It will be) a good run-up to be prepared for training camp.”
Wallinder wasn’t on Sweden’s roster in December, but an impressive second half landed Wallinder on the team this time around.
Niederbach, who had nine goals in 51 games for Frolunda (Sweden), will be looked to supply offense.
► Finland: Defenseman Eemil Viro. Viro (2020 third-round pick) had seven points in 52 games for TPS, with 55 penalty minutes. The experience level Viro, 20, will be a huge factor for a talented Finnish team. Viro is only 6-foot, 165 pounds, but plays much larger than that.
► Czechia: goaltender Jan Bednar. Bednar (2020 fourth-round pick) was 28-14-4 (2.72 GAA, .912 SVS) for Acadie-Bathurst in the Quebec junior league, re-establishing himself as a prospect within the Wings’ organization.
IIHF world junior championships
► When: Aug. 9-20
► Where: Rogers Place, Edmonton, Alberta
► TV: All games on NHL Network
► Notes: The tournament traditionally begins in December, but was postponed this past season because of a COVID outbreak after three days, forcing to be pushed to this month.