Detroit — Judging from social media and a portion of the ample amount of statistics that are out there, Moritz Seider isn’t having a monumental season like a year ago, when he won the Calder Trophy as the NHL’s best rookie.
And, all right, maybe the numbers are lagging from a year ago. Maybe even the eye test, the amount of impactful plays, haven’t been there.
But just know that Seider, and the Wings’ coaching staff, don’t necessarily buy that.
“People judge hockey players a lot by points and I don’t do that,” said Seider, who arguably produced his best game of the season Tuesday, with four assists and a stone-wall defensive game in the 7-5 win over Winnipeg. “I think my game is still better than last year. So, even though the production isn’t there yet, I still think I’m playing a better overall game than last year.”
The Seider that dominated the Jets was more of the Seider the Wings saw more often last year. The pinpoint passing, dangerous offense, and a towering presence on the defensive side.
Coach Derek Lalonde wasn’t overly thrilled with his team, despite the victory, but Seider was a different story.
“Obviously the offense was there for Mo, but his compete, battle, some of those extended shifts in our zone, he was the guy that got us out,” Lalonde said.
Seider’s four assists gave him 17 points for the season (in 39 games), which trails the 50-point pace of a year ago.
But Lalonde is quick to make sure everyone understands the demands the Wings place on the 21-year-old defenseman, facing the other team’s star offensive players and being on the ice for every big situation.
“He’s been pretty consistent, and a darn good player,” Lalonde said. “We’ve asked a ton from him. He is the one player that’s consistently got the other team’s top matchup. Within our division, our conference, it’s a lot to ask for in a top matchup, and he’s been pretty darn consistent.
“Seeing him from afar (as a coach on Tampa Bay’s staff) he obviously had a presence but chaotic at times. He just has a presence about himself and he loves the challenge of those matchups. He’s at his best when he’s physically engaged, and at 21 years old we ask a ton of him.
“A lot has been made of his point production being down from last year, but when you look back at his development and where we need him to be and want him to be, he’s definitely taken strides in the right direction.”
Seider’s work ethic and desire to reach his full talent often were relayed last season, as Seider set his path in the NHL.
It hasn’t stopped this season, as Lalonde was quick to share after Wednesday’s practice.
The Wings looked like a tired team Wednesday and Lalonde shortened practice, with select players slotted for post-practice skating sessions. Seider was one of the players scheduled for the extra work. But, on his own, Seider sought the skating coach for another 15-minute pre-practice workout.
“It’s a credit to who he is,” Lalonde said. “He actually took it on his own to get the skating coach early and it’s a credit to him.”
Being on the Tampa Bay staff, Lalonde saw up close and personal the development arc of defenseman Victor Hedman, one of the premier players in the NHL. The comparisons between Hedman and Seider are normal considering the size and skill, the presence on the ice.
Lalonde understands the comparison, but wants everyone to know there is plenty of work that goes into becoming a player of Hedman’s caliber. While Seider might one day reach that level, there likely will still be growing pains along the way.
“People see Victor as an elite, on-his-way-to-the-Hall-of-Fame defenseman right now, but he had his struggles,” Lalonde said. “I got to Tampa and he was more of a finished product, but the way Jon Cooper (Tampa coach) and some of them talked, it’s how raw he was as a young defenseman.
“There’s some comparisons there, of course, but a little bit different. But if it comes to that (Seider reaching Hedman’s level), that’ll be great for him and the (Wings) organization.”
Seider has appeared to thrive in recent weeks since being paired with Jake Walman. The skating, offensive-minded daring, and tenacity of Walman complements Seider’s skills.
“It’s been great,” Seider said of playing with Walman. “He’s a real strong skater, very talented. He can out-skate everyone in the league. That gives him confidence and he’s been playing with that a lot lately. You see he’s hard to defend in the offensive zone and we’ve been doing a real good job of shutting the top line down.”
Walman takes credit for introducing Seider to Texas Roadhouse, a Walman personal favorite, but other than that, Walman is enjoying the opportunity to be on the ice with Seider.
“He’s a world-class player,” Walman said. “He doesn’t get enough credit for his defensive zone (work). It’s real easy playing with him. He ca break the puck out, he’s a one-man wrecking crew out there.
“He has a crazy amount of confidence. I just try to give him the puck in the offensive zone and we work well that way. I try to be tenacious in the defensive zone but I just loving watching him on the ice.
“He’s a beast.”
Lalonde will go back to goaltender Ville Husso on Thursday against Toronto.
… Now that the Lions’ season is over, Lalonde will actively try to get Lions coach Dan Campbell over to Little Caesars Arena. Lalonde is a fan of the intense, fiery Campbell.
“In my notes that I write I’ll start planning the next day and it’ll be like video, defensive zone coverage, skatingcoach, what we have to do in practice, and call Dan Campbell,” Lalonde said. “I can imagine how overwhelming their exits (interviews) are but I will have our people reach out to their people and see if he’d have the time. I’d like to maybe surprise the guys with it if it does happen, but we’ll see.
“I hope it can happen.”
Maple Leafs at Red Wings
▶ Faceoff: 7 p.m. Thursday, Little Caesars Arena, Detroit
▶ TV/radio: ESPN/97.1 FM
▶ Outlook: The Leafs will be playing their second game in two nights, Wednesday having hosted Nashville. … The Leafs have won the first two games against the Wings this season, and the last nine overall.