Red Wings Found a Hidden Gem In Lombardi

The Hockey Writers

In recent weeks, Detroit Red Wings prospects Simon Edvinsson, William Wallinder, Carter Mazur, and Marco Kasper have gotten all the attention. Detroit called up Edvinsson, and Mazur and Wallinder signed entry-level contracts.

But there’s another player in the Red Wings’ prospect pipeline who deserves more recognition. That’s Amadeus Lombardi – the steal of the 2022 NHL Draft.

The 113th-overall selection in last summer’s draft has torn up the OHL this year, producing 102 points in 67 OHL games. He fell to the fourth round after the OHL canceled the 2020-21 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic – teams just didn’t have a robust scouting report on the 5-foot-10 center. Kris Draper and the Red Wings did, though. Now, he’s one of their top prospects.

Lombardi’s Value On the Ice

Draper summed up Lombardi’s style pretty concisely, “he’s a skater, he’s a worker, and he’s very competitive.” (from ‘Red Wings prospect Amadeus Lombardi was shaped by Russian-Five style’ – The Athletic – 1/9/23)

Amadeus Lombardi of the Detroit Red Wings
Amadeus Lombardi skating with the Flint Firebirds. (Natalie Shaver/OHL Images)

While skating is his top attribute, Lombardi is a highly talented forward overall – his 102 points this season is ample evidence of that. That said, Lombardi’s speed enables the other facets of his game.

Related: Red Wings Top 25 Prospects: 2022-23 Midseason Rankings

Sound familiar? A fourth-round steal from Detroit’s past played a similar game. As THW colleague Devin Little previously pointed out, Lombardi and Andreas Athanasiou have a comparable skill set:

“Both [Lombardi and Athanasiou] are known for their skating abilities, both players were fourth-round picks of the Red Wings, and both players have displayed the ability to just make things happen in the offensive zone. I believe Lombardi is already quite good at utilizing his teammates, and I think that ability should translate when he eventually makes his way west to join the Griffins. I think he’s still a couple years away from any NHL consideration, but I think he’s done enough to legitimately put his name on the map.”

–Devin Little

Not only is Lombardi a great skater, he also processes the game at an advanced level. He’s a driver that is able to analyze the defense in short order and make smart plays quickly, whether that’s passing to an open teammate or holding onto the puck a bit longer.

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That processing applies to Lombardi’s defense as well. He’s quick to target attacking players and swarm them before they can make the play they want. Lombardi’s overall defensive prowess has empowered the Flint Firebirds coaching staff to trust him in key situations, whether they’re protecting a lead or trying to tie things up.

Lombardi definitely fits the mold of a two-way, competitive, cerebral player that Draper and Steve Yzerman have prioritized as part of Detroit’s rebuild. His offensive firepower is a nice bonus, too.

What’s Next for the Red Wings & Lombardi

Technically, Lombardi can play another year in the OHL. But what’s left to prove at the junior level? Lombardi’s 102 points rank third in the OHL and his 1.52 points per game rank eighth. 

Perhaps the AHL would be better for Lombardi’s development at this point. He signed an entry-level contract back in December and will be 20 by the time the 2023-24 campaign kicks off, so eligibility won’t be an issue. Surely, competing for meaningful ice time with the likes of Marco Kasper, Carter Mazur, Cross Hanas, and Alexandre Doucet (if they’re not in the NHL) plus AHL veterans would create an intriguing environment for Lombardi to develop and refine his game.

Marco Kasper Detroit Red Wings
Will Marco Kasper start the 2023-24 campaign in Detroit or Grand Rapids? (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Longer term, you have to wonder how Lombardi fits into Detroit’s lineup. He’s a center, but the Red Wings will have some combination of Kasper, Dylan Larkin, Andrew Copp, Michael Rasmussen, and Joe Veleno occupying the top-three center spots for the next five-plus years. 

Lombardi likely tops out as a 3C, though he could benefit from moving to the wing. Such a move would clear a path to the NHL sooner and would allow him to leverage his skating, processing, and skill in a much more dangerous way.

Related: Red Wings Can Learn Valuable Lessons From the Lions, Tigers & Pistons

Regardless of where Lombardi plays, the NHL is in his future. And that’s exactly why the Red Wings should continue to accumulate draft picks – hidden gems like Lombardi are out there waiting to be found.

Stats courtesy of QuantHockey.

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